Financial Aid FAQs

Applying for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan

1. How do I apply for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan?

The process is essentially the same as it was for FFEL loans. To apply for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, you must apply for need-based financial aid by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once your eligibility has been determined, the Financial Aid Office will send you an Estimated Financial Aid Award. If it indicates you are eligible for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, you will need to meet with your Financial Aid Advisor to complete some additional steps to ensure proper receipt of your funds.

2. Will I need to complete a Federal Direct Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN)?

All borrowers must sign a Federal Direct Stafford MPN, even if they have signed an FFEL Stafford MPN previously. If you previously borrowed a Federal Direct Stafford Loan at another school, and your existing Federal Direct Stafford Loan MPN is not more than 10 years old, you will not be required to complete a new MPN.

3. When can I sign my Federal Direct Stafford Loan MPN? How will I be able to sign it?

New students will receive an electronic Estimated Financial Aid Award with information on their financial aid eligibility and instructions on completing the MPN online. Continuing CCH students will only need to sign the MPN once and are not required to sign a new one each academic year.

For your convenience, your MPN can be signed electronically at www.studentloans.gov. You will need the Personal Identification Number (PIN) issued to you by the Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA. If you have forgotten your PIN, you will be able to retrieve it through www.pin.ed.gov.

4. When will my funds be awarded?

All students are required to meet with their Financial Aid Advisor at the start of each academic year to sign their Estimated Financial Aid Award. With your signature, you authorize your advisor to award all of your funds.

5. How soon will funds be disbursed after I sign the MPN? How will I receive these funds?

If you are registered for classes and have met all other eligibility requirements, funds should be credited to your account after the add/drop period is over. You can monitor your CCH billing account on the portal at https://cchonline.columbiacollege.edu/ to verify when your loan funds are credited.

Applying for Federal Direct PLUS Loan

1. How do I apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?

Parents of dependent undergraduates may apply for up to the full Cost of Attendance, less any other financial aid received, as determined by the Financial Aid Office. Plus loan borrowers may apply for Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans with or without applying for need-based financial aid.

2. Will I need credit approval?

Yes, but you no longer need to select and contact a lender. Under the Direct Loan Program, the criteria for evaluating your credit history may be more lenient than under the previous FFEL program.

3. Will I need to complete a Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN)?

All borrowers must sign a Federal Direct PLUS MPN, even if they have signed an FFEL PLUS MPN previously. You will be able to sign your MPN after your loan has received credit approval. If you previously borrowed a Federal Direct PLUS Loan at another school, your existing Federal Direct PLUS Loan MPN is not more than 10 years old, and you were approved without an endorser, you will not be required to complete a new MPN.

4. When can I sign my Federal Direct PLUS Loan MPN? How will I be able to sign it?

Parents of dependent undergraduates who are new to the college or those who are taking out a Plus loan for the first time will need to sign the Plus MPN after the student receives their Estimated Financial Aid Award. Parents of undergraduates who are continuing students will only need to sign the MPN once and are not required to sign a new one each academic year. Although, a new credit decision for the parent applying for a Plus loan is required each time the parent takes out a new PLUS loan.

For your convenience, your MPN can be signed electronically at www.studentloans.gov. You will need the Personal Identification Number (PIN) issued to you by the Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA. If you have forgotten your PIN, or if you are a parent who did not file a FAFSA, you will be able to retrieve or obtain a PIN through www.pin.ed.gov.

5. How soon will funds be disbursed after I sign the MPN? How will I receive these funds?

If you are registered for classes and have met all other eligibility requirements, funds should be credited to your account after the add/drop period is over. You can monitor your CCH billing account on the portal at https://cchonline.columbiacollege.edu/ to verify when your loan funds are credited.

Entrance Loan Counseling

1. If I have already completed entrance loan counseling at CCH under the FFEL program, will I be required to complete it again for the Direct Loan Program?

Yes. CCH requires that all students complete a new entrance loan counseling under the Direct Loan Program.

2. If this is my first loan at CCH, will I be required to complete entrance loan counseling?

Yes. If you are a first-time borrower at CCH, you will need to complete entrance loan counseling. You will receive instructions on completing the entrance loan counseling with your estimated financial aid award.

Your Previous Loans

1. What happens to the loans I borrowed previously through other lenders? Will I have to repay multiple lenders/servicers?

Any previous federal loans you have borrowed will continue to be maintained by the lender(s) with whom you signed your Master Promissory Note, or by the current holder of the loan if it was sold by your lender. For a detailed record of your federal loans, visit the National Student Loan Database at www.nslds.ed.gov.