Financial Aid

What is FAFSA?

All students are expected to contribute towards the cost of their college education. How much you and your family will be expected to contribute depends on your financial situation which is what is referred to as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to determine your EFC by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal processor contracted by the DoE, and the results are electronically sent to the financial aid offices at the schools you listed on your application.

The FAFSA is the application you will use to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants and educational loans. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to help pay for year college or vocational school.

Eligibility Requirement

Who can apply for FAFSA for 2021-2022 award year?

Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, regardless of income, provided that you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Are not in default on a federal loan or owe money on a federal grant
  • Are registered with the Selective Service, if you are a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in school

Many non-U.S. citizens qualify for federal student aid.
If you fall in one of the categories below, you are considered an “eligible noncitizen.”

  1. You are a
    • U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or
    • U.S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.
  2. You have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing
    • “Refugee,”
    • “Asylum Granted,”
    • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending),”
    • “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980), or
    • “Parolee” (you must be paroled for at least one year and your status has not expired)
    • You hold a T-visa (for victims of human trafficking) or your parent holds a T-1 visa.
    • You are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are the child of a person designated as such under the Violence against Women Act.
    • You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau.

Many non-U.S. citizens do not qualify for federal student aid.
If you fall into one of the categories below, you are not eligible for federal student aid.

  • F-1, F-2 student visa
  • J-1, or J2 exchange visitor visa
  • B-1 or B-2 visitor visa
  • G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)
  • H series or L series visa (allowing temporary employment in the U.S.)
  • “Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent residence” (I-171 or I-464)
  • I-94 stamped “ Temporary Protected Status” (TPS)
Selective Service

Almost all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they reside, and non-citizens living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required by Federal law to register with the Selective Service. The failure to register with Selective Service may forfeit your eligibility for financial aid. You can register for the Selective Service by selecting the appropriate option on the FAFSA at or at the Selective Service registration website, www.sss.govMen exempted from the requirement to register include:

  • Males currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces
  • Males who are not yet 18 at the time that they complete their FAFSA application
  • Males born before 1960
  • Citizens of the Palau, the Republic of Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia
  • Noncitizens who first entered the U.S. after their 26th birthday
  • Noncitizens who entered the U.S. as lawful nonimmigrants on a valid visa AND remained in the U.S. on the terms of that visa until after their 26th birthday.

You may be requested to prove the reason that you have not registered with Selective Service. In that case, please complete and submit Selective Service Verification Form with any required documents to the Office of Financial Aid.

If you are male, over the age of 26 and are not registered with the Selective Service, then you must submit a Status Information Letter with all copies of any supporting information to the Selective Service System. This letter will either confirm that you were not required to register before the age of 26 or that you were required to register and failed to do so. This letter must include the reason why you failed to register. Then, you must submit the confirmation letter from the Selective Service System to the Office of Financial Aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal and state regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards toward earning their diploma or certificate in order to maintain their status and/or to be eligible for federally supported financial aid programs. It is a measurement of a student’s successful progress in his/her studies to fulfill the requirements expressed by the Higher Education Act (HEA) of the U.S. Department of Education. All students are measured by qualitative and quantitative standards.

Qualitative and Quantitative Standards 

Financial aid recipients must meet both a “qualitative” and a “quantitative” standard to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Students must maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average (GPA) to meet the qualitative standard.

Attendance and Evaluation 

Fulltime students who are enrolling in certificate programs must be enrolled in at least 18 credit hours per week. Students in associate degree programs are required to take 12 credits. The academic office and financial aid office carry out the monitoring process of SAP to determine whether students are making satisfactory academic progress. If a student fails to fulfill the minimum requirement of the SAP, a notification (warning letter, probation notice, dismissal notice) is issued from the academic office and the information is then forwarded to the financial aid office and each department director. The incremental evaluation time for SAP is at the end of each 10-week session, meaning satisfactory progress of a student is evaluated every ten weeks.
Students must meet the minimum SAP standard to remain in good standing toward their completion of the program. If a student does not meet the standard, he/she will be placed on the status which needs special advices and/or restrictions. Students who fail to attain the SAP can still enroll in the program and receive federal financial aid unless his/her status at Columbia College is terminated.
Any student who needs to miss a class for a medical reason must submit a doctor’s note describing the medical condition. Any student who fails to take a final test will not be able to move to the next level, regardless of his/her attendance rate and level of performance in classroom activities and assignments.

To Keep Receiving Award Funds the Student Must:
  • Maintain a minimum Grade Point Average of C (2.0) at all times
  • Complete at least 2/3 of required coursework
  • Complete program of study within 150% of published program length for the degree-seeking students, measured in attempted units (For example: a maximum of 90 attempted session units are allowed to complete an Associate or Transfer program of 60 required unit. A student becomes ineligible for further financial aid if they exceed 90 session units.
  • Complete program of study within regular published program length if they are an ESL student.
Student Responsibilities

It is the student’s responsibility to monitor satisfactory academic progress as it relates to maintaining eligibility for financial aid. The Financial Aid Office assists with periodic measurement and notification to students who fail to meet these standards.
NOTE: The SAP Policy for financial aid recipients is different from the College’s satisfactory progress standards maintained by the Counseling Department that places students on academic warning, probation or suspension for failure to achieve a 2.0 grade point average.


FSA ID replaces Federal Student Aid PIN
Beginning May 10, 2015, the Federal Student Aid PIN will be replaced with an FSA ID.

To eliminate the need for individuals to enter personal identifiers (Social Security number, name, and date of birth) when accessing Federal Student Aid’s systems, Federal Student Aid has implemented a new login process for student and borrower websites, including FAFSA on the Web, NSLDS® Student Access, and

The new FSA ID, comprised of a user-selected username and password, has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN as the process by which students, parents, and borrowers authenticate their identity to access their federal student aid information.

  • Existing users may link their PIN information to the FSA ID. More information here.
  • Student and parents of dependents students can create the FSA ID here.
  •  How to create an FSA ID
The FSA ID process consists of three main steps:
  1. Enter your log-in information.
    • Provide your e-mail address, a unique username, and password, and verify that you are at least 18 years old.
  2. Enter your personal information.
    • Provide your Social Security number, name, and date of birth.
    • Include your mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and language preference.
    • For security purposes, provide answers to four challenge questions.
  3. Submit your FSA ID information.
    • Agree to the terms and conditions.
    • Verify your e-mail address. (Note: By verifying your e-mail address, you can use your e-mail address as your username when logging into certain ED websites. This verification also allows you to retrieve your username or reset your password without answering challenge questions.)

Frequently Asked Questions

As you complete the FAFSA, you should have the following records available to help you answer questions on the application. Prepare the following information to apply for the FAFSA:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s license (if any)
  • Permanent Resident Card (if you are not a U.S citizen), I-94 (if you are a refugee or an asylee)
  • 20197 income tax return & W-2 & Other income records
  • Parents’ 2019 income tax return (if you are a dependent student)
  • Current bank statements
  • Current stock, bond, and other investment records

Yes! If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. The FAFSA Renewal must be submitted each academic year. Students who provided their email address on the FAFSA will receive email notification of the FAFSA Renewal online. Filing a Renewal FAFSA is much quicker and easier than filing a new FAFSA form.

Financial Aid Deadlines

To be considered for federal student aid for the 2021–22 award year, you can complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form between Oct. 1, 2020, and 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2022.The following dates must be met to be considered for financial aid for the 2021-2022 award year. (Academic Calendar)
Deadlines are 10 days before the beginning of new classes. 

SessionClass Starting DateDeadline
2022 Spring I A01/18/202201/07/2022
2022 Spring I B02/22/202202/11/2022
2022 Spring II A03/28/202203/18/2022
2022 Spring II B05/02/202204/22/2022
2022 Summer A06/06/202205/27/2022
2022 Summer B07/11/202207/01/2022
2022 Fall A08/22/2022 08/12/2022
2022 Fall B09/26/2022 09/16/2022
2022 Winter A10/31/2022 10/21/2022
2022 Winter B12/05/202211/25/2022