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Financial Aid: What is it and How to Apply

How To complete FAFSA video

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is defined as any type of financial assistance obtained for the purpose of going to college. Financial aid is primarily given to students in two forms: scholarships or grants (assistance you do not have to pay back) or student loans (assistance you will have to pay back after graduation and usually with interest). Click here for a list of funding sources.

How do you apply?

Application for any type of financial aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or more commonly known as the FAFSA.

The FAFSA collects information about the student (and parents of dependent students) regarding income, number of family members, number of family members in college and plans for college. A level of financial need for the student and his or her family is determined by this reported data. Columbia College uses the results of the FAFSA to determine the amount of assistance provided to the student for their education.

How do I complete the FAFSA?

Student Financial Services has designed a three-step process to assist you in completing your FAFSA. The three-step process ensures your FAFSA is submitted in a timely manner, reduces paper submission, and results in a more accurate award letter for you. Please complete the entire three-step process.  Student Financial Services has designed to guarantee you the best application experience. If you encounter any difficulties while completing your FAFSA you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

When can Columbia confirm receipt of my FAFSA?

After February 15th Columbia can begin confirming receipt of your FAFSA.  If you complete your FAFSA after February 15th, please know it takes 2-3 business days to confirm receipt.  Please remember, we encourage all students to complete the FAFSA during the month of January.

What do I do next?

After successful completion of your FAFSA, Columbia College will send you an official Award Letter outlining your financial aid options within 7-10 business days. This will be mailed to you and will include your next steps in the process. (Please remember that you also need to be admitted to the college to receive an Award Letter.) Please contact your respective Admissions Office on the status of your Admission.

When will Student Financial Services Begin Processing Award Letters for the 2015-2016 academic year?

What about Summer Aid?

Students who plan to attend the Summer 2015 session should be sure to create a summer financial plan.  There are several steps you must complete in addition to the Summer Aid Application to be reviewed for summer aid eligibility. To be sure you complete each step, understand the process and access the application, visit the SFS Create Your Summer Financial Plan page.

Continuing Students

Although you may have gone through this process in the past, please continue to read all SFS communications during this time as application processes and regulations can change each academic year. SFS will email your Award letter 7-10 business days after receiving your FAFSA to your LOOP email account. The email will outline your specific awards and direct you to this site. If you misplace your email or you would like to review your awards again, please log into your OASIS account, click on the Student Financial Services tab and then Financial Aid Awards.

After February 15th Columbia can begin confirming receipt of your FAFSA.  If you complete your FAFSA after February 15th, please know it takes 2-3 business days to confirm receipt.  Please remember, we encourage all students to complete the FAFSA during the month of January.