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Parents play a role in the financial aid process

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

The first step is to understand the cost of attendance. Once you estimate the total, you can begin helping your child piece together scholarships, grants and, if needed, loans.

You can review the cost of attendance. This includes tuition, books, supplies, housing and meals. You may also want to consider how much your child will travel to estimate transportation costs—weekend visits home can add up if you do not live nearby. 

Funding options

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

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

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

Once you complete the FAFSA, Columbia College will package federal Stafford Loans. 

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

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

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

Parent forms 

We have parent forms, worksheets and documents available for  your convenience.
You may also download a parent checklist.

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