Eligibility for Federal Aid

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To Be Considered Eligible  |  CitizenshipSocial Security Number  |  Selective Service  |  Default Status  |  Satisfactory Academic Progress  |  Drug Conviction

To Be Considered Eligible For Federal Aid

To be considered for federal financial aid, you must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen admitted as at least a half-time student to a degree program.

If you are taking courses but are not yet admitted into a degree program, then you do not qualify for federal or state aid.


►  Federal aid recipients must meet Federal Eligibility Requirements (click or tap the graphic at left)


►  To apply for federal funds, you must also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and all forms required by your individual school.


►  Loan borrowers must complete a Loan Entrance Interview.


►  In addition, to preserve your aid eligibility, you must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.


It is your responsibility to supply accurate and complete information on the FAFSA and to notify your financial aid office immediately of any changes in your enrollment plans, housing status, or financial situation, including information about any institutional or outside scholarships you will be receiving.

Determination of your financial need may be based upon the number of courses for which you register. If you enroll in fewer courses than you initially reported, your financial aid may be reduced or eliminated.

University-administered federal awards are not automatically renewed each year. Continuing students must submit a Renewal FAFSA each year by their financial aid office's deadline. Renewal depends on the annual re-evaluation of your need, the availability of funds, and satisfactory progress toward the completion of your degree requirements.

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Full Conditions for Federal Aid Eligibility

Below are the full eligibility conditions required for federal aid.




In order to be eligible for federal student aid the student must a U.S. citizen or national or one of the following eligible non-citizens:

  • A U.S. permanent resident
  • A citizen of one of the Freely Associated States (i.e. the Federated States of Micronesia and the republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands)
  • A refugee
  • Granted Asylum
  • A parolee
  • A Cuban-Haitian Entrant, status pending
  • A conditional entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980).

The student is ineligible for federal student aid if they:

  • Warrant a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence I-171 or I-464
  • Have an F1 or F2 visa
  • Have a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa

Acceptable documentation to verify the student’s citizenship is as follows:

  • A copy of the student’s birth certificate showing that the student was born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swain’s Island, or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • U.S. passport current or expired
  • A certificate of citizenship from INS (N-560 or N-561) which has the certificate number and date of issue.
  • A certificate of Naturalization from INS (N-550 or N-570) which must indicate date and certification number.
  • A copy of the following State Department documents:
    • FS-240 Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the U.S.
    • FS-545 Certificate of Birth-Foreign Service
    • DS-1350 Certificate of Birth

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In order to be eligible for federal and state aid, the student must provide a valid Social Security Number (SSN).

The federal processor of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) verifies that the submitted student’s SSN is correct and that it corresponds to the given student’s name and birth date. If the SSN does not match with the Social Security Administration, (i.e., the number is not found in their database) the FAFSA will be rejected:

  • When the SSN has been reported incorrectly on the FAFSA, the student must submit a copy of his or her Social Security card to his or her financial aid office.
  • If the student’s name and SSN match but the date of birth differs, the student must make a correction on the Student Aid Report (SAR).
  • If the SSN exists in the database but there is a discrepancy regarding the student’s name, the student must make a correction on the SAR.

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Most male students from ages 18 through 25—including permanent residents and other eligible non-citizens—are required to register with the Selective Service system. Anyone required to register must have done so in order to receive federal financial aid.

The student is exempt if:

  • She is female.
  • He is male and currently in the armed services and on active duty (this exception does not apply to members of the Reserves and National Guard who are not on active duty).
  • He is male and not yet 18 at the time he completes his FAFSA.
  • He is male and born before 1960.
  • He or she is a citizen of Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau.

There are certain less common situations in which the registration requirement is waived. Registration is not required for students who are:

  • Unable to register due to being hospitalized, incarcerated, or institutionalized.
  • Enrolled in any officer procurement program at The Citadel, North Georgia College, Norwich University, or Virginia Military Institute.
  • Commissioned Public Health Service officers on active duty or members of the Reserve of the Public Health Service.
  • Commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

More information is available on the Selective Service website.

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Students who are in default on a federal educational loan are ineligible for Federal student aid funds but can take the following actions to have their eligibility reinstated:


Satisfactory repayment arrangements

A borrower may repay the defaulted loan in full or make satisfactory repayment arrangements, i.e. six consecutive, voluntary, on time, full monthly payments that are reasonable and affordable given the borrower’s financial situation).


Loan rehabilitation

After the student makes more payments, the loan may be rehabilitated, that is, it will not be in default anymore, and the student will have all the normal loan benefits, such as deferments. A loan will not be rehabilitated until the borrower makes 12 consecutive, full, voluntary payments on time.

If you are unsure which loan is in default, your financial aid officer can assist you in identifying the loan.

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Federal regulations (CFR 668.34) require Columbia University to establish, publish, and apply standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Federal Title IV financial aid eligibility. The purpose of measuring and enforcing these standards is to ensure financial aid recipients’ progress towards degree completion using both qualitative and quantitative methods in accordance with federal regulations. To be eligible for financial aid (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct/PLUS loan), students must meet or exceed these standards. For more information, please see the central SAP policy.

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Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility. When you complete the FAFSA form, you will be asked whether you had a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid. If the answer is yes, you will be provided a worksheet. Please do answer the questions on the worksheet; however, your answers won’t affect your federal student aid eligibility.

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