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FAQ

FAQ

Top Questions

How do I apply for federal student aid?

The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is the standardized application for Federal Student Aid and it is FREE to complete. Students (and parents – if you are classified as a dependent student) submit this application annually online. It can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is the U.S. Department of Education's official website for completion of the FAFSA and all services provided through the site are free.

Planning to apply for the 2017-18 Award Year?

If you are planning to apply for Federal Student Aid for the 2017-18 award year for attendance beginning Autumn Semester 2017 through Summer Semester 2018, you will be able to complete the FAFSA on October 1, 2016.  Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be using the prior year Federal tax return information.  For the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be required to use your filed 2015 Federal tax return information. 

For further information see FAFSA Filing Changes.  

Note:  In order for Columbus State Community College to be able to review your results from the Department of Education upon processing of your FAFSA, you must have already applied for admission to our college. Visit Admissions at Columbus State.

What documents do I need to collect to complete the FAFSA?

The FAFSA asks for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, when you filed taxes or what tax form you used), you may need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA:

  • Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information including tax returns (or Tax Return Transcripts) including IRS W-2 (or Wage and Income Transcripts) information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
    • IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ (or Tax Return Transcripts)
    • Foreign tax return and/or
    • Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received,  interest  income, and veterans non-education benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

For detailed information see "Filling Out the FAFSA."

Why am I still considered a "dependent" student on the FAFSA?

Federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family's responsibility to pay for your education to the full extent possible. Because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents' information must be assessed along with the student's, in order to get a full picture of the family's financial status. If you are a dependent student, it does not mean that your parents are required to pay anything toward your education, including their information is simply the method the Department of Education uses to evaluate everyone in a consistent manner.

Determining a student's dependency status is important in determining a student's eligibility for federal aid programs. Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. An applicant is considered to be a dependent student unless he or she can answer "Yes" to one of the questions in Section 3 of the FAFSA. If the student applicant answers "No" to all of the dependency status questions then he or she is considered to be a dependent student for federal student aid purposes and must provide parental information.

Please be aware that not living with your parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not make you an independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. Occasionally, unusual circumstances may exist that warrant a review of a student's dependency status. If you feel that you have a special circumstance that prevents you from including your parent's information on your application, contact the student financial aid office for more information.

What can I do if I have accepted all of my financial aid and it is still not enough to pay for school? How do I get more financial aid?

We always award students with their maximum eligibility in federal aid based on availability of funding. However, because of federal loan limits, students may not have enough federal funds to cover all of their educational costs. If you are in need of additional funding beyond the federal aid you were awarded, you could consider a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan. Only the parents of dependent students may apply for a PLUS Loan to offset costs.

What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw- or are reported as not attending by my instructors – from ALL my classes?

Financial Aid students who completely withdraw (or are reported as not attending by instructors) from ALL classes during a given term may be subject to repayment of federal funds to the U.S. Department of Education.  This requirement is called the “Return of Unearned Title IV Funds Policy.  The return of these funds may create a balance owed to the college. 

The policy states that a student must attend through the 60% point of the term in order to earn their federal financial aid.  Students are issued financial aid at the beginning of the semester in “good faith,” meaning that the student will follow through by attending and completing the classes that were paid through financial aid. 

The U. S. Department of Education requires that unearned Title IV calculations be based on the number of calendar days the student actually attended the course divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester.

How will my financial aid be affected if I drop some of my classes?

If you drop your level of enrollment after the financial aid has been disbursed you may be placed on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) suspension.  When a student receives federal assistance to attend college, he or she is expected to complete at least two-thirds of the credit hours of the classes which were paid for using federal funds.  See Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?

After you apply for federal aid you may be offered either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, or a combination of both. The primary difference between the two is when the interest begins to accrue.

  • Subsidized Loans are awarded on the basis of financial need. Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans while the student is enrolled for at least 6 credit hours.
  • Unsubsidized Loans are awarded regardless of financial need. Interest begins accruing on Unsubsidized Loans at the time the loan is disbursed to the college.  Students receive a quarterly interest statement from the loan's servicing agency that allows the student to pay the interest accumulated during that period.  Payment of the interest at that time is not required, however, 30 days after the date of the statement the interest is added to the balance of the loan and also begins accruing interest. Students can realize significant long term savings by paying the quarterly interest charges.

The student financial aid office uses federal regulations to determine the amounts each student may borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid.

To learn more about the differences between Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, visit the Department of Education's Direct Loan comparison website.

Why am I considered not to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Students receiving Federal Student Aid (Grants, Loans, Federal Work Study) are required to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards mandated by the Department of Education.  

The full policy can be found at: “Satisfactory Academic Progress."   

How do I use the funds listed on my award letter to pay my fees? 

Financial aid funds, regardless of source, will be applied to tuition and fee charges no sooner than 10 days prior to the first day of the semester upon determination of eligibility for the funds.  You are responsible for making sure any remaining balance is paid in full by the fee payment deadline published each semester.  In the event your fees are not paid in full by the published deadline, you will be withdrawn from classes at no charge to you.

How do I use my financial aid to buy books at the bookstore?

Your financial aid will first be applied to your tuition and fees. If you have additional funding you may use up to $800 of that funding to purchase textbooks, course materials, and supplies in the Columbus State Bookstore.  To determine if you have funds available for purchasing books and supplies log in to your Cougar Web account and view the "Bookstore Charge Transactions" link.  You will be notified by e-mail sent to your CSCC student e-mail account when these funds become available to you.

When will I get the rest of my financial aid money refunded to me?

Financial aid funds will be available in the bookstore until approximately 4 weeks into the semester.  Once that period is over and your instructors have confirmed that you are attending and participating in your classes, any remaining financial aid funds will be disbursed to you in the form of a check or direct deposit.  Refunds are processed beginning the 5th week of the semester.  You will be notified by an e-mail sent to your CSCC student e-mail account when those funds are refunded to you. This link provides detailed  information on that process: www.cscc.edu/services/cashiersandstudentaccounting/disbursement.shtml.

What is verification and why was I selected?

Verification is a process mandated by the US Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information provided on the FAFSA via submission of specific documentation and forms by the selected student and/or parent. All requested documentation must be provided before a student's financial aid eligibility can be determined.

If you are selected for verification a request for specific documentation will be sent via email to your CSCC email account as well as be listed on Financial Aid Self Service on CougarWeb. Submit only the requested information. It is important that you submit the requested information as soon as possible.  Your application for financial aid will not be completed until information has been submitted and reviewed by the financial aid office.

Is it too late to file my application for federal aid, FAFSA? Is there a deadline for applying for federal aid?

You should complete and submit your FAFSA application as soon as possible.  Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA you can file after October 1 each year.  We encourage all students to apply as soon as possible as some resources are limited and may run out.  For students applying early notifications of awards will be typically available in January or February.  The FAFSA application will be valid until June 30th of the following year. 

How can I find out if my fees have been paid?

A link on your Cougar Web account called “Manage My Account” will allow you to see your account activity for the current term and past terms – including a detailed summary of your charges for tuition and fees.  You can view payments applied to your account and your overall balance.  If there is an outstanding balance on your student account that must be paid after the financial aid funds have been applied, you can also make a payment on this link.  To access the link, log in to your Cougar Web account.

What is the Federal School Code for Columbus State Community College?

In order for the U.S. Department of Education federal processor to release the FAFSA information to Columbus State Community College you must enter our Federal School Code (006867).  This will give them permission to release your FAFSA results to our office. 

Costs, Billing and Financial Aid

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is financial assistance from all sources that can be used to help pay for your educational expenses. The Financial Aid Office is responsible for administering federal aid such as grants (need-based aid that doesn't have to be paid back), work-study (a part-time job), and federal direct student loans (money you borrow and must pay back with interest when you leave school).

How much will school cost?

Columbus State charges a per credit hour rate each semester. The amount of total tuition and fees due each semester will be reflected on your CougarWeb account under “Manage My Account” upon registration. To assist students in estimating the costs associated with attendance at Columbus State we encourage you to review the Net Price Calculator

Please see the ‘Tuition and Fees’ page for specific information.

Does financial aid pay for audited classes?

No, financial aid does not pay for courses which do not award academic credit.

What if one of my classes is canceled?

A 100% refund of fees is given if a class is canceled.  Because of this, financial aid will be reduced accordingly.  In order to not risk a reduction in your financial aid disbursement and possibly owing a balance it is the student's responsibility to add classes that will bring you up to the minimum required credit hours.

How can I find out if my fees have been paid? 

A link on your Cougar Web account called “Manage My Account” will allow you to see your account activity for the current term and past terms – including a detailed summary of your charges for tuition and fees.  You can view payments applied to your account and your overall balance.  If there is an outstanding balance on your student account that must be paid after the financial aid funds have been applied, you can also make a payment on this link.  To access the link, log in to your Cougar Web account.

How do I use the funds listed on my award letter to pay my fees?

Financial aid funds, regardless of source, will be applied to tuition and fee charges no sooner than 10 days prior to the first day of the semester upon determination of eligibility for the funds.  You are responsible for making sure any remaining balance is paid in full by the fee payment deadline published each semester.  In the event your fees are not paid in full by the published deadline, you will be withdrawn from classes at no charge to you

Are there payment plans available?

Yes. Payment plans are offered through Columbus State Community College, click on Tuition Payment Options for more information.

To whom do I speak with about a question or problem with my bill?

The Cashiers and Student Accounting Office administers billing transactions and can address any concerns you may have regarding your student account. You can find contact information for Cashiers and Student Accounting office on their website.

What can I do if the financial aid I have been awarded is still not enough to pay for school? How do I get more financial aid?

We always award students with their maximum eligibility in federal aid based on availability of funding. However, because of federal loan limits, students may not have enough federal funds to cover all of their educational costs. If you are in need of additional funding beyond the federal aid you were awarded, you could consider a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan. Only the parents of dependent students may apply for a PLUS loan (add hyperlink to PLUS loan pages on website) to offset costs.

Application

How do I apply for federal student aid?

The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is the standardized application for Federal Student Aid and it is FREE to complete. Students (and parents – if you are classified as a dependent student) submit this application annually online. It can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is the U.S. Department of Education's official website for completion of the FAFSA and all services provided through the site are free.

Planning to apply for the 2017-18 Award Year?

If you are planning to apply for Federal Student Aid for the 2017-18 award year for attendance beginning Autumn Semester 2017 through Summer Semester 2018, you will be able to complete the FAFSA on October 1, 2016.  Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be using the prior year Federal tax return information.  For the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be required to use your filed 2015 Federal tax return information.

For further information see FAFSA Filing Changes.

Note:  In order for Columbus State Community College to be able to review your results from the Department of Education upon processing of your FAFSA, you must have already applied for admission to our college. Visit Admissions at Columbus State

What documents do I need to collect to complete the FAFSA?

The FAFSA asks for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, when you filed taxes or what tax form you used), you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA:

  • Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns (or Tax Return Transcripts) including IRS W-2 (or Wage and Income Transcripts) information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
    • IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ (or Tax Return Transcripts)
    • Foreign tax return and/or
    • Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received,  interest  income, and veterans non-education benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

For detailed information see "Filling Out the FAFSA."

What is the Federal School Code for Columbus State Community College?

In order for the U.S. Department of Education federal processor to release the FAFSA information to Columbus State Community College you must enter our Federal School Code (006867).  This will give them permission to release your FAFSA results to our office.

Should I apply for aid even if I probably will not qualify?

Yes. The application is free, and some sources of aid (Federal Unsubsidized Loans and Parent PLUS Loans) are available regardless of need. In the event you are offered student loans and you are not interested in receiving them you may decline them with no penalties.

How do I make a correction to my financial aid application?

If you need to make a correction to your financial aid application before you receive your award notification, you may do so on the FAFSA website. If you have already received your award notification or if your application has already been verified, contact the financial aid office to determine if the correction is appropriate.

Do I have to apply for aid every year? What is a renewal FAFSA?

To continue being evaluated for Federal Student Aid you must complete a new or renewal FAFSA each year. The application becomes available on October 1st of each year for the following financial aid year.

If you have applied for financial aid in the past year, you may be able to fill out a renewal FAFSA, rather than a new FAFSA. The renewal FAFSA will include some of last year's information. You can access the renewal FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Is it too late to file my application for federal aid, FAFSA? Is there a deadline for applying for federal aid?

You should complete and submit your FAFSA application as soon as possible after October 1 of the academic year prior to when you plan to attend college. We encourage all students to apply as soon as possible as some resources are limited and may run out. We will process your financial aid application as quickly as possible whenever we receive it.

Why am I still considered a "dependent" student on the FAFSA?

Federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family's responsibility to pay for your education to the full extent possible. Because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents' information must be assessed along with the student's, in order to get a full picture of the family's financial status. If you are a dependent student, it does not mean that your parents are required to pay anything toward your education, including their information is simply the method the Department of Education uses to evaluate everyone in a consistent manner.

Determining a student's dependency status is important in determining a student's eligibility for federal aid programs. Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. An applicant is considered to be a dependent student unless he or she can answer "Yes" to one of the questions in Section 3 of the FAFSA. If the student applicant answers "No" to all of the dependency status questions then he or she is considered to be a dependent student for federal student aid purposes and must provide parental information.

Please be aware that not living with your parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not make you an independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. Occasionally, unusual circumstances may exist that warrant a review of a student's dependency status. If you feel that you have a special circumstance that prevents you from including your parent's information on your application, contact the student financial aid office for more information.

What is verification and why was I selected?

Verification is a process mandated by the US Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information provided on the FAFSA via submission of specific documentation and forms by the selected student and/or parent. All requested documentation must be provided before a student's financial aid eligibility can be determined.

If you are selected for verification a request for specific documentation will be sent via email to your CSCC email account and be shown on Financial Aid Self Service on your CougarWeb account. Submit only the requested information. It is important that you submit the requested information as soon as possible.  Your application for financial aid will not be completed until information has been submitted and reviewed by the financial aid office.

If I plan to get married when should I file my FAFSA?

The FAFSA is a "snap shot" of your status on the day you submit it. Therefore, you should report your marital status as of the day you submit the FAFSA. If you marry after filing the FAFSA you will have the opportunity to update your marital status later. However, you will not be able to make this change by submitting a correction online to FAFSA. If your marital status needs to be updated after filing the FAFSA contact the Financial Aid Office for further guidance.

Does the FAFSA consider me an independent student if I am expecting a child during the academic year for which I will receive financial aid?

Yes. You are considered an independent if your unborn child will be born during the academic year and your household will provide more than half of the child's support from the projected date of birth through the end of the academic year. If you are expecting a child when you fill out your FAFSA you should answer yes to the applicable dependency status question and include the unborn child in your household size. If you have already filed a FAFSA and did not include an unborn child on your application, you should contact the Student Financial Aid Office for further guidance on how to process an update to your FAFSA. In either situation you will most likely be required to provide documentation from a physician regarding the expected child to our office.

What if I have unusual family circumstances?

Typically these types of circumstances fall into two categories -  financial and adverse home situations. 

  • Financial: Special financial circumstances are those, which significantly affect the families' ability to pay for college. Examples: Loss of employment, cessation child support payments, extraordinary medical expenses, bankruptcy.
  • Adverse Home Conditions: A student from a difficult background, complete estrangement from or endangered by his or her family, may qualify as an "independent" student. A student with this circumstance will need to work with the Financial Aid Office in applying for a 'dependency override'. If the college approves an override, no parent information will be required for the FAFSA.

Financial Aid Offices have the authority to exercise discretion and recognize both the financial and adverse home conditions described above. This process is called "Professional Judgment". Each college has its own internal policies and procedures for professional judgment. Only the Financial Aid Office can make changes; the United States Department of Education cannot authorize changes in the FAFSA data.

The actual amount and type of extra financial aid a student might receive cannot be determined until the student goes through the process.

Each student is considered on a case-by-case basis; colleges have their own internal policies and procedures. At Columbus State, special circumstance appeals are processed by the Financial Aid advising staff. 

Information related to these processes is available at Student Central, located in the Upper Level of Madison Hall on the Columbus Campus or at Student Services in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus.

FAFSA and Award Processing

What happens after I submit my application for federal student aid?

After receiving your completed application, the FAFSA processor will analyze your information and calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The results of your application will be sent Columbus State Community College and to you in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR) by mail or email (if you provided an email address) within 3-5 business days. This report details the information that you provided and informs you of any corrections that are needed to complete the application. Carefully review the SAR to make sure that all the information is accurate, as Columbus State will receive the same information.

NOTE: In order for Columbus State Community College to be able to view the results of your FAFSA, you must have completed an application for admission to our college. Please see Admissions.

How is my financial need calculated?

The Department of Education uses the financial and household information you supplied on the FAFSA to determine the amount of monies your household can provide toward your educational costs on a per academic year basis. This information is calculated using a formula established by law. The information is used to create your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number used in determining your eligibility for Federal Student Aid.

The EFC will appear on your Student Aid Report (SAR) you receive from the Department of Education after you file your FAFSA. The SAR summarizes all the information you provided on your FAFSA. It’s important to review this information carefully. In the event you see an error, you may be able to make the corrections online with your PIN. For questions on how to make corrections, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

This information is also released to the schools listed on the FAFSA. ** Once the school receives this information, they can begin the process of determining which federal student aid programs you are eligible to receive.

The basic calculation for determining your financial need is as follows:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

The EFC calculated will NOT change based on the cost of the school you are planning on attending. The part of the above formula which will change is the Cost of Attendance.

**In order for Columbus State Community College to be able to view the results of your FAFSA, you must have completed an application for admission to our college. Please see Admissions.

What happens after CSCC receives my FAFSA?

Once your FAFSA is received it will be processed for a financial aid award or we may request additional information or documentation. It is important to check your CougarWeb account (Financial Aid Self Service) and check your CSCC email for updates. Once your financial aid file is complete, you will receive notification that your awards are viewable on CougarWeb.

What is verification and why was I selected?

Verification is a process mandated by the US Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information provided on the FAFSA via submission of specific documentation and forms by the selected student and/or parent. All requested documentation must be provided before a student's financial aid eligibility can be determined.

If you are selected for verification a request for specific documentation will be sent via email to your CSCC email account and be available on Financial Aid Self Service on your CougarWeb account. Submit only the requested information. It is important that you submit the requested information as soon as possible.  Your application for financial aid will not be completed until information has been submitted and reviewed by the financial aid office.

What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and how does it affect financial aid?

The EFC, derived from information on the FAFSA, represents the amount that the federal government expects a student's family should be able to pay towards the student's education. The EFC is an indicator of your family's financial strength to pay for educational expenses and is not the amount of money that your family must provide. Rather the EFC is a tool, which, when subtracted from the Cost of Attendance, determines a student's need and therefore the type of aid for which a student is eligible.

What is the Cost of Attendance?

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is a student's estimated budget, including direct and indirect costs. The COA includes tuition and fees; room and board; allowances for books and supplies; transportation; loan fees; and miscellaneous/personal expenses. Aid cannot be awarded above a student's cost of attendance, but if you have an unusual expense that might affect your COA you may contact our office to determine if an increase to your budget is appropriate.

How is the cost of attendance (COA) determined?

The COA is based on a set of figures determined each year by the institution. The figures included in the calculation of the COA include tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees and if applicable, dependent care. It may also include miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer. Costs related to a disability also are covered.

What is financial need?

Financial need is the difference between your cost of attendance (COA), as determined by our office, and your expected family contribution (EFC). Many federal student aid programs require applicants to demonstrate a financial need to be considered eligible for that program. The amount of your financial aid award will be affected by whether you are a full time or part time student and whether you attend school for a full academic year or less.

If you believe that you have unusual circumstances that should be taken into account in determining your financial need, contact the Financial Aid office. Unusual circumstances might include extremely high medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance or a significant change in income from one year to the next.

How do I know how much financial aid I will receive?

Once Columbus State receives the results of the FAFSA, which includes your EFC, the Financial Aid office will determine if they have all your necessary paperwork on file before moving into the awarding phase. If all your documents have been received and reviewed and your file is complete, then you will be awarded. The amount of financial aid you receive will depend on the following:

  • Your financial need
  • Your cost of attendance (COA)
  • Your enrollment status (full-time, half time, etc.).

If it is determined you are eligible for federal student aid, the school will post your Award Letter on your CougarWeb account under Financial Aid Self Service. This award letter will list the types and amounts of financial aid you are eligible to receive from federal, state and institutional resources for the academic year. It’s important to read the letter carefully. If you want to accept and/or reduce the Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized student loans you can do this on CougarWeb under Financial Aid Self Service. You do not need to accept all the aid or borrow the full amount of any loans listed on the award letter. 

What is an additional resource and how do I report it or an outside scholarship?

Generally, scholarships, or any other types of funding applied to your student account to pay for tuition or fees are considered to be additional resources. Any additional resource that is available to you is taken into consideration when calculating your aid eligibility. If you should receive an additional resource after you have been awarded you should report it to our office immediately. According to federal regulations the Financial Aid Office is required to adjust your award if changes in your eligibility occur due receipt of an additional resource.

I signed a promissory note last year. Why don't I have to sign one this year?

The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a binding legal document that you must sign when you get a federal student loan. The MPN can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic year (up to 10 years). Since it lists the terms and conditions under which you agree to repay the loan and explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, it is important to read it carefully before signing and to save a copy for your records.

Can I reject all or part of my loan? Can my direct loan be adjusted or cancelled?

Yes. If you have applied for aid with a FAFSA then you may receive a loan offer. However, you are not required to accept the full amount of the offer. You can borrow less than what is offered or you can decline the full offer. You should only borrow what you need, therefore if you accept a loan but determine that you do not need the full amount log into your CougarWeb account and see Financial Aid Self Sercive to make an adjustment or to cancel your loan. If your loan has already disbursed to your student account the Financial Aid office can process any requested adjustment within 30 days at which point you may return the funds to the Department of Education. 

How do I take out the Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan on my award letter?

Once your Financial Aid Award Letter is available on your Financial Aid Self Service account on CougarWeb, you must first decide if you want to accept all of the loan monies you have been awarded. Remember these monies are a loan that will need to be repaid in the future. Only take out the amount that you will need to cover your expenses.

In the event you wish to make changes to your loan amounts you may complete the request on Financial Aid Self Service on your CougarWeb account.

To activate your Direct Loans – subsidized and unsubsidized, follow the instructions on Financial Aid Self Service in CougarWeb. If you are a first-time loan borrower you will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and also complete Loan Entrance Counseling. (Any student who has never borrowed a Federal Direct Loan is considered a first- time borrower.) You may complete both of these at: www.studentloans.gov. Additionally, all first time borrowers must wait 30 days after the semester begins to receive their loan funds. (First time loan borrowers will receive notification of eligibility for Temporary Funding to assist with tuition, mandatory fees and book/supply expenses. Complete the Temporary Funding as indicated in the email notification.)

Can I transfer my financial aid to another school?

If you transfer from CSCC to another institution within an academic year, you must check with your new school's financial aid office about how you will receive your aid. Due to availability and other factors such as cost, you may not be able to receive the same amounts and types of aid. However, you will not have to complete a new FAFSA again, but you would have to send your information to your other school by adding their school code to your application.

I am transferring from another school to Columbus State, how do I have my financial aid transferred?

Please see "Transferring Financial Aid" for details.

Federal Aid Programs

What types of federal aid programs are available?

Your financial aid package may include funds from any of the following major Federal Student Aid programs:

  • Federal Pell Grants – are available to undergraduate students only. Grants do not have to be repaid. Pell Grant awards are based on the federally calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • Federal Direct Loans – are student loans that must be repaid. First-year dependent undergraduates are eligible for a subsidized loan up to $3,500 and an additional unsubsidized amount of up to $2,000 for a total of up to $5,500. A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you're in school, for the first six months after you leave school, and during any periods when your payments are deferred (postponed). For an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Annual maximum loan amounts increase for subsequent years of study.
  • Direct PLUS loans - are loans made to parents of dependent undergraduate students. All students must complete a FAFSA for our office to determine their Direct Loan eligibility before a PLUS loan can be processed on the account. The amount of the PLUS award is the difference in the Cost of Attendance and any other financial aid. Eligibility for the PLUS is based on credit, however, dependent undergraduate students whose parent is unable to obtain a PLUS loan may borrow additional unsubsidized loans at the higher loan limits otherwise available only to independent undergraduates.

Other aid programs that are awarded based on need and availability:

  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants – are grants available for undergraduates only. The school receives an amount from the Department of Education and once those funds are exhausted then no additional students can be awarded.
  • Federal Work Study – provides jobs to students allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.

What is the difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan?

After you apply for federal aid you may be offered either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, or a combination of both. The primary difference between the two is when the interest begins to accrue.

  • Subsidized Loans are awarded on the basis of financial need. Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans while the student is enrolled for at least 6 credit hours.
  • Unsubsidized Loans are awarded regardless of financial need. Interest begins accruing on Unsubsidized Loans at the time the loan is disbursed to the college.  Students receive a quarterly interest statement from the loan's servicing agency that allows the student to pay the interest accumulated during that period.  Payment of the interest at that time is not required, however, 30 days after the date of the statement the interest is added to the balance of the loan and also begins accruing interest. Students can realize significant long term savings by paying the quarterly interest charges.

The student financial aid office uses federal regulations to determine the amounts each student may borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid.

To learn more about the differences between Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, visit the Department of Education's Direct Loan comparison website.

What is the interest rate on my Federal Direct Loan?

Interest rates on federal student loans are determined by Congress. Visit the Federal Student Aid website for the most recently published interest and fee rates.

Are there any fees for federal student loans?

Yes. Federal student loans have origination fees that are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. Check on the current loan fees for federal student loans at studentloans.gov.

Can my loans be forgiven, canceled or discharged?

In certain situations you can have your federal student loan forgiven, canceled or discharged. To find out if you qualify due to your job, disability, or other circumstances you must contact your loan servicer. You can view your loan information including the types of loans you have and your loan servicer at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

What is Exit Counseling and why do I need to complete it?

A student must complete exit counseling when they exit the college, drop to less than half time enrollment status or graduate.  The purpose of the Exit Counseling is to explain all options you have concerning the repayment of your student loan(s).  You may complete the Exit Counseling requirement online at www.studentloans.gov.  You will need your Department of Education FSA Id to access your exit counseling information.

Parents

Where may I locate additional resources of information?

For information on any federal student financial aid programs, you may call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at: 1.800-4FED-AID or 1-800-433-3243. You may also find general information about federal student aid by going to studentaid.ed.gov.

Where can I go to get assistance if I have questions while completing the FAFSA?

On the home page, fafsa.ed.gov, go to the Contact Us link at the top of the page. This page lists all of the available options for getting additional assistance. You can also get live help through a secure online chat session with one of federal aid's customer service representatives, and by phone at 1-800-433-3243.

What is the Federal School Code for Columbus State Community College?

In order for the U.S. Department of Education federal processor to release the FAFSA information to Columbus State Community College you must enter our Federal School Code (006867).  This will give them permission to release your FAFSA results to our office.

Why does the Department of Education ask for income information from the year before the academic year?

The law requires that the financial information from the previous tax year be provided on the FAFSA. This tax year information is called the base year. The base year information is considered the most accurate source of information for projecting on a reasonable basis the family's financial strength for the upcoming academic year.

What should I do if my family has unusual circumstances that are not mentioned in the application?

If your family has unusual circumstances (such as a loss of employment, loss of benefits, death or divorce), complete the FAFSA to the extent that you can and submit it for processing as instructed. Once the FAFSA has been submitted you may contact the Financial Aid office to set up an appointment with an advisor to discuss your situation. If your family's circumstances have changed from the previous tax year, our office may decide on a case-by-case basis to adjust data elements on the FAFSA that were used to calculate the EFC.

I'll be filing a tax return this year but I probably will not get around to it until April. How should I answer the parental financial questions? Should I wait to fill out the FAFSA until after I have filed my tax return?

If you are planning to apply for Federal Student Aid for the 2017-18 award year for attendance beginning Autumn Semester 2017 through Summer Semester 2018, you will be able to complete the FAFSA on October 1, 2016.  Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be using the prior year Federal tax return information.  For the 2017-18 FAFSA you will be required to use your filed 2015 Federal tax return information.

For further information see FAFSA Filing Changes.

Ideally you should complete a FAFSA after you have completed your tax return, however, you may file using estimated numbers. Keep in mind that if you submit your application before you complete a tax return you may need to make corrections later if your income or tax information is not estimated accurately.   

Who is considered a parent?

For FAFSA purposes, the student needs to provide information about their legal parent(s) on the application. A legal parent is the biological or adoptive parent, or the parent as determined by the state (for example, if the parent is listed on your birth certificate). If the student has a stepparent, generally their information must also be provided.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If your legal parents (your biological and/or adoptive parents, or parents as determined by the state—e.g., a parent listed on your birth certificate) are married to each other, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
  • If your legal parents are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions about both of them, regardless of whether your parents are of the same or opposite sex.
  • If your legal parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent

For a more detailed explanation of who is considered a parent for FAFSA purposes, please visit ‘Reporting Parent Information.”

I am divorced; whose information does my student use on the FAFSA?

The information of the parent with whom the student has lived with the most during the past 12 months preceding the date the FAFSA is completed should be the only parent on the application. It does not matter which parent claims the student as a dependent for tax purposes. If the student did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, then the parental information for whom the student received the most financial support from during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom the student received the most support the last time support was given should be on the application.

I am divorced from my student's biological parent, however I am now remarried. Should I give my student's stepparents information on the FAFSA?

If you are the parent that is required to report financial information on the FAFSA and you are remarried, then the stepparent's information must be included on the application or that student will not be considered for Federal Student Aid. If you believe that your situation is unique or unusual other than the stepparent's simple refusal to provide the requested information, you should contact our office to discuss the matter further.

How does a family decide who should be counted in the household size?

Anyone in the immediate family who receives more than 50% support from a dependent student's parents or an independent student and spouse may be counted in the household size. For example, a sibling who is over 24 but still receives the majority of his/her support from the parents can be included. Siblings who are dependent (as defined by FAFSA) as of the date the application is completed are also included, regardless of whether they receive more than 50% of their support from the parents. Any other person who resides in the household and receives more than 50% support from the parents may also be counted, as long as they will continue to reside within the parent's household and the support is expected to continue through the academic year. An unborn child who will be born during the academic year may also be counted in the household size if the parents, or independent student and spouse, will provide more than half of the child's support through the end of the year.

NOTE: Household size and tax exemptions are not necessarily the same. Exemptions look at the previous year or tax year and household size refers to the school year for which the student is applying for aid.

When does interest on a PLUS Loan begin to accrue?

Because a PLUS Loan is a type of Unsubsidized Loan, interest on a PLUS Loan starts to accrue the day the loan is disbursed to the college. Even though the account may not be in repayment, interest is still accruing.

Receipt and Disbursement of Aid

How long will it take to get an award letter after I fill out my FAFSA?

This really depends on when you fill out the FAFSA. Awarding typically begins in April for Autumn semester and continues throughout the year. For planning purposes, we recommend that you plan for a minimum of four weeks from submission of the FAFSA to receipt of an award notification from our office.

Will I need to fill out forms in addition to the FAFSA to receive a financial aid award?

The Financial Aid Office will inform you of any documentation you need to submit to determine your aid eligibility. Students should check their CSCC email account for requests for additional documentation. It is important that you only submit the documents that the Financial Aid Office is requesting from you.

Can I have my Spring award applied to my Autumn account?

No. Federal aid awards are based on your expected attendance for the full academic year. Therefore, if you are only enrolled for one semester or intend only to attend one semester, you are only eligible for a one semester award amount or half of an academic year's eligibility.

NOTE: One exception applies to students graduating who will complete their academic program of study in the fall semester. These students may be eligible to receive a prorated portion of their Direct loan funding for the Autumn semester. If you are interested and qualify for proration due to graduation, contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

How will my financial aid funds be disbursed to me?

Eligible financial aid students (total financial aid disbursement minus tuition/fees) will have a credit up to $800.00 at the Columbus State Bookstore, designated solely for the purchase of required textbooks and course materials (exclusions apply).

The student's remaining financial aid credit balance (equal to the student's total financial aid disbursement minus tuition/fees, and minus the amount used at the Columbus State Bookstore) will be disbursed in the form of a check or direct deposit. Refunds will be processed beginning the fifth or sixth week of the semester, after course attendance and participation is verified. Funds for 30-day delay loans are expected at the College thirty (30) days into the semester and will be disbursed to eligible students via direct deposit or check within 14 days of the credit balance posting on the student's account. For direct deposit refunds, allow 1-2 business days for bank processing. For check refunds, allow up to 14 days for processing plus standard U.S. Postal mail delivery time.

What is a "Freeze Date" and how does it affect my financial aid disbursement?

Columbus State uses a "freeze date" each semester to determine a student's enrollment status for disbursing financial aid.  Financial aid will only pay for courses added before the freeze date for a class section.  The financial aid freeze date is determined individually for each class scheduled.  If a student adds or drops classes before the freeze date, the student's financial aid will be recalculated and adjusted accordingly.  A student may owe funds back to the financial aid programs as a result of these changes.

If a student makes schedule changes after the freeze date their Pell Grant disbursement will not adjusted; however, Direct Loan disbursements may be affected it the student's enrollment status has dropped below 6 credit hours.

How can I find out if my fees have been paid? 

A link on your Cougar Web account called “Manage My Account” will allow you to see your account activity for the current term and past terms – including a detailed summary of your charges for tuition and fees.  You can view payments applied to your account and your overall balance.  If there is an outstanding balance on your student account that must be paid after the financial aid funds have been applied, you can also make a payment on this link.  To access the link, log in to your Cougar Web account.

I need to buy books so how do I use my financial aid money at the Columbus State Bookstore?

Eligible financial aid recipients will have a credit, up to $800.00, designated solely for the purchase of textbooks and course materials. The credit can be used for in-store purchases of textbooks, reference books, school supplies, technology products, backpacks and totes, academically required apparel, COTA Bus Passes (Available in Customer Care only), and other required supplies related to your scheduled courses (yoga, lab, hospitality, art, and drafting). Only the student may make purchases using their Financial Aid funds. A valid photo ID (Columbus State Cougar ID, driver's license, state ID, or military ID) along with their Cougar ID number is required. Funds not used will be disbursed to students if they remain eligible for their financial aid.

To view the amount you have available to you for purchase of books and supplies, log in to your Cougar Web account and view the “Bookstore Charge Transactions” link.  An email notification will also be sent to your CSCC email account when these funds become available at the bookstore.

If I chose not to purchase my books through the Columbus State Bookstore, will I be reimbursed from my financial aid?

You are not required to use the Columbus State Bookstore to purchase your books and course materials for your class. If you chose to purchase books somewhere other than the Columbus State Bookstore, you will receive the full amount of your financial aid credit via check or direct deposit. Refunds are released after course attendance and participation is verified, approximately the fifth or sixth week of the semester.

How will I know when my book allowance or financial aid refund has been sent?

An email notification will be sent at the time the funds become available at the Columbus State Bookstore and also when a financial aid direct deposit or check refund has been processed. Please check your CSCC student email account for email notifications. To view your account, sign in to CougarWeb under "Financial Information" and click on "Manage My Account". Account information is not released over the telephone.

When will I get the rest of my financial aid money refunded to me? 

The credit will be available at the Bookstore until approximately four weeks into the semester.  Once the bookstore purchasing window closes, your remaining financial aid credit balance (equal to the student’s total financial aid disbursement minus tuition/fees and minus the amount used at the CSCC Bookstore) will be disbursed to you in the form of a check or direct deposit.   Refunds will be processed beginning the fifth or sixth week of the semester, after course attendance and participation is verified. An email notification will be sent to your CSCC email account when these funds have been issued to you.   Please see the following link for each semester’s detailed information:  www.cscc.edu/services/cashiersandstudentaccounting/disbursement.shtml

How do I sign up for direct deposit?

NOTE: Currently, only financial aid refunds may be issued direct deposit.

Step 1: Go to CougarWeb (https://cougarweb.cscc.edu) and log in

Step 2: Click on the "Bank Information (U.S.)" link

Step 3: Enter your bank account information on the Bank Information (U.S.) screen

Step 4: Check the box to agree to the terms and conditions and then click "Submit"

You will be taken to a confirmation page and we will send an email to your CSCC student email account confirming the change.

If you have old bank account information that needs removed, check the "Delete" box and click "Submit" before entering any new bank account information.

Please note: CougarWeb and/or confirmation emails will only display the last 4 digits of the account number we have on file.

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid

Am I eligible to receive federal aid?

To apply for federal aid you must meet general eligibility requirements. A list of eligibility criteria is available on the Federal Student Aid website.  Once you become a recipient you are responsible for continuing to meet basic eligibility criteria, meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards, and completing the FAFSA every year.

How much federal student aid is available?

Eligibility for aid depends upon your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), grade level, number of credits enrolled, dependency status, availability, and the Cost of Attendance (COA).

When your FAFSA information is reviewed a financial aid award offer is constructed for you. Your award will include the maximum amount of Federal Student Aid you may be eligible for at that time. If your FAFSA information or other educational information changes, your aid eligibility may also be adjusted.

Program

Recipients

 Amount

Federal Pell Grant

Students working on their first undergraduate degree with an EFC in qualifying range. Pays out based on enrollment hours per semester.

Maximum of $5,815 (2016-17)

Federal SEOG (Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant)

Students with high financial need working on their first undergraduate degree.

Maximum of $1,000

Federal Direct  Student Loan

Eligible undergraduate students.

Amount determined by FAFSA data and student's grade level

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Eligible undergraduate students – part time job to earn funds to help meet expenses

Maximum of $3,000

Federal Direct PLUS Loan

Eligible parents of dependent undergraduate students. A credit check is required.

Maximum amount is cost of attendance minus any other aid. FAFSA is required.

Keep in mind that award amounts vary and depend upon your financial need (as determined by the federal government). Direct Loan funding eligibility is based on your grade level and dependency status and are subjected to yearly loan limits and aggregate lifetime loan limits.

Yearly loan limits:

Dependent

Classification

Independent

$5,500

First year

(0-30 hours earned)

$9,500  

$6,500

Second year

(greater than 30 hours earned)

$10,500

Aggregate loan limits:

  • As a dependent undergraduate student you may borrow up to $31,000 in direct loans
  • As an independent undergraduate student you may borrow up to $57,500 in direct loans 

If I am in default on an educational loan, can I still receive financial aid?

No. Students who are currently in default on educational loans are not eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. The Financial Aid Office recommends that you contact your lender and attempt to make a satisfactory payment arrangement with them.

Once your default status is resolved, you must provide a letter from your loan servicer(s) stating that the default status has been cleared and that you are again eligible to receive Federal Student Aid.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility, contact Student Central in the Upper Level of Madison Hall on the Columbus Campus or Student Services in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus.

Why am I considered not to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Students receiving Federal Student Aid (Grants, Loans, Federal Work Study) are required to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards mandated by the Department of Education.  

To learn more see “Satisfactory Academic Progress." 

How does withdrawing from a class affect my federal aid eligibility?

Withdrawing from a class or all classes at any point after the drop/add period will negatively affect a student's completion rate or pace towards degree completion and future financial aid eligibility. If you withdraw from one or all of your classes, you may be required to return some of your financial aid. You can learn more at "Satisfactory Academic Progress." 

What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw- or are reported as not attending by my instructors – from ALL my classes?

Financial Aid students who completely withdraw (or are reported as not attending by instructors) from ALL classes during a given term may be subject to repayment of federal funds to the U.S. Department of Education.  This requirement is called the “Return of Unearned Title IV Funds Policy."  The return of these funds may create a balance owed to the college. 

The policy states that a student must attend through the 60% point of the term in order to earn their federal financial aid.  Students are issued financial aid at the beginning of the semester in “good faith,” meaning that the student will follow through by attending and completing the classes that were paid through financial aid. 

The U. S. Department of Education requires that unearned Title IV calculations be based on the number of calendar days the student actually attended the course divided by the total number of calendar days in the semester.

Is there aid available for summer semester?

The availability of summer aid is dependent upon how much aid you used during the school year. Any portion of your yearly eligibility that was not utilized during the autumn and spring semester may be awarded in the summer semester. If your eligibility for aid changes due to progression in grade level, you should contact Student Central, Upper Level of Madison Hall on the Columbus Campus or Student Services in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus to review your account. Students must enroll for at least 6 credit hours to be considered half-time for loan eligibility during the summer.

Students who know at the time of receipt of their award letter that they are planning on attending summer semester may request some of their federal student aid be moved to cover summer semester. See the "Summer Financial Aid" link for information.

Can I be ruled ineligible for aid because of a drug offense?

Possibly. If you have previously received federal student aid, you may not be eligible to receive additional federal aid if while you were enrolled and receiving federal student aid you had a drug offense for selling or possessing illegal drugs and that offense led to a conviction under federal or state law. If you are concerned about your eligibility because of a drug offense, you should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 for assistance or www.studentaid.ed.gov.

Are there regulations or limitations on repeating courses and receipt of financial aid?

Yes. Federal regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.

Students may only receive federal financial aid funding for one repeat of a previously passed course.  For this purpose, passed means any grade higher than an “E,” regardless of any program policy requir­ing a higher grade to have been considered to have passed the course.  All courses attempted at CSCC are included in this requirement including courses previously attempted and paid with non-federal financial aid funds.

A student may receive funding multiple times for repeatedly failing the same course (normal Satisfactory Academic Progress policy still applies to such cases), and if a student withdraws be­fore completing the course that he or she is being paid Federal Student Aid funds for re­taking, then that is not counted as his or her one allowed retake for that course. However, if a student passed a class once then is repaid for retaking it and fails the second time, that failure counts as their paid retake, and the student may not be paid for retaking the class a third time. 

Examples of repeated coursework that may, or may not, count for financial aid eligibility: 

Allowable: Repeated coursework may be included if the student received an unsatisfactory or failing grade. There is no limit on the number of attempts allowable if the student does not receive a passing grade. 

Allowable: Student is enrolled in 15 credit hours which include 3 credit hours repeating a previously passed course. Because the student is enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits which are not repeats, the student's financial aid eligibility is not impacted by the repeat. 

Not permissible: Student receives a D in a course and decides to repeat the course to improve his/her GPA. The student may repeat this passed course one time, but if the student wants to repeat it a second time, the second repeat would not count for financial aid eligibility. 

In this example, the student is enrolled in 12 credits, including the 3 credit second repeat, so only 9 credits will count for financial aid eligibility. 

All repeated courses do affect financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) calculations. A repeated course along with the original attempt must be counted as attempted credits.  See Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) link for further information.

Does living on or off campus or being an in-state or out-of-state resident affect my financial aid eligibility?

How much financial aid you receive depends on a number of factors: whether you are classified as an in-state resident or an out-of-state resident will directly affect your cost of attendance — which may affect your total amount of financial aid eligibility.

My grade level is going to change; will I be eligible for more aid?

You may be eligible for more Federal Subsidized or Unsubsidized Direct loans. Once your semester grades have been posted and are viewable on your CougarWeb account if your grade level has increased from a first year level to a second year level (greater than 30 credit hours earned), you may have additional loan eligibility. This will depend on your Cost of Attendance and the amount of your initial financial aid award.

If you would like your eligibility for a loan increase to be reviewed, contact Student Central, Upper Level of Madison Hall on the Columbus Campus or Student Services in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus. The increase could affect your loan eligibility for the upcoming summer if you plan on attending and receiving federal loans.