Frequently asked questions from parents or guardians of students.
  • How can I make payments or see the bill on my student's account?

    In order to view a bill or make a payment on your student's account, you need to be added as an Authorized Part to their account.

    You may be added as a parent or an authorized party to the student’s account through their MyColumbia portal. In the Columbia Central section, select CCCPay, and then Authorized Party. As the parent or other authorized user, you will have access to your student’s monthly electronic bills, will receive email alerts, and can make payments or set up a payment plan.

  • What are authorized parties?
    Authorized Parties are parents, spouses, or another third party who can view the monthly e-bills and submit payments on behalf of the student. Only students have the ability to set up Authorized Parties in the CCCPay system.
  • How much will college cost for my student?
    The cost of a Columbia education differs from individual to individual depending on many personal choices. Please visit the Cost of Attendance page to determine an estimate for your student.
  • How do I set up a payment plan?
    Students must sign up for a payment plan through their MyColumbia account with a bank account or credit card. Payments will be automatically deducted on the 5th of each month. To determine the amount of your payment plan, subtract your secured financial aid and/or expected third-party payments for the term from your charges for the term. If you require assistance in setting up a payment plan, you should call Columbia Central for assistance at 312-369-7140.

    Columbia College Chicago requires that all students who have charges that are not covered by financial aid or a third-party benefit must either pay their out-of-pocket cost in full or establish a formal auto-debit payment plan prior to the start of the upcoming semester. Failure to pay in full or to establish a formal payment plan may result in a financial hold on your account and/or a $150 fee for non-compliance. Columbia College Chicago reserves the right to cancel the class schedule of any student who fails to comply with the payment policy.
  • What payment plans are available?
    To determine the amount of your payment plan, subtract your secured financial aid and/or expected third-party payments for the term from your charges for the term. You can see payment plan options here.

    If you require assistance in setting up a payment plan, you should call Student Columbia Central for assistance at 312-369-7140.
  • How can I determine if I'm receiving a refund?
    If the additional financial aid results in a credit balance, a refund is issued directly to the student, up to the amount of the financial aid the student is receiving for the term.

    If a credit balance still exists after the student has been provided all refunds to which he or she is entitled, we will refund the credit balance from the PLUS loan as follows:
    • If the Parent PLUS Loan borrower elects for his or her student to receive the refund, the credit balance will be refunded directly to the student.
    • If the Parent PLUS Loan borrower elects to receive the refund, any credit balance resulting from the disbursement of Columbia scholarships and a Parent PLUS loan will be refunded to the parent borrower.
    Credits balances resulting from the disbursement of two or more Parent PLUS Loans from different borrowers will be refunded to both parent borrowers proportionally, based on the amount borrowed for the term.

    Refunds are issued to the student when at least one parent borrower authorizes refunds released to the student. Upon receipt of this request, all subsequent PLUS Loan refunds for the academic year will be issued to the student regardless of subsequent Parent PLUS Loan applications received.
  • Where will a refund be sent?
    Refunds generated as a result of the Parent PLUS Loan will be issued based on the refund preference indicated on the PLUS Request. Columbia Central encourages all students and/or borrowers to sign up for Direct Deposit (D2U) to expedite the refund process.

    If the parent borrower wants to change to whom the refund will be issued (parent/student) after an application has been processed, they can complete a Refund Release Form and change the refund recipient.
  • Can I change how refunds are issued?
    Yes. If the parent borrower(s) want to change to whom the refund is issued (parent/student) after an application has been processed, they must complete a Refund Release Form and change the refund recipient. Refund Release Forms are available by contacting Columbia Central and are processed within 10 business days of receipt. The Refund Release Form must be reviewed and approved by Columbia Central prior to the issuance of a subsequent refund for which the parent borrower is requesting the change.

    After Parent PLUS loans are disbursed and refunded (if applicable), any credit balances created from subsequent disbursements of the aid in the student’s name, including but not limited to grants, scholarships, third-party benefits, private loans and Federal Direct Loans, are refunded to the student up to the amount of financial aid the student is receiving for the term.
  • What are other financial aid options?

    The main types of financial aid are scholarships, student loans, grants, and work study.

    To be considered for federal financial aid, you need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA. We will use information from your FAFSA to compile your total financial aid package, which includes all types of aid. You'll be notified of your package on your Financial Aid Award Letter.

    Read more about types of financial aid here. 

  • What are Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans?

    An unsubsidized loan for the parents of dependent students and for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. 

    Applicants may borrow up to the student's cost of attendance minus other financial aid awarded.  Borrowers must submit an application and a credit check will be performed on the borrower to establish credit worthiness. Loan funds are sent to the school and applied directly to the student's account.

    Parent borrowers begin repayment within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. Deferment options are available.  Inactive awards (no application submitted) will be removed from the financial aid award after 60 days.

    For more information on parent borrowers, please visit

  • Who is eligible for a Parent PLUS loan?

    A dependent student’s biological or adoptive parent, or the student’s stepparent, at the time the FAFSA is completed.

    For financial aid purposes, a student is considered dependent if he or she is under 24, unmarried, and has no legal dependents at the time the FAFSA is submitted (exceptions are made for veterans, orphans, and other special circumstances). Dependent students must provide parent income information on their FAFSA. 

    Parent PLUS loan borrowers must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens, must not be in default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and cannot have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be completed). 

  • What is needed to complete an application for a Parent PLUS loan?
    The student must have a completed a FAFSA prior to the parent submitting a PLUS Loan Request.

    Parent borrowers will also need the following information in order to complete an application:
    • Their FSA ID (not the student’s)
    • The student’s name (as listed on the FAFSA)
    • The student’s Social Security Number
    Before submitting a Parent PLUS Application, the student and parent should calculate their estimated costs and resources to determine how much to borrow. It is also important to consider any origination fees associated with the loan when determining the borrowing amount.
  • What happens after approval of a Parent PLUS loan?
    Parent borrowers who are approved are required to complete the Online Master Promissory Note (MPN) available at using their FSA ID. Parents borrowing a Direct PLUS Loan for more than one student will be required to complete a separate MPN for each student. 
  • What happens if my Parent PLUS loan application is denied?

    If a parent borrower is denied due to adverse credit history and does not wish to obtain an endorser or appeal the credit decision, the student will be evaluated for their eligibility to receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.  

    Parent borrowers who are denied and indicate they will seek an endorser or appeal a credit decision will be given 14 days to complete the process.

    For more information on next steps after a parent borrower is denied, please visit 

  • How do I receive Parent PLUS loan funds?
    PLUS Loan funds are credited directly to the student’s account. The parent borrower will be notified via the email address the parent borrower provided on the Federal PLUS Loan Application within 3 days of the disbursement to the student’s account. In order to have your Federal PLUS Loan funds disbursed by the student’s first day of classes, the MPN must be completed by June 1 for the fall semester, and November 1 for the spring semester.
  • How do I cancel a PLUS loan?
    All loan cancellation requests can be completed using the Parent Loan Adjustment Request. Parent borrowers can request a cancellation or reduction to a PLUS loan at any time prior to disbursement. Once a disbursement has been made, parent borrowers have 30 days from the date of their disbursement notification to cancel the loan disbursement by completing a Loan Adjustment Form. 
    If a request is received after 30 days to cancel the loan, Columbia Central will notify the student that we are unable to process the request. After the 30 day deadline, parent borrowers can ‘cancel’ all or a portion of their loan by repaying the amount in full to their Direct Loan Servicer. 
  • Can I reduce my PLUS loan amount?
    Parent borrowers can request a reduction to a PLUS loan at any time prior to disbursement. Once a disbursement has been made, parent borrowers may request a reduction to the loan at any time prior to the end of the student’s enrollment period.

    Columbia Central recommends parent borrowers request a reduction to their PLUS Loan by submitting the Parent Loan Adjustment Request. Borrowers should indicate on the form the gross amount of funds they wish to borrow each semester. 
  • Can I increase my PLUS loan amount?
    Parent borrowers can complete a new PLUS Request at to request the additional amount of funds s/he would like to borrow.

    NOTE: Borrowers should only modify PLUS loan applications that are less than 90 days old and modifications should be limited to loan funds (i.e. do not modify loan periods, refund options, etc)
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