Catalog and Student Handbook 2007-2008 
    Sep 21, 2018  
Catalog and Student Handbook 2007-2008 [Archived Catalog]

Financial Assistance

Click on a link to be taken to the entry below.



General Information


The student financial assistance program at Columbia State Community College is designed to aid students who find it difficult or impossible to attend college without financial assistance. Columbia State offers a comprehensive program of financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time work. Major emphasis is placed upon financial need and academic achievement.

To determine financial need, the College utilizes the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which takes into consideration certain factors related to the family status. Although the College endeavors to assist all qualified students as resources permit, this assistance should be viewed only as supplementary to the efforts of the student and student's family.

Please note that financial aid is not available for short-term certificates (less than 24 credit hours).

Financial aid applications and forms are available on the Web at, in the Financial Aid office on the Columbia campus or in the administrative office at any of the College's campus locations. Financial assistance for fall will be awarded beginning with a priority deadline of April 15. After this date, financial assistance will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as funds are available. Renewal of financial assistance is not automatic; students must file a FAFSA form after January 1 each year and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress. First-time applicants must satisfy all admission requirements before assistance will be awarded.

Regulations and funding for institutional-, state-, and federally-supported programs are subject to change. Columbia State reserves the right to administer the programs accordingly.

Financial Aid Attendance Policy

As recipients of Title IV aid (Federal Pell Grants, Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Parent Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, State Grants, or Federal Work-Study), students are required to attend class.

The Financial Aid office monitors class attendance. Students not attending class may no longer be eligible to receive Federal Assistance. They may also be billed for any funds they have received.

Students who find it necessary to stop attending class must complete the official withdrawal process (see "Dropping a Class," and "Withdrawal," on the Academic Information page).

Financial Assistance Resources



Tennessee HOPE Scholarships - These scholarships are provided through the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program. To determine eligibility, the student must apply for the scholarship using the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Priority deadline is May 1 for fall enrollments and February 1 for spring enrollments. For all eligibility requirements and information about the HOPE Scholarship, please contact the Financial Aid office.

Tennessee HOPE Scholarships - Non-traditional Component - The non-traditional student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be an entering freshman at the minimum age of 25 years as of the date of enrollment. An "entering freshman" is defined as a student who is for the first time enrolling in a degree-seeking program of study at an eligible postsecondary institution. The adjusted gross income attributable to the student must be no more than $36,000 per year.

Prospective non-traditional students must work their way into the HOPE Scholarship program by attempting the first 24 semester hours with a minimum grade point average of 2.75. Students are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship in the semester following the one in which the academic requirement is met.

Tennessee HOPE Access Grant - Entering freshmen must have a minimum unweighted 2.75 GPA, an 18-20 ACT (860-970 SAT), and the parents' or independent student's and spouse's adjusted gross income of $36,000 or less on the IRS tax form. The HOPE Access Grant is non-renewable -- the student will be eligible for the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship by meeting HOPE Scholarship renewal criteria upon completion of the first 24 attempted hours.

For all eligibility requirements and information about the HOPE Scholarship programs, please contact the Financial Aid office.

Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant - To participate in the Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant program, a student must meet the college admissions criteria for Dual Enrollment and be enrolled for college courses leading towards a degree for which they also earn high school credit. The grant shall not be utilized for college-level course of study that does not meet high school requirements for graduation. For continued participation, a student must maintain a 2.75 cumulative college grade point average that shall be certified by an Enrollment Services representative each semester. Once the courses and minimum cumulative grade point average are certified, a representative of the Business Services office shall process the award. College courses taken under the restrictions of this grant do not count towards the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship college GPA and the attempted credit hours limitation.

Academic Service Scholarships - Authorized by the Tennessee Board of Regents, these scholarships pay the tuition for full-time students per academic semester. Residents of Tennessee who are recent graduates of a Tennessee high school may apply. Applications must be submitted to the Financial Aid office. The scholarships are not applicable for the summer term.

Academic service scholarships are awarded on the basis of scholastic achievement. Students with a minimum high school grade point average of 2.9 or the equivalent, and an ACT composite score of 19 are eligible to apply. Recipients of academic service scholarships are required to work 75 hours each semester on campus.

Academic service scholarships are not automatically renewed. Recipients must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 each semester. Failure to maintain the required GPA or a satisfactory standard of conduct, or failure to fulfill the required work obligation will result in the automatic forfeiture of the scholarship.

Honor Scholarships - These scholarships are provided through the Columbia State Foundation. Applicants must have a composite score of 23 or above on the ACT. Recipients must maintain a 3.25 GPA to continue receiving the scholarship, which is awarded each fall and spring semester.

Opportunity Scholarships - The purpose of the Opportunity Scholarship is to provide opportunity for disadvantaged students and enhance institutional diversity. Scholarships will be awarded to cover tuition and mandatory fees for a limited number of part-time and full-time students based on the availability of funds. The scholarship is renewal contingent upon maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA for each semester attended.

Foundation Scholarships - These private scholarships, available through the Columbia State Foundation, are made possible through the generosity of individuals, businesses and organizations.

Persons interested in establishing a scholarship or supporting the College's educational endeavors are encouraged to contact the director of development at (931) 540-2512.

Private Scholarships - Recipients for these scholarships are determined by the organization. Examples are churches, places of employment and some civic organizations. Contact should be made directly with those organizations for information.


Federal Pell Grants - These funds are made available to assist students who have a financial need and who have not received a baccalaureate degree. Eligibility is determined by the Department of Education by evaluating the information provided on the FAFSA. These grants are awarded based on financial need.

Academic Competitive Grant (ACG) - These funds are made available to students who qualify and are in an eligible program that leads to an Associate's degree. Eligibility is determined by the Department of Education by evaluating the information provided on the FAFSA. These grants are awarded based on financial need.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant - Funds may be given to undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid office based on financial need and available funds. Applications received by April 15 will be given priority.

Athletic Grants - These grants are available to students who qualify to participate in intercollegiate athletics. These grants vary in amounts and eligibility is determined by the Athletic Department.

Tennessee Student Assistance Awards - These grants are made available to Tennessee residents who are attending a Tennessee college/university, Pell Grant eligible, and U.S. citizens. These grants are based on financial need but funds are limited. The priority deadline for fall semester is May 1.


Federal Stafford (Subsidized) Loan - A long-term loan for which a student must demonstrate financial need as determined from the filing of a FAFSA. The interest rate for new borrowers is variable. The interest is paid by the government while the student is enrolled at least half-time (6 hours) in college. Repayment of principle and interest for the student begins six months after the student ceases to be at least half-time (6 hours). Monthly payments will vary depending on the total amount the student borrows.

The yearly maximum that a student may borrow from the Stafford Loan program is $3,500 for freshmen and $4,500 for sophomores. Eligibility is based on financial need and this loan requires a separate application.

Federal Stafford (Unsubsidized) Loan - This program is available to all students regardless of income. The interest rate and annual amounts a student may borrow are the same as with the Federal Stafford (subsidized) Loan. The difference between the Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is that for the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan only the principle may be deferred while the student is in college. Students pay interest charges while enrolled in college or have the interest capitalized. This loan requires a separate application.

Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students - These long-term loans are available to parents of dependent students regardless of income level if the parents have no adverse credit history. The interest rate is variable. The annual loan limits are based on the cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. The loan checks will be made co-payable to the school and parents, and repayment begins sixty (60) days after the disbursement by the lender. This loan requires a separate application.


Federal College Work-Study - This program provides part-time employment for students. Students usually work 10 to 15 hours per week at $6.00 per hour and are paid monthly. Eligibility is based on financial need.

Institutional Work - These funds are available for a limited number of students who do not qualify for college work-study. Funds for this program are provided through the regular College budget. The number of hours students are allowed to work depends upon their eligibility, class schedule and available funds. Students are paid monthly at a rate of $6.00 per hour.

Applicants for certain federally- and state-supported assistance may be required to furnish personal and/or family tax returns, Social Security, Veterans Administration, or other data for verification purposes. Such records should be collected and maintained prior to submitting an application.


Other financial assistance for students may be available through programs with:

  1. Workforce Development
  2. Veteran's Benefits
  3. Vocational Rehabilitation

Contact the Financial Aid office for information regarding these programs.

Satisfactory Progress Standards for Federal Financial Assistance

  1. Semester Progress (Grade Point Average): A minimum academic average of 2.0 is required at the end of each semester. Satisfactory Grades include A, B, C, D, or Pass. Unsatisfactory Grades include PR, I, F, W, WD, Audit, Dropped, Non-Credit, or No-Pass.
  2. Semester Progress (Hours Passed): The minimum number of hours each recipient must pass during the academic semester is listed below:

    Student's F/A
      Minimum Earned
    Semester Hours
      Hours Per
    Full-time   12 or more   8
    Three-Quarter Time   9-11   6
    Half-Time   6-8   4
    Less than Half-Time   1-5   1-5 (all)
  3. Cumulative Progress (Time Limit):
    1. Degree Program - Financial assistance is available until a student graduates with a degree or for a maximum of 90 attempted semester hours.
    2. Certificate Program - Financial assistance is available until a student completes the eligible program or for 150% of the required program hours.

Hours attempted for developmental studies courses are not considered in these time limits.

If a student is required to take developmental studies coursework, he/she can receive federal assistance for up to 30 hours of coursework. Eligibility beyond 30 hours attempted will be based on college-level courses only.

Satisfactory progress also includes the following:

  1. Students are allowed one semester of financial assistance probation to reestablish satisfactory progress.
  2. After one semester of probation, students who have not reestablished satisfactory progress will be removed from all college- or state-controlled and/or Title IV assistance.
  3. Students may be reinstated on financial aid (for which they are otherwise qualified) after they complete needed credit hours at their own expense and maintain satisfactory progress.
  4. Eligible students receiving unsatisfactory grades in all courses may be removed from all college-controlled and/or Title IV forms of assistance in the subsequent semester of enrollment without probation.
  5. Students may appeal in writing their removal from financial assistance to the Scholarship and Financial Aid Committee. Any appeal must be made by the last day of registration as published in the course schedule. The decision of the committee will be final.
  6. Transfer students will be governed by the same rules as other students in regard to satisfactory completion of courses. Transferable hours attained at previous institutions will be counted in regard to the maximum allowable time frame for graduation.

Return of Title IV Funds


Title IV financial aid recipients who partially withdraw from classes through the official withdrawal process on or after the first day of class may be eligible for a tuition refund based on the Columbia State refund policy. Title IV recipients are allowed to receive such refunds except in cases when they totally withdraw (officially or unofficially) from classes. If a financial aid recipient totally withdraws and there are institutional funds to be returned, the funds will be returned to the proper program in accordance with the policy. This policy is applicable only to Title IV recipients.

If a Title IV recipient totally withdraws (officially or unofficially) from classes on or before the 60% point of the semester based on the calendar days within the semester, a calculation will be performed based on this policy. This calculation will include a determination of the last date of attendance, registration fees, the total amount of Title IV assistance you received, the percentage and amount of Title IV assistance earned, and the percentage and amount of Title IV assistance unearned.

A copy of the total policy and procedure is available in the Financial Aid office.

Return of Title IV Funds by the School must be distributed in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  3. Federal Plus Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grants
  5. Academic Competitive Grants
  6. Federal SEOGs
  7. Other Student Financial Aid programs (Title IV)

Return of Title IV Funds by the Student must be distributed in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  3. Federal Plus Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grants (50%)
  5. Academic Competitive Grants (50%)
  6. Federal SEOGs (50%)
  7. Other Title IV Programs (50% for Grants)

Consumer Information

Consumer information may be obtained in the Financial Aid office. Available information includes crime and safety data, graduation or completion rates and transfer-out rates for general student population and student athletes, participation and financing data of men's and women's sports, drug abuse policy, and privacy rights of students.

Veterans Certification

Columbia State cooperates with the Veterans Administration in providing educational opportunities for veterans and eligible persons desiring to attend Columbia State under appropriate federal legislation. To verify eligibility for educational training, contact the Veterans Administration. You may call toll-free 1-888-442-4551.

The Admissions office will assist eligible individuals in the completion of necessary forms, program planning, and in making appropriate certifications to the Veterans Administration. Columbia State does not participate in advance payment of tuition for veterans.

Servicemembers, veterans, and dependents of veterans who are eligible beneficiaries of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits or other governmentally funded educational assistance, subject to the conditions and guidelines set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated 49-7-104 as amended, may elect, upon formal application, to defer payment of required tuition and fees until the final day of their term for which the deferment has been requested. Application for the deferment must be made no later than 14 days after the beginning of the term, and the amount of the deferment shall not exceed the total monetary benefits to be received for the term. Students who have been granted deferments are expected to make timely payments on their outstanding tuition and fees balance once education benefits are being delivered, and eligibility for such deferment shall terminate if the student fails to abide by an applicable rule or regulation, or to act in good faith in making timely payments. This notice is published pursuant to Public Chapter 279, Acts of 2003, effective July 1, 2003.