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Financial Aid: What is it and How to Apply

Financial Aid Overview

New for 2017-18! For the first time, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSAis available starting October 1. This earlier date makes completing your FAFSA easier than ever. In addition, you'll use 2015 income and tax information, imported directly from the IRS. This means you'll already have done your taxes when you complete the FAFSA, and you may be able to automatically import your tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval tool.

We recommend that you complete your FAFSA as early as possible. Go to fafsa.ed.gov for more information. 

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.

Types of Federal Student Aid (chart)

Types of Financial Aid

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How do you apply?

Application for any type of financial aid begins with the FAFSA.

The FAFSA collects information about you, the student (and parents of dependent students) regarding income, number of family members in the household and number of family members in college. Columbia College Chicago uses the results of the FAFSA to determine the amount of assistance provided to the student for their education. Follow this easy process to complete your FAFSA.



The FAFSA Process

The FAFSA Process Overview (chart)

The FAFSA Process Overview

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How do I complete the FAFSA?

Go to fafsa.ed.gov to complete your FAFSA. 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).

Starting this year, new changes make completing your FAFSA easier than ever. You can submit your 2017-18 FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016. You'll use 2015 income and tax information, imported directly from the IRS, when you complete the FAFSA online. 

Determining Dependency Status (video)

Determining Dependency Status (chart)

Determining Dependency Status

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Who is my parent when I fill out my FAFSA? (chart)

Who is my parent when I fill out my FAFSA

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Simple Steps to Transfer Tax Information Into Your FAFSA (chart)

Simple steps to transfer tax information into your FAFSA

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Additional Information

How can I confirm receipt of my FAFSA?

You should feel confident that Columbia received your FAFSA if you’ve:
1. Provided your correct Social Security Number to Columbia
2. Successfully completed the FAFSA for the award year you plan on attending
3. Added our School Code (001665)
4. Met all signature requirements

If you’ve been admitted or you are a current student, Columbia will provide you with an Award Letter outlining your financial aid options. Click on the ‘What do I do next’ link below to learn more. If you have questions about your admission status, please contact the Admissions office at 312-369-7130.

What do I do next? When can I expect an Award Letter? (video)

Award Year 2017-18

New Students:  After successful completion of your FAFSA and admission to Columbia, we will send you an Estimated Award Letter outlining your financial aid options. This will be mailed to you and will include your next steps in the process. Estimated award letters will be sent on a rolling basis beginning in December. Final award letters will begin in March.

Current Students:  New for 2017-18! Current students will need to complete the 2017-18 Verification process, if selected, in order to receive your 2017-18 Award Letter. Required documents are listed in the Missing Documents section in the Student Financial Services tab within your OASIS portal.  Award letters will be sent to your Loopmail beginning in March if you were not selected for verification or you have completed the verification process already.

Note: 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. If you misplace your email or you would like to review your awards again, please log in to your OASIS portal, click on the Student Financial Services tab and then Financial Aid Awards.

Award Year 2016-17

New Students Starting in Spring 2017:  After successful completion of your FAFSA, Columbia College Chicago will send you an official Award Letter outlining your financial aid options within the month of December. 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 at 312-369-7130.

Current Students:  SFS will email your Award Letter 7-10 business days after receiving your FAFSA to your Loopmail

What about Summer Aid?

Students who plan to attend the Summer 2017 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.  * Note: Current students, review the Create Your Summer Financial Plan page to learn how summer aid availability is impacted for full time students that utilized federal aid in Fall and Spring semesters.

Current Students

Award Year 2017-18

New for 2017-18! Current students will need to complete the 2017-18 Verification process, if selected, in order to receive your 2017-18 Award Letter. Required documents are listed in the Missing Documents section in the Student Financial Services tab within your OASIS portal. If eligible, SFS will email your Award Letter to your Loopmail beginning in March.

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. 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.

Columbia is currently confirming receipt of the 2017-18 FAFSA. Once your FAFSA has been submitted, it will take us 3-5 business days to confirm receipt.