Financial Aid (FAFSA)
WEEK 1: Course attendance recorded.
WEEK 2: Eligible disbursements occur.
Some types of Financial Aid may be disbursed only per individual 8-week session. Some examples include:
- Pell Grant
- One Semester Loans
- Access MO Grant
WEEK 3: Eligible refunds are prepared mid-week to be released on the 3rd Friday of each session. The earliest refund date is the 3rd Friday of each 8-week session.
WEEK 4-8: Any additional eligible refunds will be reviewed and released on Fridays until the close of the session.
Tuition Assistance With Financial Aid
To stay on schedule, tuition assistance authorization forms should be submitted to the appropriate organization prior to session start dates.
WEEK 1: Course attendance recorded.
WEEK 3-4: Tuition assistance reviewed for crediting or invoicing. Eligible refunds reviewed and released on Fridays.
Note: The earliest refund date is the 3rd Friday of each 8-week session.
Some tuition assistance is provided through other organizations. If the organization providing TA requires an invoice, no credit will be applied to the student’s account until the college has received payment.
If you are enrolled for an entire semester (two 8-week sessions), and the organization pays one 8-week session at a time; you will not receive a refund until the organization pays for the second 8-week session. This normally occurs after the second session begins.
Understanding The Refund Process
Payment Plans: At time of course registration, all students are required to be enrolled in a payment plan arrangement. The payment plan includes all of the 16-week Semester Charges (Early and Late 8-week sessions combined). By default, most loans are established as a multiple semester loan. If this is the case and all eligibility is met, then the entire semester loan will disburse upfront early in the session. If financial aid disbursements or outside payments credit the student’s account on a session-by-session basis, then a refund may not occur until the midpoint of the semester (the late session). For more information regarding how to check for session specific disbursements, see chart and links below.
For steps on how to enroll into payment plans, please visit ePayments Guide.
Registration: Since payment plans include all of the available 16-week semester charges, and have the potential for the entire semester loan disbursement to credit upfront in the Early 8-week Session, it is important to note that both sessions of course registration will need to be completed before the first round of refunds are prepared. This will ensure the semester loan will credit toward both early and late session tuition charges. For more information, visit the refund timeline.
Disbursement: This means active and eligible Financial Aid has been credited to your account, lowering the balance. This still may be adjusted/reversed and is only finalized once a refund has been released from Columbia College to the student. Loan eligibility requires a minimum of 6 credit hours of enrollment (within the entire 16-week semester) to receive a disbursement
Attendance: Since Columbia College is an attendance-driven institution, course attendance must be marked “present” in order to determine eligible disbursements. Being marked “absent” for the first week of courses will delay the first refund. The Department of Education does not recognize “absent” or “excused absence” as eligible for Financial Aid disbursements.
Refund: This is the process when any combination of disbursements and/or payments have exceeded the current payment plan charge and the excess amount is released from Columbia College and sent to the student.
The first step is that the overall term balance will reflect a negative number. Columbia College Policy is to only release refunds when this occurs. If the over-payment or disbursement occurs by a Monday, then the refund is expected be set up during the week and be ready to release on Friday (refund timeline). Once a refund is put together, the Term Balance will return back to $0.
For information on receiving refunds directly to a bank account, please visit Direct Deposit Setup.
The Earliest Refund release date for each session is the 3rd Friday of the session.