Financial aid support for parents

Seeing your student off to college is an exciting and proud moment. It also often means helping him or her complete paperwork for financial aid and budget for tuition and other college expenses. The Financial Aid Office is here to help.

See what types of information guardians need to provide in order for dependent students to apply for financial aid. View all financial aid videos.

Financial aid and scholarships decrease the published tuition rate, meaning college may be more affordable than you think. Remember, the net cost, or what your family would actually pay, is typically much lower than the "sticker price."

Financial aid takes into account the cost of attendance, which includes tuition, books, supplies, housing and meals. Once you piece together grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, your family can decide whether you need loans to cover any additional out-of-pocket expenses.

Funding options

Columbia College has a number of automatic merit-based scholarships, as well as need-based aid. Your student’s admissions counselor can help determine eligibility. 

There are many organizations that also offer scholarships for academic achievement, need and special characteristics. We recommend that your student apply for external scholarships. 

The first step in the financial aid process is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If your student is younger than 24, you will likely need to provide financial information in order to apply for federal and state programs. Federal programs include grants, which do not have to be repaid, low-interest loan and Work-Study. Completion of the FAFSA does not require that you take out loans.

If you need additional funding, we recommend you consider Parent PLUS loans . A PLUS loan is a credit-based loan in a parent’s name and can be approved for up to the cost of attendance for your student. PLUS loans are based on credit approval each year. A PLUS Loan Data Sheet must be completed by the parent borrower each year.

Students may also apply for credit-based private loans, but we encourage you to exhaust all federal options first.

Make sure you and your student pay attention to important dates and deadlines.

Parent forms 

We have parent forms, worksheets and documents available for your convenience. You may also view a checklist as your student gets closer to starting college.