If you’re considering an MFA in writing, you either don’t love money or don’t need to worry about it. Those of the latter stripe can cope with Columbia’s $50K price tag. The bargain seekers who can’t leave NYC should gravitate to Hunter College: In addition to a financial-aid package the school describes as “better than free,” at least one student a year gets a free ride, and most get help—often in the form of an apprenticeship with an author or publisher and/or teaching. Playwriting is handled separately by Hunter’s theater department, leaving the writing program free to inaugurate an MFA in memoir writing, one of only a handful in existence. Hunter also sports an accomplished yet diva-free faculty—the chair is Aussie novelist Peter Carey. Translation: The stars won’t be on academic leave or a book tour; you may get to work with them. Bigger names show for their intimate, free reading series: Annie Proulx visited October 4, Robert Pinsky shows up October 25. Grads include Absurdistan author Gary Shteyngart, who got into Columbia, too—as an associate professor.