Determine Your Financial Aid Eligibility

You must satisfy general eligibility requirements in order to be eligible for federal financial aid at Columbia College. The Financial Aid Office is responsible for ensuring that each student has met federal eligibility requirements before awarding federal Title IV funds.

To receive federal Title IV funds, students must:

  • Be enrolled or accepted into a degree program at Columbia College. Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for federal financial aid.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time for federal loan eligibility. Half-time enrollment is six hours during a 16-week semester for undergraduate students at three hours during a 16-week semester for graduate students.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, or eligible non-citizen;
  • Have a valid Social Security Number. The student and parents of dependent students should enter on the FAFSA the name and number printed on Social Security cards. Any name change should first be updated with the Social Security Administration.
  • Have a high school diploma/GED/recognized equivalent. Students asked for documentation should submit an official high school transcript, official college academic transcript with 60 transferable hours, a copy of GED or documentation of homeschooling.
  • Not be enrolled simultaneously in elementary/secondary school;
  • Meet satisfactory academic progress;
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan; Students must resolve any defaulted loan or overpayment to be reviewed for financial aid. Students must make arrangement with the holder of the overpayment or servicer of defaulted loan. Visit to retrieve information using your FSA ID.
  • Not owe a Title IV grant/loan overpayment;
  • Not have borrowed in excess of annual/aggregate Title IV limits;
  • Not have Unusual Enrollment History Flag on Student Aid Report; The Financial Aid Office will resolve UEH Flags by reviewing records and past enrollments. If a student received Pell Grant or Direct Loan funds and did not earn academic credit, students may submit an Explanation for Unusual Enrollment History form.
  • Have financial need; Students must submit and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to show financial need. The Financial Aid Office will determine financial need based on FAFSA results.
  • Have repaid Title IV funds obtained fraudulently;
  • Not have property subject to a judgment lien for U.S. debt.

Students must also sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that he or she will use Title IV aid only to pay educational expenses and he or she is not in default on a federal student loan and does not owe money on a federal student grant.

Documents may be requested to meet the requirements listed above. All requests for documents are sent to a student's CougarMail. Parents or guardians must also be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens with valid Social Security numbers to be eligible for a Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Graduate PLUS Loan or Federal Parent PLUS Loan.

Citizenship Requirements

Students must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens to receive Title IV federal aid. If applying for PLUS loans, parents must also be citizens or eligible non-citizens. Eligible non-citizens are those in the United States with the intention of becoming citizens or lawful permanent residents.

You are considered a citizen or eligible non-citizen if you are a:

U.S. citizens (citizens of):

  • The 50 States
  • The District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • The Northern Marian Islands
  • Born abroad to U.S. parents

U.S. Nationals:

  • All U.S. Citizens
  • Natives of American Samoa (not considered a U.S. citizen)
  • Natives of Swain's Island (not considered a U.S. citizen)
  • Natives of American Samoa and Swain's Island are eligible to receive funds from federal programs except the ACG/National SMART grants

Acceptable Documentation

  • Copy of student's birth certificate.
  • Current or expired U.S. Passports.
  • Copy of State Department Forms FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad), FS0-545 (Certificate of birth issued by a foreign service post), or DS-1350 (Certification of Report of Birth).
  • Certificate of Citizenship (Forms N-560 or N561).
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Forms N-550 or N-570).

Eligible Non-citizen Requirements

Eligible non-citizens must provide acceptable documentation based on their status. Please provide the following listed under your eligible non-citizen status:

Conditional entrants

Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) granted before March 31, 1980, with a stamp indicating that the student has been admitted to the U.S. as a conditional entrant.

Cuban-Haitian entrants

Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp indication that the student has been classified as a "Cuban-Haitian Entrant."

Person paroled into the U.S. for at least 1 year

Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp indication that the student has been paroled into the United States for at least one year, with a date that has not yet expired.

Persons granted asylum

  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp stating admissions.
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp stating admissions.


Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp stating admission.

U.S. Permanent residents
  • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 since 1997) or Resident Alien Card (Form I-551 before 1997).
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-151) issued prior to June 1978.
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) or the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94A) with the following endorsement: "Processed for I-551."
  • Machine Readable Immigrant Visa (MRIV).

Victims of human trafficking

  • Student's certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • For a spouse, child, or parent of a trafficking victim, T-visa (T-2 or T-3), victim's certification letter.

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