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General loan requirements & regulations

To be eligible for a Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Graduate PLUS Loan or Federal Parent PLUS Loan, you must meet the following requirements.

Both students and parents:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid social security number


  • Must not be in default on a federal student loan.
  • Must not owe money back on a federal grant to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Must be enrolled at least half time. 6 hours over a 16-week semester or 3 hours over an 8-week session counts as half time.
  • Student must have a High School Diploma, GED, completed homeschooling, or submit an official academic transcript that shows successful completion of a two-year program that is acceptable for transfer toward a bachelor's degree at Columbia College. Students who were enrolled in an eligible program of study before July 1, 2012, may continue to be considered with 6 transfer credit hours for transfer toward an eligible program at Columbia College. 
  • Student must be degree-seeking at Columbia College (and enrolled in and attending courses that count toward that degree).
  • Student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Student must not have had aid eligibility suspended due to federal or state drug conviction.

Stafford annual loan limits

Stafford loan program annual maximums

Year In School Credit Hours Dependent Independent or dependent W/PLUS Denial
Freshman 0 - 29 $5,500 $9,500
Sophomore 30-59 $6,500 $10,500
Junior 60-89 $7,500 $12,500
Senior 90+ $7,500 $12,500
Post-Bacc N/A $5,500 $12,500
Graduate N/A N/A $20,500

* Annual maximums include both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. These limits apply to loans borrowed from August through July. Amounts listed are the maximum amount a student may receive annually. Lifetime loan limits, proration, cost of attendance as well as other factors may keep a student from being eligible for the full annual maximum.

Stafford lifetime loan limits

Aggregate Limits: Aggregate limit is the maximum amount that a student can receive in federal Stafford loan eligibility.

Stafford Loan aggregate limits are as follows for undergraduate and graduate students:

  • Dependent undergraduate students: $31,000 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized
  • Independent undergraduate students or dependent students with a parent PLUS loan denial: $57,500 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized
  • Graduate students: $138,500 total, of which $23,000 can be subsidized

Students can review all loans received through the federal education loan programs at

Proration of Stafford loans

Columbia College is required by federal regulations to prorate, or adjust, Stafford loan amounts when students have less than a full year's worth of courses (24 credit hours) to complete their degree. If a student will graduate in less than four 8-weeks sessions or in one semester for a 16-week student, Columbia College is required to prorate. The financial aid office will calculate an eligible percentage amount for the expected remaining sessions and the student will be notified by CougarMail.


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