Caution Flags

Caution Flags, also known as C-Flags, are notifications to the student and the institution processing the student financial aid application. If information entered on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) does not match what the authorizing agency has on record for the applicant, or if there is adverse information relating to the applicant's financial aid status, a C-Flag will be issued. 

If you are notified that you have a C-Flag, you will need to provide documents to verify the information entered on your FAFSA—even if you were not selected by Columbia Central for the verification process. To check if you have a C-Flag, look at your SAR; a C will be located in the upper right hand corner of the report, and detailed comments will be printed in the body of the report. You also will receive a Missing Document email from Columbia Central in your student email.

You will not receive an Award Letter until your documents are submitted and reviewed to ensure that the C-Flag is resolved. Please note that unresolved C-Flags will automatically render you ineligible to receive federal funds. 

How do I resolve my Caution Flag?

A complete list of C-Flags and the documents needed to resolve them are listed below. Please contact Columbia Central if you have any questions.
  • Citizenship Status

    When you submitted your FAFSA, your application was sent to the Social Security Administration to verify your citizenship status. The Social Security Administration could not confirm that you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.

    If you are a U.S. citizen: Before you can be considered for federal student aid, you must complete a Proof of U.S. Citizenship form in the presence of an SFS representative or a notary; present a valid, unexpired government-issued photo ID; and provide one of the following documents: U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Birth Abroad Certificate, U.S. Passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship.

    If you are an eligible non-citizen: Before you can be considered for federal student aid, you must complete a Proof of Eligible Non-citizenship Status form in the presence of an SFS representative or a notary; present a valid, unexpired government-issued photo ID; and provide one of the following documents: non-expired Permanent Residence Card, non-expired Resident Alien Card, valid non-expired Form 1-94 or 1-94A, or valid non-expired Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (MRIV).

  • Default on Federal Student Loans

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) indicated that you are in Default on at least one federal student loan, which means you have failed to repay the loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note. 

    In order to regain federal student aid eligibility, you must provide documentation from the Department of Education or a letter on institutional letterhead from the school associated with the loan that your loan is either paid in full or has been consolidated, or that you are meeting satisfactory repayment arrangements. 

    For more detailed information regarding loan default, visit the NSLDS for Students website at nslds.ed.gov or call 800-433-3243.

  • Discharged Federal Student Loans

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) indicated that you have prior loans discharged due to disability. 

    To further receive federal loan funds, you must submit:

    1. Certification from a legally licensed physician stating that your condition has improved and that: a) you have the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity, and b) you can attend school.
    2. A signed statement that you are aware that a new student loan cannot later be canceled on the basis of any present impairment, unless that condition substantially deteriorates and the definition of total and permanent disability is again met.
    3. A letter from the Department of Education indicating your loan(s) has/have been discharged. Please note: a prior loan discharge does not affect your eligibility for federal grant funds. 
  • Selective Service

    All individuals born with the biological sex of "male" ages 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens are required to register with the Selective Service in order to receive federal aid. In the processing of your FAFSA, the Selective Service Administration reported that you are not registered with them.

    If you believe that you have already registered or are exempt, please contact the Selective Service at 847-688-6888 to resolve any registration issues. You can also register online at sss.gov

    Once you have confirmed your status, you must provide official Selective Service documentation of your registration status (i.e., elective Service Registration Acknowledgement letter).

    Please note that males born before 1960 are not required to register with the Selective Service. If you are a female and have received this C-Flag, please review your SAR online at fafsa.gov and confirm you have answered Question #21 accurately. 

  • Drug Conviction

    When you submitted your FAFSA, you indicated that you have a drug conviction.

    A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify you for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds.

    If you answered this question incorrectly, visit fafsa.gov and correct your answer. If you answered this question correctly, you must complete and submit the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet for Question 23 that was provided to you when you received your Student Aid Report (SAR).

    Please contact a Columbia Central representative for additional options to fund your educational expenses.

  • Social Security Number or Date of Birth Mismatch

    Your FAFSA application contains one or more discrepancies:

    • The Social Security Administration (SSA) was unable to verify the Social Security Number used to complete your FAFSA. If the name and social security number shown on your SAR are correct, you must contact the Social Security Administration Office to resolve this problem. In the interim, you may provide a copy of your signed Social Security Card as proof you filed your FAFSA correctly.
    • According to the Social Security Administration records, the date of birth you reported on your FAFSA does not correspond with the Social Security Number you reported. If the date of birth is incorrect in your MyColumbia portal, please go to Columbia Central to correct the date of birth and bring a copy of your driver’s license/state ID. If the date of birth is incorrect on your SAR, log on to fafsa.gov and make the necessary corrections to your SAR.
  • Bankruptcy

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Database System indicated that you had a debt discharged (federal student loan or a grant overpayment) in an active bankruptcy claim.

    Upon review of the information provided in NSLDS, Columbia will determine if you’re eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. There is no documentation for you to submit.

    Please note: If your bankruptcy schedules include a defaulted Title IV loan or grant overpayment, you will be considered ineligible for additional Title IV aid until the default or overpayment status has been resolved.
  • Federal Aid Overpayment

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System indicated that you have an overpayment of federal student aid funds.

    In order to regain federal student aid eligibility, you must provide documentation from the Department of Education or a letter on institutional letterhead from the school associated with the loans that your overpayment is either paid in full or that you are making satisfactory repayment arrangements.

    For more detailed information regarding your federal overpayment, please visit the NSLDS for Students website at nslds.ed.gov or call 800-433-3243.

  • Veterans Status Match

    You indicated on your FAFSA that you are a veteran; however, the Department of Veteran's Affairs could not confirm your status as a veteran.

    Please submit a copy of your long form DD214 (Member 4 copy) for review.

  • Aggregate Loan Limit

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System indicated you have borrowed over the aggregate loan limits.

    You are not eligible for any Federal Student Financial Aid until the overborrowed amount of the loan is repaid or you have made satisfactory repayment arrangements. Payments and payment arrangements must be made with the loan servicer and not Columbia College Chicago. 

    For more detailed information and your loan servicer information, please visit the NSLDS Website for Students at nslds.ed.gov or call 800-433-3243.
  • Fraud

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System indicated that you have been convicted of, or have plead guilty to, a crime involving fraud in obtaining Title IV aid. You are not eligible to receive any federal financial aid.

    In order to regain eligibility, you must repay the fraudulently obtained funds to the US Department of Education or the loan holder. Once the payment has been received and noted on NSLDS, Columbia College Chicago will review the eligibility status and award the Federal Student Financial Aid.

    For more detailed information about this caution flag, please visit the NSLDS website for students at nslds.ed.gov or call 800-433-3243.
  • Unusual Enrollment History

    When you submitted your FAFSA, the National Student Loan Data System indicated that additional review of your enrollment history is required to determine your eligibility to receive Federal Financial Aid. You will be contacted via email if you are required to submit additional documentation to confirm your continued eligibility for federal financial aid.

    For more detailed information about this caution flag, please visit the NSLDS website for students at nslds.ed.gov or call 800-433-3243.
Academic Dates and Deadlines