STUDENT FINANCIAL SERVICES

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Admitted Student

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to Columbia. We’re excited for you to start your journey.

Undergraduate students

When can I expect an award letter?

To receive an Award Letter, you must be admitted to Columbia. Award Letters for incoming students begin in November for the following Spring and Fall term.

You also will receive your award letter digitally.

What are the deadlines for applying for financial aid?
You can complete the FAFSA from October 1 to June 30 for the upcoming school year’s financial aid. However, there are a few federal student aid programs and state student aid programs (including the Illinois MAP Grant program) that have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can once the FAFSA form is available for the year you’ll be attending school.
Am I eligible for scholarships?
Yes. As an incoming student, you are automatically considered for Columbia scholarships. For more information on scholarships available, please visit the Scholarships page.
How do I secure my loans?

After you receive your Award Letter and make your decision on what funding options you will use, you must take the necessary steps to secure your aid. Your Award Letter will list the amounts you are eligible to utilize.

First-time Direct Stafford Loan undergraduate borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling & Master Promissory Note. Both can be found by visiting studentloans.gov. You will need an FSA ID to sign in.

Note: If you are not planning to use the Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan listed on your Award Letter, you should complete a Student Loan Adjustment Request. Please remember, any charges not paid through financial aid will need to be paid out of pocket.

When should I take steps to secure my loans?
The borrower must complete entrance counseling and Master Promissory Note before the last day of the student’s enrollment period. 
Can I change the loan amount I requested?

Students can request a reduction to their Direct Loan by submitting the Student Aid Adjustment Request, found in the Resource Center.

Students can request a reduction to a Federal Direct Loan at any time prior to disbursement. Students should indicate on the form the gross amount of funds they wish to borrow each semester. 

How does Columbia determine my awards?
Your awards are based on several factors including:
  • federal regulations (for federal student loans and Federal Work Study)
  • your academic merit (when applying for scholarships)
  • your school-determined Cost of Attendance.

Some institutional scholarships also require you to demonstrate financial need by submitting the FAFSA form.

How will I know if I'm receiving a refund?

You will receive an email from SFS if you will receive a refund.

Please visit our Student Account Refund page for more information.

Am I eligible for federal work study?

Federal Work Study is awarded by invitation on a first come, first served basis.

In order to be considered for federal work study, students must have:

  • a valid Student Aid Report (SAR) for the current academic year at half time (6 hours) status for each eligible semester
  • a minimum of a cumulative 2.0 GPA
  • an EFC of $25,000 or below
  • completed verification, if selected, BEFORE they begin working in their hired position
How can I request more funding when my status is "at budget/cost of attendance"?
When students are told they are “at their budget” it means that they have been awarded up to their Cost of Attendance and have no further eligibility for financial aid. If you are taking more than 9 credit hours per term or have an extenuating circumstance, please set up an appointment with SFS to discuss your circumstance.
What are academic standards for me?
Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for undergraduate students are:
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 (a ‘C’ average) each semester they are enrolled. 
  • Maintain minimum completion rate toward their degree progress, by successfully completing at least two-thirds (67%) of their attempted coursework each semester they are enrolled. 
  • Complete their degree program within the maximum time frame of 186 hours. Students whose attempted credits, including transfer credits, exceed 186 credit hours are immediately dismissed from the college. There are no probationary terms for the maximum time frame requirement.

Transfer students

You’ve completed high school, home school, or a GED and have enrolled in at least 1 credit of college-level coursework after the summer immediately following high school graduation. This excludes dual enrollments, courses taken at Columbia, and/or any postsecondary enrollment during the summer immediately following secondary school graduation or GED completion.

You are either transferring credits to Columbia for your first bachelor's degree, or you are looking to start coursework for your second bachelor's degree.

When can I expect an award letter?
Estimated award letters will be sent on a rolling basis beginning in December. Final award letters will begin in March.
What are the deadlines for applying for financial aid?
You can complete the FAFSA from October 1 to June 30 for the upcoming school year’s financial aid. However, there are a few federal student aid programs and state student aid programs (including the Illinois MAP Grant program) that have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can once the FAFSA form is available for the year you’ll be attending school.
Am I eligible for scholarships?
Yes. As an incoming student, you are automatically considered for Columbia scholarships. For more information on scholarships available, please visit the Scholarships page.
How do I secure my loans?

After you receive your Award Letter and make your decision on what funding options you will use, you must take the necessary steps to secure your aid. Your Award Letter will list the amounts you are eligible to utilize.

First-time Direct Stafford Loan undergraduate borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling & Master Promissory Note. Both can be found by visiting studentloans.gov. You will need an FSA ID to sign in.

Note: If you are not planning to use the Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan listed on your Award Letter, you should complete a Student Loan Adjustment Request. Please remember, any charges not paid through financial aid will need to be paid out of pocket.

When should I take steps to secure my loans?
You must complete entrance counseling and Master Promissory Note before the last day of the student’s enrollment period. 
Can I change the loan amount I requested?

Students can request a reduction to their Direct Loan by submitting the Student Aid Adjustment Request, found in the Resource Center.

Students can request a reduction to a Federal Direct Loan at any time prior to disbursement. Students should indicate on the form the gross amount of funds they wish to borrow each semester. 

How does Columbia determine my awards?
Your awards are based on several factors including:
  • federal regulations (for federal student loans and Federal Work Study)
  • your academic merit (when applying for scholarships)
  • your school-determined Cost of Attendance.

Some institutional scholarships also require you to demonstrate financial need by submitting the FAFSA form.

How will I know if I'm receiving a refund?

You will receive an email from SFS if you will receive a refund.

Please visit our Student Account Refund page for more information.

Am I eligible for federal work study?

Federal work study is awarded on a first come, first served basis.

In order to be considered for federal work study, students must have:

  • a valid Student Aid Report (SAR) for the current academic year at half time (6 hours) status for each eligible semester
  • a minimum of a cumulative 2.0 GPA
  • an EFC of $25,000 or below
  • completed verification, if selected, BEFORE they begin working in their hired position
How can I request more funding when my status is “at budget/cost of attendance"?
When students are told they are “at their budget” it means that they have been awarded up to their Cost of Attendance and have no further eligibility for financial aid. If you are taking more than 9 credit hours per term or have an extenuating circumstance, please set up an appointment with SFS to discuss your circumstance.
What are the academic standards for me?
Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for undergraduate students are:
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 (a ‘C’ average) each semester they are enrolled. 
  • Maintain minimum completion rate toward their degree progress, by successfully completing at least two-thirds (67%) of their attempted coursework each semester they are enrolled. 
  • Complete their degree program within the maximum time frame of 186 hours. Students whose attempted credits, including transfer credits, exceed 186 credit hours are immediately dismissed from the college. There are no probationary terms for the maximum time frame requirement.
Can I participate in a payment plan if I'm getting my second bachelor's degree?

Second bachelor's degree students are welcome to use any of Columbia's payment options, including payment plans.

 

Graduate students

When can I expect an award letter?

To receive an Award Letter, you must be admitted to Columbia. Award Letters for incoming students begin in November for the following Spring and Fall term.

You also will receive your award letter digitally.

How much does my program cost?
Visit our Tuition and Fees page for detailed cost information.
What are the deadlines for applying for financial aid?
You can complete the FAFSA from October 1 to June 30 for the upcoming school year’s financial aid. However, there are a few federal student aid programs that have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can once the FAFSA form is available for the year you’ll be attending school.
Am I eligible for scholarships?

Yes. By completing your admissions applicaiton, you are automatically considered for the Graduate Assistantship program. This is a full tuition award plus an on-campus job for the duration of the program. International student are considered for this award.

For information about other scholarships, visit our Scholarships page

How do I determine if I need to borrow a loan?

Review the estimated costs for your program to determine the total needed for your tuition and fees and living expenses for the year, and then deduct any scholarships you are receiving from Columbia or another source. Consider the personal resources you have available, such as savings or earnings from your job. Review Columbia's payment plan options to determine if you can afford to pay for a portion of your tuition and fees using a payment plan.

After you have reviewed all of your costs and resources and determined if you can afford to pay a portion of your tuition and fees out of pocket, you will be able to determine if you need to borrow a federal student loan and how much you need to borrow. Student Financial Services can assist you with this process.

How do I secure my loans?


After you receive your Award Letter and make your decision on what funding options you will use, you must take the necessary steps to secure your aid. Your Award Letter will list the amounts you are eligible to utilize.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan borrowers must complete:

  • Entrance Counseling
  • Master Promissory Note. 

Direct Graduate PLUS Loan borrowers must complete:

  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan application
  • Master Promissory Note

Both can be found by visiting studentloans.gov. You will need an FSA ID to sign in.

Note: If you are not planning to use the Direct Unsubsidized Loan listed on your Award Letter, you should complete a Student Loan Adjustment Request. Please remember, any charges not paid through financial aid will need to be paid out of pocket.

When should I take steps to secure my loans?
You must complete entrance counseling and Master Promissory Note before the last day of the student’s enrollment period. 
Can I change the loan amount I requested?

Students can request a reduction to their Direct Loan by submitting the Student Aid Adjustment Request, found in the Resource Center.

Students can request a reduction to a Federal Direct Loan at any time prior to disbursement. Students should indicate on the form the gross amount of funds they wish to borrow each semester. 

Can I defer repayment on my undergraduate loans while in my graduate program?

In most cases, you can defer payment of your federal undergraduate loans while pursuing a graduate program.

If you enroll at least half-time in a degree or certificate seeking program, Columbia will automatically report your enrollment to the National Student Clearinghouse after the add/drop period for the term. Your lender will then use this information to apply an in-school deferment to your federal student loans.

We strongly suggest that you contact your loan servicer to discuss any deferment or forbearance options available. If you don’t know who your loan servicer is, you can view your federal loan records on the National Student Loan Data System. 

The terms and conditions of private loans vary widely. We suggest that you reach out to your private lender to determine if deferment options are available on your private loans while you attend graduate school.

How does Columbia determine my awards?
Your awards are based on several factors including:
  • federal regulations (for federal student loans and Federal Work Study)
  • your academic merit (when applying for scholarships)
  • your school-determined Cost of Attendance.

Some institutional scholarships also require you to demonstrate financial need by submitting the FAFSA form.

How will I know if I'm receiving a refund?

You will receive an email from SFS if you will receive a refund.

Please visit our Student Account Refund page for more information.

Am I eligible for federal work study?

Federal work study is awarded on a first come, first served basis.

In order to be considered for federal work study, students must have:

  • a valid Student Aid Report (SAR) for the current academic year at half time (6 hours) status for each eligible semester
  • a minimum of a cumulative 3.0 GPA
  • an EFC of $25,000 or below
  • completed verification, if selected, BEFORE they begin working in their hired position
How can I request more funding when my status is “at budget/cost of attendance"?
When students are told they are “at their budget” it means that they have been awarded up to their Cost of Attendance and have no further eligibility for financial aid. If you are taking more than 9 credit hours per term or have an extenuating circumstance, please set up an appointment with SFS to discuss your circumstance.
Am I considered full time if I am taking a thesis course?
Yes, a student is considered to be full-time if enrolled in a thesis course.

Your cost of attendance components will be full time in all categories except tuition. This includes: Tuition, Standard Fees, Books and Supplies, Room and Board, Miscellaneous Expenses, Transportation Expenses and Loan Fees.

The thesis COA is lower than a regular full-time COA because the tuition charge in the thesis COA includes 1-2 credits only. You may qualify for less financial aid due to a lower COA. If your program offers a course that is equivalent to a thesis course (a capstone course, for example), you may also be considered full-time. If you take another course in addition to your thesis course, the tuition component of your COA will be increased accordingly.
Am I eligible for U-Pass as a graduate student?

Yes! If you are enrolled for a minimum of 9 credit hours OR are taking a thesis class (Fall and Spring semesters), you will receive a U-Pass.

For summer, you must be enrolled for a minimum of 5 credit hours.

What are the academic standards for me?

Graduate students must meet the standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible for federal financial aid. 

In addition, graduate students must maintain academic standing as defined by the Graduate School. 

Do I still need to reestablish my eligibility if I exceeded my loan limits as an undergraduate student?

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.

You can reestablish your eligibility by contacting your Federal Loan Servicer to repay the excess loan amount in full OR make repayment arrangements (also called reaffirmation).

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