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Inadvertent Overborrowing and Reaffirmation

What is Inadvertent Overborrowing?
When a student exceeds their aggregate or annual borrowing limits, the student is no longer eligible for any form of financial aid until they reestablish their eligibility.

Students can reestablish their eligibility in one of two ways:
  1. Contact their Federal Loan Servicer to repay the excess loan amount in full.
  2. Make satisfactory repayment arrangements with their Federal Loan Servicer (also called Reaffirmation)
How was I able to borrow in excess of my limits?
There are several reasons why your National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) history indicates you inadvertently overborrowed (exceed) based on your aggregate or annual loan limits.

Possible reasons could include, but are not limited to:

  • Capitalized interest incorrectly included in your aggregate outstanding loan balance
  • Missing or incorrect information in NSLDS
  • Unintentional student error or omission from a reporting entity
  • Data reported late to NSLDS or to Federal Loan Servicer

We encourage you to carefully review your NSLDS loan history against your student loan records to ensure capitalized interest is not being included in your aggregate outstanding loan balance. If you have questions about what is included in your aggregate outstanding principal balance, you should contact your Federal Loan Servicer.

Why do I need to reestablish my eligibility and does it affect my other aid?
You must reestablish your eligibility if you want to utilize any of your remaining financial aid eligibility during the award year. Without reestablishing your eligibility you cannot receive Pell, FSEOG, MAP, FWS funds, Stafford, or PLUS loans.

If you are not Pell or MAP eligible and have exhausted your Stafford loan eligibility, you may choose not to reestablish your eligibility.

I inadvertently exceeded my undergraduate limits but I’m now a graduate student. Do I still need to reestablish my eligibility?
Yes. The Department of Education considers students in your situation to have lost financial aid eligibility prior to changing status (from undergraduate to graduate). As such, you are ineligible for financial aid as a graduate student until the excess amount is repaid or satisfactory arrangements are made with your Federal Loan Servicer through reaffirming your debt.
It looks like I may have inadvertently overborrowed as a result of consolidating my loans. Do I need to do anything?
Probably not. If a consolidated loan resulted in a student inadvertently overborrowing, no further action is needed on the part of the borrower since by signing the consolidation promissory note the borrower has agreed to repay any excess loan amount.

However, if you’ve received communication from SFS about reestablishing your eligibility we encourage you to contact us for more information.

I want to repay the excess loan amount. What are my next steps?
Contact your Federal Loan Servicer and request to repay the excess loan amount. Your Federal Loan Servicer will provide you with specific instructions on how to make this payment.

Once you have repaid the amount in full, your Federal Loan Servicer will send you a confirmation that the excess loan amount has been repaid.You must submit a copy of this confirmation with your name and OASIS ID to SFS.Our office will review the documentation and determine your aid eligibility based on the date the Federal Loan Servicer determined you repaid the excess amount.

Please note that if your Federal Loan Servicer makes this determination after you are no longer enrolled and/or enrolled below half-time, your aid eligibility may be limited.

If you are unsure of who your Federal Loan Servicer is, you will need to visit NSLDS to view your Federal Loan Servicer and their contact information If you still have problems identifying your Federal Loan Servicer, please contact SFS.

I want to make satisfactory repayment arrangements. What are my next steps?
A satisfactory repayment arrangement can be made if you, the student, agree (in writing) to repay the excess amount according to the terms and conditions of the promissory note that supported the loan. This process is called Reaffirmation.If you received notification from SFS that included the ‘Reaffirmation Request’ form, you may complete this form and return it to SFS. Once we receive this form, SFS will initiate the reaffirmation process with your Federal Loan Servicer on your behalf. (Please note that SFS will only initiate the reaffirmation process for currently enrolled Columbia students.)If you did not receive notification from SFS, you want to initiate the process yourself, or you are no longer enrolled at Columbia, you may contact your Federal Loan Servicer and indicate you want to reaffirm the debt to reestablish your eligibility.If you are unsure of who your Federal Loan Servicer is, you will need to visit NSLDS to view your Federal Loan Servicer and their contact information. If you still have problems identifying your Federal Loan Servicer, please contact SFS.
What happens once the reaffirmation process is initiated with my Federal Loan Servicer?
Regardless of how the reaffirmation process is initiated with your Federal Loan Servicer it will involve the following next steps:
  1. Your Federal Loan Servicer will send you a Reaffirmation Agreement.
  2. You, the student, must read, sign and return the agreement to your Federal Loan Servicer. (You should keep a copy of this agreement for your records.)
  3. Your Federal Loan Servicer will send you confirmation that the reaffirmation agreement has been accepted. You must submit a copy of this confirmation with your name and OASIS ID to SFS.
  4. SFS will review the documentation and determine your aid eligibility based on the date the Federal Loan Servicer determined your agreement was accepted.

Please note that if your Federal Loan Servicer makes this determination after you are no longer enrolled and/or enrolled below half-time, your aid eligibility may be limited.

How long does the reaffirmation process take?
The reaffirmation process will vary based on your Federal Loan Servicer. In our experience, SFS recommends you allow at least 4-6 weeks for this process once the request has been initiated.
What do I do if my Federal Loan Servicer won’t respond to my requests to reestablish my eligibility?
If you are having difficulties with reestablishing your eligibility and feel your Federal Loan Servicer is not responding to your requests, we encourage you to contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Please note SFS is unable to contact your Federal Loan Servicer or the Ombudsman on your behalf to expedite the process.
What if I dispute the data my Federal Loan Servicer is reporting?
If you are disputing the data your Federal Loan Servicer is reporting, we encourage you to contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Please note SFS is unable to contact your Federal Loan Servicer or the Ombudsman on your behalf if you are disputing reported information.
What if I need reaffirm my eligibility in order to receive financial aid at a different school?
You may have attended Columbia in the past and need to reestablish your eligibility in order to receive financial aid at another school. If this is the case, you must contact your Federal Loan Servicer and request to repay the excess amount in full or request to make satisfactory repayment arrangements to reaffirm the debt.

Once you receive confirmation from your Federal Loan Servicer that the excess amount has been repaid or you have reaffirmed your debt, you should submit a copy of this confirmation to the appropriate office (for example, the financial aid office) at your other institution.

Do not submit a copy of your Federal Loan Servicer’s confirmation to SFS unless you intend to reestablish your financial aid eligibility at Columbia.