May 19, 2024  
Undergraduate Catalog 2022-2023 
    
Undergraduate Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Certificate Program Aid


Students may opt to seek a certificate at the same time as another degree or seek a certificate alone.  For students seeking another degree and a certificate, see Financial Aid and Scholarships  for information for your degree program.  The aid information below applies to students who are seeking a certificate alone.  

Title IV aid eligible certificates that are less than an academic year in length

Columbia College’s Title IV aid certificate programs are considered non-term programs. A non-term program is considered a program that does not begin and end within a set period of time that can overlap terms. These programs are offered by the College to be completed in less than 24 credit hours, which is less than the standard academic year.  

The determination of a student’s individual aid award is dependent on the student meeting the individual eligibility requirements and the calculations required to keep the student within the student’s financial need.  The general requirements for each type of aid is listed below.

Enrollment periods and enrollment status

Students seeking a certificate (not also seeking a degree) have two periods used to calculate enrollment. The first period is half the weeks and half the hours in the specified certificate program. Once a student completes half the weeks and half the hours the student enters a 2nd period.

Enrollment periods (and status, as applicable) are used to determine:

  • eligibility for aid disbursement
  • the time-frame for Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress  review
  • enrollment reporting required by the federal government for purposes such as loan deferment
  • the 60% completion point for the purpose of the Return of Title IV Funds  process, which may not align with the traditional semester 60% completion point

Below are full time and half time enrollment status criteria specific to programs: 

Digital Marketing for Real Estate Certificate

  • Full time 8 credits over 12 weeks
  • Half time 4 credits over 12 weeks

Real Estate Leadership Certificate

  • Full time 8 credits over 12 weeks
  • Half time 4 credits over 12 weeks

Real Estate Negotiation Certificate

  • Full time 8 credits over 12 weeks
  • Half time 4 credits over 12 weeks

Crime Scene Investigation Certificate

  • Full time 10 credits over 12 weeks
  • Half time 5 credits over 12 weeks

Certified Medical Assistant Certificate

  • Full time 10 credits over 16 weeks
  • Half time 5 credits over 16 weeks

Federal Pell Grants

To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA®) form. Certificate program students receiving the Pell Grant will have their award adjusted to the certificate program aid requirements and prorated to the program length. The annual award for the certificate program is taken from the full-time payment schedule if the student is attending at least half-time.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a grant awarded to an undergraduate student who demonstrates exceptional financial need to help pay for their education. Priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients. The availability of funding is limited. 

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans

 There are annual and lifetime aggregate limits to loan amounts.

  • Certificate program students are eligible for grade level one loans.  Loans will be prorated based on the hours left to complete the program since the program is less than an academic year.
  • Students with previous coursework in a certificate program at Columbia College will have a calculated loan amount based on hours left to complete the program. The percentage will adjust based on remaining courses left for the program. 
  • Students in certificate programs with terms less than an academic year will be awarded using Borrower Based Academic Year rules. These rules are tailored to the student and begin with at least half-time enrollment. Students must successfully complete courses and weeks of study in the program to be eligible for additional aid disbursements.         
  • Certificate programs (non-term) have two payment periods in which a loan may disburse.  The first payment period is when the student successfully completes half the number of credits and half the number of weeks of instructional time in the program. A loan cannot disburse in the second payment period until the first payment period is complete. The second payment period is the period of time in which the student successfully completes the program.
  • Students in certificate programs with terms less than an academic year will be awarded using rules
  • The certificate program has a subsidized loan eligible limit (for first-time borrowers on or after July 1, 2013)

Aid Disbursement

A student’s financial aid (except Federal Work-Study) is credited directly to their student account and applied to tuition and fees for each semester/session as well as housing, if applicable. Aid funds are credited for other charges with authorization from the student through the electronic award notification process. Federal Work-Study funds are paid in the form of a biweekly paycheck for authorized hours worked.

The initial financial aid award is evenly distributed between two payment periods. For aid to disburse, the recipient must be attending courses and enrolled at least half-time. 

Students enrolled in certificate programs will not be eligible for a loan disbursement (the second payment period disbursement) until the student successfully completes half the number of credits and half the number of weeks of instructional time in the program.  The federal Pell Grant will disburse for a payment period after confirmation of attendance for a term. 

Students may deduct the amount of aid that has been awarded (except Federal Work-Study) from what is owed to the College once they have registered for courses. If a student’s financial aid awards exceed their charges, the student could receive a refund. Estimated refund dates can be found on the Enrollment Service Center’s website under “Financial Aid Disbursements & Refunds.” Refunds are either mailed to the student at their home address or sent electronically to the student’s bank account via direct deposit. Students who elect for the direct deposit option can set this up through their ePayment account. 

To assist with expenses associated with attending Columbia College, students often receive funds from multiple sources that are to be used specifically (exclusively) for tuition. Funding beyond 100% of the tuition cost will not be returned to the student or applied to other expenses. These sources include, but are not limited to military/corporate tuition assistance, VA Educational Benefits, MyCAA, institutional aid, endowed aid and Employee Educational Grant (EGG)/ Employee Graduate Educational Grant (GEG). The College will apply the non-institutional tuition-only funding sources first. Any excess funds remaining after the tuition has been 100% paid will be returned to the funding source and not the student.

Repeated Coursework

Students in a certificate program will not be eligible to receive federal aid for previously taken coursework, including a class that a student took at previous institutions. If a student enrolls in a course that is not eligible for federal aid, the ineligible course will be excluded from federal aid eligibility calculations for that payment period.  The federal aid disbursed will be calculated on eligible coursework for that payment period.     

Return of Title IV Funds

Financial aid is awarded to students with the expectation that the student attends school for the period for which the assistance is awarded. Completion of a payment period occurs when a student successfully completes the hours and weeks of instructional time in the period. If a student does not begin attendance (or withdraws) all of their classes, the aid must be recalculated based on the actual attendance. Students who are not in attendance for the courses they enrolled in are not eligible to receive financial aid. Please refer to the Financial Aid section regarding attendance requirements for financial aid purposes.

In the event a student withdraws from all courses for any reason, including medical withdrawals or stops attending class, the College is required to determine if the student has fully earned the awarded Title IV aid. The return of funds is based upon the premise that students earn their financial aid in proportion to the amount of time in which they are enrolled. A pro-rated schedule is used to determine the amount of federal student aid funds he/she will have “earned” at the time of the withdrawal and return the “unearned” disbursed funds to the appropriate federal program. A student’s payment period for Return of Title IV (R2T4) purposes is half the weeks and half the hours in the program, including the student’s original enrollment and any additional days that it would take to complete half of the program. All certificate students who receive Title IV aid and withdraw prior to the end date of a payment period will be reviewed to determine whether unearned Title IV aid must be returned.  The term “Title IV aid” refers to the following Federal financial aid programs: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal PLUS (Parent/Graduate) loans, Federal Pell Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG), and Federal SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant).

In order to determine whether a student’s unearned Title IV aid must be returned, as an attendance-taking institution, Columbia College must determine the student’s withdrawal date.  Attendance is considered more than logging into an online course or physically attending an in-seat course. Students who do not attend courses may be academically withdrawn for non-attendance and may be required to return Title IV aid. See Withdrawal Policy

The College considers students to have withdrawn as follows:

  • Students who cease attendance from all of their courses eligible for Title IV aid will be considered to have withdrawn. 
  • A student is considered to have withdrawn if the student does not complete all the days in the payment period the student.

The withdrawal date is the last date of attendance of an academically-related activity by a student as recorded by instructors. The College determines a student’s earned and unearned Title IV aid based on a required calculation that determines the percentage of the payment period completed by the student.  Students who withdraw from a certificate program will have a student-specific payment period calculated based on the student’s number of weeks completed and credits earned within the certificate program. Until a student has passed the 60% point of a payment period, only a portion of the student’s aid has been earned. Because the payment period for certificate seeking students is student-specific, the 60% point will also be student-specific and may not align with the traditional semester payment period. 

The College allows students to provide written confirmation at or close to the time of withdrawal that he or she will attend class(es) that will begin later in the same payment period.

A student is not considered to have withdrawn if the College obtains a written confirmation AND the student will begin course(s) within 60 days after ceasing attendance.

Students who withdraw but reenters the same certificate program within 180 days is considered to be in the same payment period they were in at the time of the withdrawal. The student will retain their original eligibility for the payment period and is treated as though they did not cease attendance. The R2T4 calculation will be reversed, and the College will reinstate all aid that was previously returned to the Department of Education. The College will also review its records to determine if the student was eligible for aid that had not disbursed at the time of the withdrawal.

Determining Earned Aid

Until a student has passed the 60% point of a payment period, only a portion of the student’s aid has been earned. All students who withdraw, including those who remain enrolled beyond the 60% point, will be reviewed to determine whether unearned Title IV aid must be returned or whether post-withdrawal disbursements of Title IV aid are due.  

If the total amount of Title IV aid that a student earned is greater than the total amount of Title IV aid that was disbursed to the student (or on behalf of the student in the case of a PLUS loan) as of the date of determination, the difference between these amounts will be treated as a post-withdrawal disbursement.  A post-withdrawal grant disbursement payment will be made to the student’s account, and a notification sent by email.

A post-withdrawal of loan eligibility will be communicated to the student via email. Students must accept the loan via the Self-Service Financial Aid award and notify the College in writing of their interest in receiving the loan within 14 days of the notification. Once the College receives both acceptances, the loan funds will disburse to the students account. Responding after 14 days or not at all will result in forfeiture of the student’s loans for the period of enrollment.

Earned aid is not related in any way to institutional charges. The College’s refund policy and Return of Title IV Funds procedures are independent of one another. A student who withdraws from a course may be required to return unearned aid and still owe the College for the course. For more information on the Columbia College withdrawal and institutional charges’ policies, please consult the Columbia College catalog. A student may request a Return of Title IV Funds estimate by contacting the Financial Aid office at financialaid@ccis.edu.

The responsibility to repay unearned Title IV aid is shared by Columbia College and the student. For example, the calculation may require Columbia College to return a portion of Federal funds to the Federal Title IV programs. In addition, the student may also be required to return funds based on the calculation. A student returns funds to the Federal Stafford loan programs based on the terms and conditions of the promissory note of the loan. A student who receives a Federal Pell Grant may be required to repay 50% of the funds received.

The return of Federal aid is in the following order: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal Perkins loans, Federal PLUS (Parent/Graduate) loans, Federal Pell Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant (IASG), and Federal SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant).

How to Handle an Overpayment

Students who owe funds to a grant program are required to make payment of those funds within 45 days of being notified in writing via CougarMail that they owe this overpayment. During the 45 day period students will remain eligible for Title IV funds. If no positive action is taken by the student within 45 days of being notified, Columbia College will notify the U.S. Department of Education of the student’s overpayment situation. The student will no longer be eligible for Title IV funds until they enter into a satisfactory repayment agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.

During the 45-day period, the student can make full payment to Columbia College of the overpayment. The College will forward the payment to the U.S. Department of Education and the student will remain eligible for Title IV funds. Please make check payable to Columbia College, Attn: Director of Accounting. Our mailing address is Columbia College, 1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216

If a student is unable to pay their overpayment in full, they can set up a repayment plan with the U.S. Department of Education. Before doing this, please contact the Columbia College Financial Aid Office. You will need to make sure we have referred your situation to the U.S. Department of Education before any repayment plan can be set up.  Additional information is available from the Federal Student Aid Information Center at: (https://fsapartners.ed.gov/help-center/fsa-customer-service-center/service-centers-for-students/federal-student-aid-information-center-fsaic).

For questions about Return of Title IV Funds calculations or the overpayment policy please contact the Financial Aid Office, financialaid@ccis.edu.