Mar 01, 2024  
Undergraduate Catalog 2022-2023 
Undergraduate Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Eligibility Requirements for Federal Aid

To be eligible for federal financial aid at Columbia College, a student must satisfy general eligibility requirements.  The financial aid office is responsible for ensuring that each student has met the federal eligibility requirements before awarding federal Title IV funds. 

Students are required to:

  • Be a regular student enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible program at Columbia College;
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or national, or eligible non-citizen;
  • Have a correct Social Security Number;
  • Have a high school diploma or recognized equivalent of a high school diploma;
  • Not be enrolled simultaneously in elementary or secondary school;
  • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress; 
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan or owe a Title IV grant or loan overpayment;
  • Not have borrowed in excess of annual or aggregate Title IV loan limits;
  • Not have an Unusual Enrollment History Flag on a Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • Have financial need;
  • 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;  
  • Have repaid Title IV funds obtained fraudulently;
  • Not have property subject to a judgment lien for a debt owed to the United States.

Documents may be requested to meet the requirements listed above.  All requests for documents are sent to a student’s CougarMail. 

Eligible Programs of Study at Columbia College

To be eligible for federal aid at Columbia College, students are required to be degree-seeking at Columbia College and must enroll in coursework required for that degree. Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for federal financial aid. 

Students who would like to change the degree they are seeking should submit a Declaration of Major, which is available in CougarTrackStudents changing from a non-degree seeking status to degree-seeking may be required to submit additional documentation, such as transcripts, for admission to a program. 

What is Considered an Eligible Citizen or Eligible Non-Citizen?

A student (and parent, for PLUS Loan) must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen to receive Title IV federal aid. The general requirements for eligible non-citizens are that they be in the United States for more than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a citizen or lawful permanent resident, as evidenced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Acceptable Documentation of Citizenship or Eligible Non-Citizenship

Acceptable Documentation
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
  • 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).
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).
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp stating admission.
Victims of human trafficking
  • For the student: certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • For a spouse, child, or parent of a victim: T-visa (T-2 or T-3), victim’s certification letter.
Persons granted asylum
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp stating admissions.
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.
Person paroled into the U.S. for at least 1 year
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp indicating that the student has been paroled into the United States for at least one year with a date that has not yet expired.
Cuban-Haitian entrants
  • Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94 or I-94A) with a stamp indicating that the student has been classified as a “Cuban-Haitian Entrant.”

Correct Social Security Number and Name

When completing the FAFSA application, a student is required to enter his or her Social Security Number (SSN).  Students should enter the name and the SSN that is printed on his or her Social Security card.  If you have recently changed your name, you must update your name with the Social Security Administration. To update your name with Columbia College, submit a Name Change Request Form, available in the forms section of CougarTrack.

High School Diploma (or equivalent)

If the financial aid office requests that a student provide documentation of a high school diploma (or equivalent), a student should submit one of the following to the Office of the Registrar: an official college academic transcript with 60 transferable hours OR an official copy of high school transcript OR an official copy of GED or HISET OR documentation of homeschooling. Students who enrolled in an eligible college program before July 1, 2012, also have the option to submit an official college transcript with six hours of transfer credit.

Students who are required to submit documentation of high school completion for verification purposes should submit documentation matching the self-reported data on the FAFSA high school completion question. For example, if a student reported on the FAFSA that the high school completion was the GED test, the student should provide documentation of GED completion.

Unusual Enrollment History

The Department of Education (ED) uses Unusual Enrollment History Flags (UEH Flags) to assist in preventing fraud and abuse of the Federal Title IV student aid programs.

UEH Flags identify students who have received the Pell Grant or Direct Loans at multiple institutions in recent academic years. Some students may have legitimate reasons for enrolling at multiple institutions; however, if Columbia College’s Financial Aid office receives any UEH Flags from the ED, on a Student Aid Report (SAR), we are required to resolve them prior to awarding a student Title IV federal aid.

How Are Unusual Enrollment History Flags Resolved?

A student’s past enrollment and financial aid records will be reviewed by Columbia College to determine whether:

  •  The student received a Pell Grant or Direct Loan at Columbia College during the previous four academic years
  •  The student received academic credit at each of the previous institutions where they received the Pell Grant or Direct Loans

If it is determined that academic credit was not earned, the Financial Aid Office will notify the student to submit the Explanation for Unusual Enrollment History form found on CougarTrack.

Federal Aid Eligibility Denied for UEH

If a student did not earn academic credit at one or more of the previous institutions and does not provide a sufficient explanation or documentation for failure to earn academic credit, the Financial Aid office must deny any additional Title IV federal aid and the decision will be final.

Regaining Aid Eligibility for UEH

A student may regain Title IV federal aid eligibility when one semester is completed at Columbia College without Title IV federal aid and the following minimum requirements have been met:

  • Undergraduate student GPA of 2.0 & 100% pace of completion
  • Graduate student GPA of 3.0 & 100% pace of completion

To be eligible for federal financial aid at Columbia College, a student must satisfy general eligibility requirements.  The Financial Aid Office is responsible for ensuring that each student has met the relevant eligibility requirements before awarding federal Title IV funds.

Defaulted Loans, Overpayments, and Exceeded Loan Limits

If a student has a defaulted loan or an overpayment, the student must resolve it in order to be reviewed for federal aid. The student must make arrangements with the holder of the overpayment or servicer of the defaulted loan. The servicer contact information can be found by reviewing the National Student Loan Data System. Students must have their FSA ID in order to retrieve personal loan information. Additional questions regarding defaulted loans, overpayments, or exceeded loan limits should be sent to

Financial Need

In order for a student to be eligible for federal aid, the Financial Aid Office must first determine a student’s financial need based on the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who do not submit the FAFSA, or complete the verification process, will not be reviewed for federal aid until complete.