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Financial Aid FAQ

What is financial aid?
Financial aid is help for a student who is enrolled in an eligible academic program at an institution participating in the federal student aid programs. Financial aid is designed to assist in covering school expenses including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Financial aid is based on a student's demonstrated financial need. Financial aid consists of federal, state, and institutional/external grants and/or scholarships and student loans.
What does cost of attendance mean?
Cost of Attendance (COA) begins the financial aid process and helps a student determine the cost of their education. It provides guidelines for the Office of Financial Aid to determine eligibility for federal aid. Understanding your COA will allow you to better budget yourself.

Fees fall into two categories:

  • Mandatory fees include tuition, university fees, student health fee (cannot be waived; it is mandatory for all students), and student health insurance fees (can be waived)
  • Non–mandatory fees (cost of living) include room and board (rent, utilities, food), books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses
Is the PhD program fully funded?
PHD program students who are citizens or permanent residents are fully fundedfully funded for the first two years of study. After the first two years, PhD students can apply for graduate federal or private loans, as well as the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, which is a loan forgiveness program for nurses wishing to become a nurse faculty after completing their doctoral program. After four years as a full time faculty member, 85% of the loan is forgiven. Students who who apply for the program must be committed to working as faculty and take an additional educational component with their program plan of study. Doctoral students interested in applying should contact the Office of Financial Aid. (Only doctoral students are eligible.)
Unfortunately, funding is not available for international students.
What does unmet need mean?
In an ideal world, the Office of Financial Aid would be able to provide each student with the full difference between their ability to pay and the cost of education. Due to budget constraints, the Office may provide the student with less than the student's need (as determined by the OFA). This gap is known as the unmet need.
I have completed and submitted the FAFSA; what happens next?
You will receive confirmation that your FAFSA data has been processed in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR). The school(s) listed on your SAR will notify the student if any other information is required to complete the financial aid process. The school will determine your eligibility for financial aid and notify you electronically. The notification you receive is commonly known as an Award Letter or Notification of Financial Aid Eligibility.
What is my "grade level" on the FAFSA for the Master's Direct Entry (MDE) program?
Students in the Masters Direct Entry (MDE) program should select "graduate/professional student" as their grade level on the FAFSA.
Which FAFSA year should I file?
Each year in October, a new FAFSA is available. Please log into FAFSA, and complete a FAFSA for the new academic year. It is suggested to contact our office regarding the proper FAFSA to complete for the particular year you plan on attending School of Nursing.
On the FAFSA it states “Health professions students: Your college may require you to complete Step Four even if you answered “Yes” to any Step Three question.” What should I do?
At this time Columbia Nursing does not requires this information for a financial aid package. Please remember, that if awarded a need-based School of Nursing scholarship, the Office of Financial Aid may require that you submit your parent’s financial information (regardless or your independent status) to determine that you have a financial need at any time during your first year.
How do I know if I need my parent(s)’ financial information for the FAFSA?
Since all Columbia Nursing programs are graduate level programs, there is no need for any student to include their parent(s)' financial information on the FAFSA.
I'm going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for aid. Can I fill out my FAFSA as "married"?
No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. You can update your marital status once you have filed your FAFSA, as long as you have proof of marriage (official marriage certificate).
What do those acronyms on the Student Aid Report (SAR) mean?
The acronyms on the bottom of the SAR represent intermediate results in the need analysis. To fully understand their meaning, you will need to be familiar with the federal need analysis methodology, such as is used by the EFC estimator. The meanings of the acronyms are as follows:
  • EFC: Expected family contribution
  • TI: Total income
  • ATI: Allowances against total income
  • STX: State and other tax allowance
  • EA: Employment allowance
  • IPA: Income protection allowance
  • AI: Available income
  • CAI: Contribution from available income (independent student)
  • DNW: Discretionary net worth
  • APA: Asset protection allowance
  • PCA: Parents' contribution from assets
  • AAI: Adjusted available income
  • TPC: Total parents' contribution
  • TSC: Total student's contribution
  • PC: Parents' contribution
  • SIC: Student's income contribution (dependent)
  • SCA: Student's contribution from assets (dependent)

If an asterisk appears next to the EFC figure, the student has been selected for verification. The asterisk is followed by a code that explains the reason why the student was selected for verification. The letter explains the reason for selection, and the number indicates the priority, with code 1 the highest priority and code 25 the lowest priority.

I am an international student; do I qualify for the scholarships?
At this time, School of Nursing scholarships are only for students that are also eligible for federal aid such as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. International students use personal and family resources, lenders, or external grants or scholarships. Suggested lenders information is available on the Columbia Student Financial Services website.
Where can I get additional information about federal student financial aid?
Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1 (800) 4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1 (800) 730-8913 (if hearing impaired) and ask for a free copy of The Student Guide: Financial Aid from the US Department of Education. This toll-free hotline is run by the US Department of Education and can answer questions about federal and state student aid programs and applications.

Other resources:

What are the estimated MDE/DNP/PHD tuition and fees?
Tuition varies based on the amount of credits required of your specialty. For more information, please visit the Tuition and Fees page.
Do you have any resources regarding filing my own federal taxes?
The IRS provides a good resource for free filing of taxes. If your adjusted gross income is less than $64K, you may be able to file your taxes for free.