Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

FAQs: Graduate Students

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How do I defer my undergraduate loan repayment?

Columbia University will send your enrollment status to the National Student Loan Clearinghouse after the add/drop period each semester.  If you have loans from lenders who do not work with this clearinghouse, you may request a certificate of enrollment online through SSOL to submit to your lender.

Are there any other funding opportunities?

Students may be funded by their academic department.  Any students who receive these funds are notified at the time of admission.  There is no separate application process.  Students may also search for available scholarships and fellowships online:  http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/other-funding

What if I change the number of credits I am taking?

Loan eligibility is directly tied to the number of credits you are enrolled in each semester.  If you add or drop a class after your loans have been processed, our office will make adjustments as appropriate based on your new loan eligibility.  Students who drop below half-time will no longer be eligible for federal student loans.

Should I borrow Federal Loans or Private Loans?

Federal loans have a variety of repayment options, low fees and fixed interest rates for the life of the loan.  Private loans may have lower interest rates, but these rates are often not fixed, and fees can vary.  It is up to each borrow to choose the loan that makes the most sense for their individual needs.  We recommend speaking with a Financial Aid Officer if you have questions prior to borrowing.

How much should I borrow?

Students may borrow up to the full cost of attendance in student loans.  However, we recommend only borrowing what you need: this may be only to cover billed expenses or it may be to cover both billed and non-billed expenses.  If you have questions about your borrowing need, please contact our office to speak with a Financial Aid Officer.  Additionally if students receive any type of other funding, please note your loan eligibility will change.  

Are there loans for international students?

International students may seek private lenders for available education loans.  Some lenders may require a U.S. co-signer.  Columbia offers a suggested lender list online, but students may choose a lender not on that list as well.

Where can I see my bill?

Students may view their bill online through their SSOL account

Can I borrow loans to cover non-billed items like rent, books and personal expenses?

Yes, students may borrow up to the full cost of attendance.  This includes both billed and non-billed expenses.  All loans will first disburse to the student account.  Once all charges are paid, any excess loan funds will be refunded to the student via direct deposit or paper check.  

How do I meet with a Financial Aid Officer?

We have walk-in hours each day from 9:30-4:30pm, except Tuesday from 9:30-2:30pm.  Pre-scheduled appointments are not required.  Officers are also available by phone at 212-854-3711.