Loan FAQs


1.  I am a U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident. What types of aid do I qualify for?

You may be qualified for a Federal Stafford Loan (unsubsidized), a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan, Federal Work-Study, and/or a private loan. As long are you are enrolled half-time or greater in a degree granting program and making Satisfactory Academic Progress, you are generally guaranteed a Stafford Loan up to $20,500.00 for an academic year. The standard allocation for Work-study is $3000.00 per academic year and based on your financial need. The Graduate Plus loan is limited to your official cost of attendance and is contingent on a credit review executed by the Department of Education's loan processor. This loan is intended to supplement the Stafford Loan and Work-study up to the Cost of Attendance for you program. If you are a veteran or the spouse or child of a veteran, you may be eligible for education benefits offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  A full description of federal and private loans as well as veterans benefits can be found here.

2.  I’m an international student and need a loan.  What do I do?

As an international student, you are not eligible for U.S. federal loans.  You may be eligible for a private loan with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident cosigner.

3.  How do I apply for loans?

4.  Which lender should I choose?

Columbia University provides federal student loan funding through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Student loan borrowers will acquire loan proceeds from the Department of Education. Private lenders no longer provide student federal loan financing. Student Financial Services provides a list of suggested lenders for those interested in non-federal educational loans (i.e., private loans).  Please read the disclosure information on these pages carefully. For the Direct Loan program, you will need to provide a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for the Stafford loan(s) and a Promissory Note for the Direct Graduate Plus loan. Additionally, Entrance Counseling is also required for all Direct Federal loan borrowers. These requirements can be fulfilled online at Master Promissory Notes can be completed online via SSOL.

5.  Has Columbia received my FAFSA?

You may log into Student Services Online and determine if GSAS has received your FAFSA.  This information can be found under "Document Tracking". Your Federal Student Aid Report (SAR) should list Columbia's federal school code (002707). If the code has been listed on your FAFSA, then it is very likely your application has been sent to Columbia University.

6.  How do I receive the loan funds?

Once you have registered for six or more points, have been assessed tuition and fees, have had your loan certified and fully processed by the Financial Aid Office and you have completed all requirements (see FAQ#4), GSAS can authorize a loan disbursement to your student account held by Columbia’s Office of Registration and Student Financial Services. Your student account will be credited with your loan proceeds.  After charges have been paid, you will be eligible to receive any remaining credit balance as a refund.

7.  How do I get a refund?

Once your loan has been certified and fully processed by the Financial Aid Office, GSAS can authorize a loan disbursement to your student account. After charges have been paid, you will be eligible to receive any remaining credit balance as a refund.

8.  What is the maximum loan amount I can borrow?

Borrowing limits are affected by borrowing caps as set by individual federal and private loan programs, the official cost of attendance (COA), and your federal financial need as determined by the FAFSA.  Students generally can borrow from various loan programs that together provide enough loan proceeds to cover the entire COA.  Federal and Private loans, or a combination thereof, can not exceed the COA.  Generally, the Federal Stafford is supplemented with credit-based loans like the Federal Graduate Plus or Private loans.  Please visit the Graduate Financial Aid section of the Student Financial Services website to obtain detailed summaries of the various loan programs.

9.  Is there a deadline for submitting my loan request?

Newly admitted and continuing students matriculating in the Fall should submit their Financial Aid documents by June 1 to receive priority processing.  We ask that students anticipate between 4 to 6 weeks of processing time for their loan requests.  Application requests received in August may have longer processing times because of the increased volume of financial aid applications during this period.  We ask that you provide the Financial Aid Office a minimum of 30 days to fully process your loan request.  Loan funds generally arrive shortly after this initial processing period.  Incomplete requests will require additional processing time.  You may log onto SSOL to determine if you are missing financial aid documents.  Also, please see FAQ #1 to determine what forms are required. Complete loan application requests received with less 30 days of the due date can not be guaranteed to arrive on time.

Summer-term financial aid applicants must submit their application materials to the Financial Aid Office by April 15th to ensure timely disbursement of their loan proceeds by the Summer Fee Deadline.

10. When do I receive my financial aid award letter?

Once you have been formally admitted to GSAS and have accepted your offer of admission, you may review your financial aid award letter on SSOL when the following documents have been received by GSAS Office of Financial Aid: