Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

FAQs: Currently Enrolled Students

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How do I renew my financial aid?

For information on the financial aid renewal application please visit the Apply for Aid section of our website.

When will I receive my financial aid award letter?

If you submitted your financial aid application materials by the May deadline, you should receive the financial aid award by early July. After this, financial aid awards will be sent out on a rolling basis throughout the summer.

May I request a re-evaluation of my financial aid package? (Current Students)

You can submit a request to have your financial aid award reconsidered for one of the following reasons:

  • Your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you originally submitted the financial aid application.
  • Your family’s financial circumstances are complex in nature, and you would like us to re-review the file with new information or clarification not previously submitted.

As appeals vary, and can be sensitive in nature, we recommend that you contact our office and speak with a financial aid officer prior to submitting a request. All requests for reconsideration should be submitted via e-mail to ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu.

How do outside scholarships affect my Columbia financial aid award?

Outside scholarships can be applied to replace, dollar for dollar, the Student Contribution (SC) and Work-Expectation components of the financial aid award. If the total amount of outside scholarship funds exceeds the SC and Work-Expectation, it will then begin reducing the Columbia grant. Outside scholarships will NOT reduce the Parent Contribution.

Additional information can be found on our outside scholarship page.

How are bills sent?

Billing at Columbia is only sent online. Students will receive an e-mail notification when a new E-Bill is generated. For parents or other third parties to receive billing notifications, the student needs to first set them up as Authorized Payers to the account. To do this, the student should log into Student Services Online (SSOL), click on Account, select the View E-Bill and Pay by E-Check option, and then go to the Authorize Payers, and set up an account for each person he/she wishes to receive the bill.

Please note that there are two different ways in which to view the account. The first is the official E-Bill. The E-Bill is a monthly snapshot of the account balance at a given time, and will not update until a new E-Bill is generated. The second is the Recent Activity section. This section is updated daily, and will reflect the most current account balance.

What if my parent does not have a Social Security Number?

Your parent will not be able to borrow a Federal Parent PLUS loan without a Social Security Number; please contact our office for additional financing options.

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

Interest for subsidized loans begins accruing after the six-month grace period (post-graduation or during a period of less-than-halftime enrollment longer than six months). If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact our office.

Unsubsidized Loans begin to accrue interest once the loan has disbursed to the student account.

Why can’t I see my own tax return information when transferring the data?

Your tax return information is not visible because of added security and privacy protections.

Can the school see the data that’s transferred from the IRS?

Yes. We will have access to the tax return information that is transferred via the IRS DRT and will follow up with you if we notice issues or need more information.

As an undocumented student, am I eligible for financial aid?

Yes, Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status.

For admissions purposes, undocumented students are considered international and their applications are evaluated in a need-aware manner. This means that the admissions committee takes into consideration how much financial aid a student requires when rendering an admissions decision. Columbia admits a large number of international students, many of whom receive a substantial amount of financial aid.

Undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so we meet their need entirely from Columbia funding.

I hold DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. What types of financial aid can I receive?

Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status. Undocumented students, including those with DACA status, are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so Columbia meets their need entirely from institutional resources.

How do I apply for financial aid as an undocumented student?

Undocumented students should not file the FAFSA, whether or not they hold DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. Undocumented students should submit the CSS Profile as well as prior year federal tax returns and W-2s via IDOC. If applicable, the CSS Non-Custodial Profile and/or Business/Farm tax forms should also be submitted.

Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status. Undocumented students, regardless of DACA status, are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so we meet their need entirely from Columbia funding.

If my DACA status changes, will my financial aid change?

All undocumented students, including those with DACA status, are considered as foreign citizens and their financial aid is funded entirely from institutional grants and not federal funding. Thus, a student's DACA status (or change in such) would have no impact on existing financial aid.

Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status.

When will I be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

You will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if you have indicated that you have not yet filed or will not file a 2016 tax return; if you filed electronically within the last 3 weeks or through the mail within the last 11 weeks; if you filed a foreign or Puerto Rican tax return; if you filed a tax return using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN); or if you indicated on the FAFSA that you are married but filed separately from your spouse (Married, Filing Separately; or Head of Household).

What if my PLUS Loan application is denied based on adverse credit?

You may still be eligible to receive a PLUS loan. To become eligible you must either:

· Obtain an endorser.

Or

· Document extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education.

· In either situation, you will need to complete PLUS Credit Counseling, prior to becoming eligible for the PLUS loan.

Why would my PLUS loan application be denied?

Please review the Adverse Credit Conditions considered by the Department of Education on their FAQ page.

What will my bill look like?

Your financial aid award is separate from your bill. The financial aid budget includes billed items (such as tuition & fees, housing and meal plan) and unbilled items (such as books, and personal expenses), which will not appear on the bill. Your Estimated Family Contribution (Parent Contribution plus Student Contribution) will not match your bill dollar for dollar.

Additional information about the E-Billing process is sent students during the summer. The Fall semester E-Bill will be sent to students and authorized payers in mid-August and is due in early September.

For an estimate of what your bill will look like, please utilize our Bill Estimator Tool (available in July).

Are there student/parent loans available?

Some students and families choose to finance a portion of their Parent Contribution (PC) or Student Contribution (SC) with education loans. Information on different financing options is available on the Education Loans portion of our website.

Does Columbia offer a payment plan?

Yes. Families may finance all or a portion of the bill through either a 5 month (one semester’s bill) or 10 month payment plan (full academic year). More information on the payment plan is available on Student Financial Services' website.

How do refunds work?

In cases where a student’s financial aid overpays the billed charges, and a surplus is formed, this credit will be refunded to the student via check or direct deposit. To set up direct deposit, the student should log into Student Services Online (SSOL) and click on the Refund option.

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