Columbia State offers grants, scholarships, loans and part-time work to students who qualify. In most cases, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine a student's eligibility for financial aid. Only a few scholarships do not require completion of the FAFSA. All federal financial aid assistance programs plus many state and institutional require completion of the FAFSA.
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 applications and forms are available on the web at www.columbiastate.edu/financialaid, in the Financial Aid Office, Jones Student Center, Columbia campus, or in the administrative office at other campus locations.
Programs that Columbia State offers include:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Federal Work-Study and Institutional Work-Study
- Federal Direct Loans
- Federal Direct Parent Loans (PLUS)
- State of Tennessee Grants and Scholarships, including Tennessee Student Assistance Award and HOPE
- Tennessee Promise Scholarships
- Various Academic and Performance Scholarships
- VA Educational Benefits
- Tennessee Adult Reconnect
Some of these programs are need-based. Financial need is calculated by a formula based on nationally determined standards. The following formula is a simplified explanation of financial need:
Educational Costs - Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need
Educational costs (Cost of Attendance) consist of tuition and fees; books and supplies; room and board; transportation, personal and other school related expenses. The expected family contribution is what the student/spouse or student/parents should be able to contribute toward educational costs. The costs in this formula are determined by each school, and the expected family contribution is determined by standard calculations based on information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A student may require additional money to attend school, but not have financial need as defined by the federal government.
Need analysis is determined by the U.S. Department of Education by using information provided on the FAFSA. The FAFSA is used to determine student eligibility for federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid programs.
NOTE: Students who already have a baccalaureate degree are not eligible to receive Federal Pell Grant.
Coursework toward Program of Study (CPoS)
Federal financial aid rules could cause your scholarships, loans, and grants to be reduced if you enroll in the wrong classes. Only courses required for degree completion can be used to determine your aid eligibility for federal financial aid programs such as grants, work-study, and loans.
For federal aid to pay for a course in your major or other degree requirement, it must be part of your Course Program of Study (CPoS) or be necessary to help you earn the total hours required for your degree. For those depending upon federal aid to attend Columbia State, not paying attention to this rule could affect your full-time enrollment status, which could also impact Columbia State or state scholarships, like lottery scholarships.
To apply for most financial aid programs, a student must:
- Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov using Columbia State's school code (003483) beginning October 1.
- The FAFSA must be completed by March 15 to be considered for priority aid at Columbia State. Priority processing is July 1 to submit any new documents including verification to assure the Financial Aid Office has sufficient time to complete awarding.
- An additional application is required for Federal Work Study and Federal Direct Loans and may be obtained from the Columbia State financial aid website or in the Financial Aid office. These should be submitted by the priority processing date as listed in the catalog each semester.
- An additional state application is required for Tennessee Promise. More information is available at www.tnpromise.gov about the November 1 deadline for this application.
Methods of Selection
Applications received by March 15 will receive first priority. If there are remaining funds after this date, funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis by the date the file is completed until funds are exhausted.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a grant to help undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Students must be Pell eligible, financially needy; awards are prorated based on hours participating in each semester.
FSEOG and Federal Work Study funds remaining at the end of Spring semester will assist eligible students with Summer semester costs.
Federal Pell Grant funds are awarded as students are determined eligible.
Loan awards under the Federal Direct Loan Program are disbursed after requesting students are determined to be eligible.
All state programs are awarded as students are determined eligible.
To be eligible for federal student aid, a student must meet all of the following criteria:
- Have a high school diploma or a High School Equivalency Diploma (GED® or HiSET®).
- Have a valid Social Security number.
- Have financial need.
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment for the purpose of obtaining a degree or certificate.
- Be registered with Selective Service, if required.
- Must certify that student will use federal financial aid only for educational purposes.
- Must not be in default on a federal student loan or must not owe money on a federal grant.
- Must not be incarcerated, except in specific exceptions as outlined in federal policy.
- Make satisfactory academic progress.
Federally Funded Financial Aid Programs
Federal Pell Grants - These funds provide financial assistance to eligible students who are pursuing an associate's degree or certificate. The Federal Pell Grant awards based on financial need and eligibility as determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on the information provided on the FAFSA. The financial aid award is initially based upon full-time enrollment. If a student's enrollment changes, the award will be prorated.
For less than full-time enrolled students, the Federal Pell Grant prorate as follows:
||Semester Credit Hours
||12 or more
|Less than Half-Time
Please note: Financial aid is not available for short-term certificates (less than 16 credit hours).
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant - Undergraduates with exceptional financial need may qualify for SEOG funds. The Financial Aid office determines eligibility based on financial need and available funds. Pell eligible students with a "0" family contribution whose FAFSA was received by March 15 receive first priority.
Federal Work Study - This program provides part-time employment for eligible students. To be eligible for a part-time job, a student must have a completed FAFSA on file, have financial need, and be making satisfactory academic progress. Students earn a hourly rate (determined each award year). Federal work-study payroll occurs monthly; time sheets are due from the supervisors to the Business Office in the Pryor Building by the 15th of each month. Funds are directly deposited into the student's bank account on the last working day of each month. Applications for employment are available on the Columbia State website. All federal work-study students work in accordance with the schedule set by the supervisor. FWS work hours claimed must not be while students are scheduled to be in class or involved in an athletic event. Failure to fulfill the work schedule or perform satisfactory work will result in loss of employment.
Columbia State Community College participates in the William D. Ford Direct Student Loan Programs.
Federal Direct Student Loan (Subsidized) - This subsidized loan is available to students who demonstrate financial need. Eligible students may borrow a subsidized Direct Loan to cover some or all of their educational needs. For this loan, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest while the student is in school at least half-time, for the first six months after leaving school (referred to as a "grace period"), and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payment). The amount of the subsidized loan cannot exceed the student's financial need.
Federal Direct Student Loan (Unsubsidized) - Without requiring a student to demonstrate financial need, the U.S. Department of Education does not pay interest on unsubsidized loans. The financial aid office determines the amount of the unsubsidized loan based on the cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. For an unsubsidized loan the student is responsible for paying the interest that accrues on the loan from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full.
Depending on the student's financial need, a student may receive both the subsidized and unsubsidized loans for the same enrollment period, but the total amount of these loans may not exceed the annual loan limit.
Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) - These loans are available to parents of dependent students regardless of income level if the parents have no adverse credit history. The annual loan limits are based on the cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. The loan is co-payable to the school and parents, and repayment begins sixty (60) days after the disbursement.
Federal Direct student loans are distributed in two (2) equal payments sent directly to Columbia State. First-time Freshman Borrowers will have a 30 day delay for first disbursement after the first day classes. Federal regulations require the school to verify the student is enrolled at least half-time (6 hours), is participating in classes, and making satisfactory academic progress at the time of disbursement. Students receive notification when loan payments arrive.
NOTE: Columbia State Community College does not endorse any private student loans.
How to Apply
Columbia State Community College does not automatically package loans. In order to apply for a Federal Direct Loan a student must:
- Complete the FAFSA with Columbia State code 003483.
- Complete a Columbia State Direct Loan Request form available in ChargerNet on the student page.
- First-time borrowers to Columbia State must, also, go to www.studentloans.gov and:
- Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling, a tool to ensure a student understands the obligation to repay the loan.
- Sign Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan.
- Returning students who have never borrowed a Federal Direct Loan must also go to www.studentloans.gov and:
- Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling.
- Sign Master Promissory Note (MPN).
To apply for a Direct PLUS Loan:
- Parent will need to complete a Columbia State Direct PLUS Request form available on ChargerNet on the student page.
- Complete the Direct Plus Loan Process at www.studentloans.gov.
- Endorse Direct PLUS Loan.
Priority processing for a fall loan is July 1 and for a spring loan is November 1.
In order to be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), students must:
- Be enrolled in at least six credit hours.
- Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress.
- Completed Direct Loan Entrance Counseling.
- Have electronically signed Direct Loan Master Promissory Note.
- Return Columbia State Direct Student Loan Request to the Financial Aid Office.
In order to be eligible for a Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS):
- Student must have a completed FAFSA on file with Columbia State (code 003483).
- Student must be enrolled in at least six credit hours.
- Student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress.
- Parent must return Columbia State Direct PLUS Loan application to the Financial Aid Office.
- Parent must have completed the PLUS Request Process and endorsed the Direct PLUS Loan with the Department of Education.
Delivery of Loan Proceeds
Colleges are required to disburse all loan proceeds in at least two payments. Columbia State will verify that the student is still enrolled at least half-time (6 hours), attending class and making Satisfactory Academic Progress before releasing funds are released. For disbursement dates see Important Dates .
If a student or parent wishes to cancel a loan and return the funds to the lender, the student or parent must send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit this information in writing to the Financial Aid Office. Please note: NO loan funds are available for delivery prior to the first day of classes for any semester.
Veterans Information and Services
Columbia State is a DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (DOD MOU) college and cooperates with the Veterans Administration in providing educational opportunities for veterans and eligible persons desiring to attend Columbia State under appropriate federal legislation. Students receiving VA educational benefits must meet the same standard of progress as all other students. Veterans should take note of the following additional responsibilities:
- All veterans must to complete a Columbia State Veteran's Request for Certification each semester of attendance. Failure to do so will result in one's enrollment not being certified for payment. Certification forms are available on the Financial Aid website.
- Federal regulations require a student to be seeking a degree/certificate in order to be eligible for veteran's benefits. Students may only take classes that apply to the degree/certificate they are currently seeking at Columbia State. Any other classes taken will not be certified for payment. Please refer to the degree and certificate requirements listed in the catalog for information on eligible classes for one's program.
- VA will not certify Learning Support classes that are delivered entirely by online methods. (Columbia State does not deliver on-line Learning Support classes.)
- Veteran students certified for certificate programs must meet the following progress standards:
- Attain a 2.0 GPA for the current semester, or
- Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA as shown below:
- GPA must be at least 1.5 after attempting 50% of the certificate program.
- GPA must be at least 2.0 above 50% of the certificate program.
Failure to meet these standards will result in being placed on probation for one term; the student will receive notification of the probation. Failure to meet these standards at the end of the probationary term will result in termination of GI Bill® benefits until satisfactory progress is regained. (GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about educaton benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. Government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/).
- Veteran students must notify school certifying official if they add or drop a course, change degree program, change address, or withdraw from classes.
- The VA will not pay for the repeat of satisfactorily completed courses.
- If veteran students do not make satisfactory academic progress, they may be placed on probation or suspension from VA educational benefits.
- The VA requires Columbia State to give prior credit for any previous education a veteran student may have earned. Official academic transcripts from each previously attended must be on file in the Columbia State Records Office. Veteran's benefits can be certified for only two semesters without official academic transcripts being on file. Any subsequent semesters of attendance will not be certified for payment until the required academic transcripts have been received and evaluated by the Records Office.
- Veterans may complete a Student Veteran/Certain Veteran's Dependent Tuition & Fees Payment Deferment request to defer tuition and fees at Columbia State. These forms are available in the Financial Aid office or by contacting the VA certifying official. This form must be completed each school semester.
The Financial Aid Office will assist eligible individuals in completing necessary forms, planning a program of study, and making appropriate certifications to the Veterans Administration. Columbia State does not participate in advance payment of tuition for veterans.
Veterans and dependents of veterans who are eligible beneficiaries of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs educational 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 occur no later than 14 days prior to 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 with approved deferments must make timely payments on their outstanding tuition and fees balance once delivery of education benefits, 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. Questions regarding entitlement, eligibility, or payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs should be directed to 1.888.442.4551. Information regarding the Veterans Benefits Administration or the GI Bill® is available at www.benefits.va.gov/benefits.
In accordance with PL 115-407 Section 103, veterans and students using Chapter 33 or Chapter 31 benefits will not have the following imposed as a result of late payment: assessment of late fees, denial of access to classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities, or a requirement that the student borrow additional funds due to the inability to meet financial obligations to the institution as a result of delayed payments for educational assistance from VA.
For more information on VA benefits, contact Financial Aid email@example.com or call the Columbia State Financial Aid Office VA School Certifying Official at 615.591.4180.
Other Assistance Programs
Other financial assistance for qualifying students may be available through the following programs:
- TN Labor and Workforce Development Area Centers
- TN Vocational Rehabilitation Regional Centers
Contact the Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding these programs.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Reviews and Appeals (SAP)
Per federal regulations, a student's rate of progression while in college will determine whether a student remains eligible for federal assistance under the Title IV, HEA programs.
These programs include Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal Subsidized Direct Loan, Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Some state programs may also apply. Columbia State Community College has established a reasonable policy and procedure to review these standards at the end of each semester for all students. full- or part-time whether receiving federal assistance or not.
The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) notification will be received via myChargerNet after grading deadlines each semester. Students may review their status in myChargerNet.
At Columbia State Community College progress is measured by the student's term, grade point average, credits earned in relation to credits attempted, and length of the current academic program. A student may violate one or more standards and have various appeal issues to address. The entire academic record is reviewed:
- including semesters of enrollment when a student did not receive financial aid,
- all developmental learning support courses, and
- transfer credits accepted by the College.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards are as follows:
Note: Students may be deficient in one or more of the following standards.
- Grade Point Average (GPA)
In order to maintain the minimum academic scholastic requirements, the student must maintain a minimum cumulative overall combined GPA based on the number of hours attempted (including transfer and remedial/developmental/learning support hours) on the following scale:
||Associate Degree Programs
||Overall Combined GPA Hrs.
||Minimum Cumulative GPA
||00.1 - 14.0
||14.1 - 26.0
||26.1 - 40.0
||40.1 - 48.0
||48.1 - 56.0
||56.1 & above
||Certificate Degree Programs
||% Program Completion
||Minimum Cumulative GPA
||1 - 25%
||25.1 - 50%
||50.1% and above
The GPA includes grades of W, F, FA, & I. Students who do not earn any credits (zero hours) in any one semester will be considered to be in violation of Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards. Additionally, these students may be responsible for repayment of federal aid received for that term.
- Measurable Progress of at least 67% - PACE
At least, 67% or two-thirds of cumulative credits attempted (including transfer and developmental learning support courses) must be earned. Grades of "W, I, F, or FA" will be considered as hours attempted, but NOT considered as hours earned. To determine if a student meets this percentage, divide the cumulative earned hours by the cumulative attempted hours = PACE. If PACE is 67% or greater, the student is meeting the PACE standard.
- Measurable Progress Maximum Timeframe within 150% of program length - MAX
A reasonable length of time for completion of an educational program is defined as no longer than 150% of the length of the program. Transfer credits accepted by Columbia State will be counted towards the 150% total including developmental learning support hours. A student who is over the MAX hours must file a SAPMAX financial Aid Appeal form with an attached degree audit. A maximum time frame is calculated as the credit hours for program completion multiplied by 150% to equal the maximum time frame for financial aid eligibility. Embedded certificates within an associate degree program are reviewed at the associate level.
Students who have already earned a degree and/or certificate will have the opportunity to file an appeal to receive financial aid for additional coursework. (SAP-MAXHRS Form). The Financial Aid Office may allow additional hours needed to complete an additional degree/certificate to the existing overall credit hours previously attempted for the first degree/certificate. Transfer degrees and/or certificates posted by Admissions or Records count in the evaluation of this standard.
At any point when it becomes mathematically impossible for a student to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards, the student becomes ineligible for all federal financial aid programs.
Reviews and Appeals:
- First Review
A student failing to meet GPA or PACE will be contacted via Columbia State email. First review determinations of not meeting GPA and/or PACE will be placed on a FINANCIAL AID WARNING for ONE semester. The student may continue to receive federal funds for one payment period. No written appeal is required for a student on warning status for GPA or PACE.
All students over the 150% MAX hours must file a SAPMAX Financial Aid Appeal form with an attached degree audit even if determined in a first review.
- Second Review
Students who fail to regain eligibility at the end of the warning semester, will be ineligible to receive financial aid until they adhere to the SAP Standards. Students can appeal their financial aid ineligibility. Appealing to request Financial Aid Probation may be an option for a student who could reach good standing within one semester. The student may receive aid for one payment period while on probation unless assigned a SAP Improvement Plan.
Students may be assigned a SAP Improvement Plan (Academic Plan) to assist in reaching good standing with the standards. The SAP Improvement Plan may require the student to complete a specified percentage of credit hours during the current term, earn a specified GPA, and/or meet with an academic advisor. Students remain on the Improvement Plan until back in good standing with all SAP Standards. Students who fail to meet the SAP Improvement Plan terms, will be terminated from financial aid eligibility. Each student may regain financial aid eligibility by improving to the levels of Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards. Students assigned a SAP Improvement Plan receive the details of any SAP Improvement Plan via their Columbia State email.
How to Appeal
An appeal is a process by which a student who is receiving financial aid and is not meeting SAP standards petitions the College for reconsideration of eligibility for federal aid. A student must appeal for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) violations other than a warning. Any loss of eligibility as a result of this policy may be appealed in writing by the dates published on the Columbia State Financial Aid website. Deadlines are enforced. The Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal form is available on the college's Financial Aid website. The appeal must include a signed, written statement explaining why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed in his/her situation that will allow satisfactory progress at the next evaluation. Appropriate supporting documentation (copy of grade report, death immediate family member, proof of personal illness, or other special circumstance) should be submitted. For Maximum Timeframe Limit appeals, only a SAPMAX Appeal for Financial Aid Additional Coursework form (also on the Financial Aid website) needs to be submitted. The student will be notified by Columbia State email of the result of the appeal. All decisions made by the Appeals Committee are final.
- Appeal Decisions
Approved - Appealing students will be notified via Columbia State email if their appeal is approved. If assigned a SAP Improvement Plan, the student must adhere to the plan. The student's SAP will be reviewed again at the end of the next semester.
Denied - Students whose appeals are denied will receive notification via Columbia State email. Because financial aid eligibility will be suspended, students must use other financial payment resources for the next enrollment semester. When the students again meets the Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards, they may appeal for financial aid to be reinstated by following Step 3.
Academic Standing for Records
The Records Office monitors Academic Standing at the end of each semester. The Financial Aid Office monitors Satisfactory Academic Progress also at the end of each semester. These are separate processes. Decisions of these appeals are independent of each other.
Financial Aid Class Participation Policy
As recipients of Title IV aid (Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, Federal Direct Parent Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, State Grants, or Federal Work-Study), students should participate in all class meetings.
As Columbia State Community College is a school that is not required to take attendance by Title IV, the Financial Aid Office determines student participation in enrolled classes on the College defined census date. After this date, a grade of "FA" is used to alert the Financial Aid Office to unofficial withdrawals. Students may no longer be eligible to receive financial assistance as a results of unofficial withdrawals. Students may also be billed for any funds they have received and not earned. The Financial Aid Office obtains notice of official withdrawals from the Records Office weekly.
Students who find it necessary to stop attending class must complete the official withdrawal process. (see Academic Information, Registration for Courses , "Dropping a Class" and "Withdrawal".)
Return of Title IV Funds Policy
Students who withdraw from all classes prior to completing 60% of an enrollment term will have their aid recalculated based on the percent of the term they completed and may owe money to repay the award. The Financial Aid Office encourages students to read this policy carefully. If a student is thinking about withdrawing from all classes PRIOR to completing the semester, please CONTACT the Financial Aid Office to determine how withdrawal will affect one's financial aid and possible repayment.
"Title IV Funds" refers to federal aid programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (as amended) and includes: Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Parent Loans to Undergraduate Students (PLUS), Federal Pell Grants, and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).
A student's withdrawal date is:
- The date the student began the institution's withdrawal process (as described in Columbia State's class schedule) or officially notified the institution of intent to withdraw, or
- The midpoint of the period for a student who stops attending all classes without notifying the institution, or
- The student's last date of participation in a documented course-related activity.
Students may withdraw from all classes using myChargerNet. Refunds on all institutional charges (tuition and fees) are calculated by using the institutional refund policy published in the catalog. Refunds calculated by Columbia State as the result of students who drop a class(es) but who do not totally withdraw from the institution will be issued to the students.
For a student who withdraws without providing notification to Columbia State's Records Office, the college will determine the withdrawal date no later than 30 days after the end of the earliest of the (1) payment period or period of enrollment, (2) academic year, or (3) educational program.
The percentage of Title IV aid unearned to be returned to the appropriate program shall be 100% minus the percent earned. No program can receive a refund if the student did not receive aid from that program. Unearned aid shall be returned first by Columbia State within a 45-day time frame from the student's account to the appropriate programs in the following order:
- Unsubsidized Direct Loan
- Subsidized Direct Loan
- Direct Parent Loans to Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal SEOG
When the total amount of unearned aid is greater than the amount returned by Columbia State from the student's account, the student is responsible for returning unearned aid to the appropriate program(s) as follows:
- Unsubsidized Direct Loan*
- Subsidized Direct Loan*
- Direct Parent Loans to Undergraduate Students (PLUS)*
- Federal Pell Grant**
- Federal SEOG**
*Loan amounts are returned by the student according to the terms of the promissory note.
**Amounts to be returned by the student to federal grant programs will be reduced by 50%. A student does not owe a repayment if the original grant overpayment is $50 or less.
The Financial Aid Office will notify the student in writing of the amount of repayment for any funds returned to the U.S. Department of Education on their behalf within 30 days of determining the student's withdrawal. The student has 30 calendar days after Columbia State Business Services' notification of an outstanding balance to make a repayment in full or to make satisfactory repayment arrangements.
If the student does not repay the entire amount or make satisfactory repayment arrangements within the time allotted, any repayment owed will be sent to the U.S. Department of Education for collection. The student then has the opportunity to repay or make satisfactory repayment arrangements with the U.S. Department of Education. STUDENTS WHO HAVE NOT REPAID OR MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO REPAY WILL BE INELIGIBLE FOR TITLE IV AID AT ANY COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY.
Students are responsible for making federal grant repayments. THEY MUST ALSO REPAY COLUMBIA STATE FOR ANY FUNDS RETURNED TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ON THEIR BEHALF. Students may submit a written appeal for a refund to the college's Business Services Office for extenuating circumstances surrounding their withdrawal from college. For more information about the College's refund policy, please see "Institutional Fees and Refunds ".
Worksheets used to determine the amount of a refund or return of Title IV aid are available upon request in the Financial Aid Office, as well as examples of how the policy is applied.
If Columbia State determines from the Return of Title IV Funds calculation the need for a post-withdrawal disbursement of Title IV loan funds, the Financial Aid Office will notify the student within 30 calendar days of the date of the institution's determination that the student has withdrawn. The written notification will be prior to making any post-withdrawal disbursement of loan funds, whether those loan funds are to be credited to the student's account or disbursed directly to the student, and will include information necessary for the student, or parent for a Direct Parent PLUS Loan, to make an informed decision as to whether the individual would like to accept post-withdrawal disbursement of additional loan funds. It is strongly encouraged not to make such an authorization and increase the amount of Title IV loan debt unless the student has an outstanding balance to Columbia State.
State Funded Financial Aid Programs
The Tennessee Eligibility Verification for Entitlement Act (EVEA) [TCA 4-58-101 seq.] requires public institutions of higher education to verify that persons seeking a "state benefit" are either a "United States Citizen" or "lawfully present" in the United States.
The term "state benefit" includes in-state tuition, Tennessee Lottery Scholarships and Grants, Tennessee Promise Scholarship, academic scholarship, common market, or any other form of tuition assistance or waiver funded with state- appropriated dollars. State benefit does not include tuition assistance funded privately, such as a scholarship from the institution's foundation or a privately endowed scholarship.
For more information on this act or documentation needed to verify "state benefit" eligibility, please contact the Admissions Office.
Tennessee Scholarships and Grants
Tennessee Scholarships and Grants originate through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) and include funds from the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program. The student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by September 1st for the fall semester and February 1st for the spring and summer semesters, and must list Columbia State Community College as the student's first school choice on the FAFSA. The FAFSA results go to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) to determine eligibility. A student must be a Tennessee resident for one (1) year prior to enrollment; the dependent student's residence status is based on the parent(s) state of residence-the parent(s) state of residence; therefore, the parent(s) must be a resident of the state for one year prior to enrollment. Tennessee Scholarships and Grants may not exceed more than the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA); if awarded aid is more than the COA, the Scholarships and/or Grants may be reduced. If a student is enrolled less than full-time in a semester, the Tennessee Scholarships and Grants are prorated based on the number of hours in which a student is enrolled. Student must be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours) in the semester to be eligible to receive Tennessee Scholarship and Grant funds.
Following are some of the Tennessee Scholarships and Grants offered at Columbia State Community College; a complete listing of scholarships and grants available through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) website.
HOPE Scholarship -Enrollment Requirements Students must have graduated from a Tennessee eligible high school, have an overall weighted minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or achieve a minimum of 21 ACT (980 SAT), exclusive of the essay. Students completing high school in a Tennessee home school program must have been enrolled at the Tennessee home school for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the completion of the Tennessee home school program and must achieve a minimum of 21 ACT (980 SAT), exclusive of the essay. Recipients of a High School Equivalency Diploma (GED® or HiSET®) must achieve a minimum of 21 ACT (980 SAT), exclusive of the essay, and meet additional eligibility requirements. ACT/SAT exams must be taken on a national or state test date and prior to the first day of college enrollment. Students must enroll at any postsecondary institution in a degree seeking program within 16 months of graduation from an eligible high school, home school or receipt of the High School Equivalency Diploma (GED® or HiSET®). Hope Scholarships may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
HOPE Scholarship for Non-Traditional Students - The student must be 25 years of age or older. Student's (and spouse's) adjusted gross income (AGI) must be $36,000 or less on IRS tax form. Student must enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution as an entering freshman or have not been enrolled for at least two (2) years after last attending any postsecondary institution and have not earned a baccalaureate degree. Student must be continuously enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution in the fall and spring semesters once beginning or returning to college and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Student must have a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA after 12 attempted credit hours or required GPA at subsequent benchmark (see Hope Scholarship Renewal Criteria for benchmark hours and GPA requirements). *Attempted hours and college grades prior to re-enrollment at an eligible postsecondary institution after at least a two year break in enrollment are not considered in calculation of TELS hours and GPA. The attempted hours used to "earn" the Non-Traditional Hope Scholarship are not used in calculation of cumulative hours and GPA. Once awarded, the renewal criteria and termination criteria shall be the same as for the Hope Scholarship with the addition that the student's (and spouse's) AGI must be $36,000 or less. NOTE: *The five (5) years and total semester hour limitations shall be the sum of years or total attempted hours while receiving the Hope Scholarship and the Hope Scholarship for Non-Traditional students. Non-Traditional Hope Scholarship may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
Hope Scholarship - Renewal Criteria The student must have a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA at the end of semester in which the student attempted 24 and 48 semester hours. The student must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of the semester in which the student attempted 72 and 96 semester hours. However, if the student does not have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of the semester in which the student attempted 72 and 96 semester hours, then the student must have a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA and have a semester GPA of at least 3.0 at the end of the semester in which the student attempted 72 and 96 semester hours and every semester following; the student must maintain full-time enrollment and the student's continued eligibility will be determined on a semester-by-semester basis. Note: all hours attempted after high school graduation are included in calculation of TELS hours and GPA. The student must be continuously enrolled at an eligible postsecondary institution in the fall and spring semesters and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. Student must maintain full-time enrollment status; the student may not drop (or stop attending) from full-time enrollment to part-time enrollment or withdraw from a semester. Student's renewal eligibility is reviewed at the end of each semester in which the student is enrolled. If a student ceases to be academically eligible for the Hope Scholarship, the student may regain the award one-time only. The award may be re-established once the student meets any of the above criteria and maintains continuous enrollment and satisfactory academic progress at an eligible postsecondary institution without the Hope Scholarship. If at any time the student drops from full-time enrollment to part-time enrollment or withdraws from a semester, the student will no longer meet the minimum requirements; however, the student may appeal the ineligible status in order to restore Hope Scholarship eligibility if the change in enrollment status was due to a documented extenuating circumstance beyond the student's control. The student may use a one-time only repeat provision should the student elect to replace the grade of a class with the higher grade received from the repeated class; if the student previously lost the award for the first time due to grades and if the student has repeated a course with a higher grade that will bring the TELS GPA at or above the minimum GPA required at the end of the semester in which a benchmark is reached, the use of the one-time repeat provision and one-time regain provision will serve to work together to re-establish the student's award.
Hope Scholarship - Termination Criteria Student has earned a baccalaureate degree or five (5) years have passed from the date of initial enrollment at any postsecondary institution or student has attempted 120 semester hours or has received the Hope Scholarship for eight (8) full-time equivalent semesters at any postsecondary institution; whichever occurs later.
Students should never drop a course without inquiring with the Financial Aid Office about how it may impact their lottery scholarship eligibility. Please contact Columbia State Financial Aid at financialaid@ColumbiaState.edu or call 931.540.8267.
General Assembly Merit Scholarship (GAMS) - A student must have graduated from a Tennessee eligible high school, have an overall weighted minimum 3.75 grade point average (GPA) AND a 29 ACT (1280 SAT), exclusive of the essay. ACT/SAT exams must be taken on a national or state test date and prior to the first day of college enrollment. Students completing high school in a Tennessee home school program, in addition to meeting the Hope Scholarship requirements, and during the course of a home school program, must be enrolled in at least four (4) college-level courses totaling at least twelve (12) semester hours and achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. AND achieve a 29 ACT (1280 SAT), exclusive of the essay. ACT must be taken on a national test date; the SAT must be taken on a national or state test date. ACT/SAT must be taken prior to the first day of college enrollment. GAMS is awarded in addition to the Hope Scholarship. A student may receive GAMS or the Aspire Award, but not both. GAMS may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
Aspire Award - A student must meet all Hope Scholarship requirements. Parents' or independent student's (and spouse's) adjusted gross income must be $36,000 or less on IRS tax form. The Aspire Award is in addition to the Hope Scholarship; Non-Traditional students are not eligible for the Aspire Award. A student may receive the Aspire Award or GAMS, but not both. The Aspire Award may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
HOPE Access Grant - Students must have graduated from a Tennessee eligible high school, have an overall weighted minimum 2.75 grade point average (GPA) and achieve a 18-20 ACT (860-970 SAT), exclusive of the essay. ACT/SAT exams must be taken on a national or state test date and prior to the first day of college enrollment. Student must enroll at any postsecondary institution within 16 months of graduation from an eligible high school. Parents' or independent student's (and spouse's) adjusted gross income must be $36,000 or less on IRS tax form. Hope Access Grant is non-renewable after 24 attempted hours; student may be eligible for Hope Scholarship by meeting Hope Scholarship renewal criteria. Hope Access Grant may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant - Students must meet the high school requirements of and be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship or HOPE Access Grant; students who were in the custody of the Department of Children's Services for at least one year after their 14th birthday and who present official certification from the Department of Children's Services that the student meets the eligibility requirements may qualify for the grant. The grant may continue for a period of no more than 4 years after the date of graduation from high school or equivalent and for a period of no more than six years after admittance to an eligible public postsecondary institution. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress standards. Hope Foster Child Tuition Grant may be awarded fall, spring, and summer semesters equally.
Tennessee Student Assistance Awards (TSAA) - Eligibility requires a student must have a valid Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 2100 or less as determined by the Department of Education based on FAFSA information. Student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress and not be in default on a loan or owe a refund on any grant previously received at any institution and have not received a baccalaureate degree. Prior year recipients will receive the award if they meet all eligibility requirements and complete the FAFSA on or before March 1; remaining funds will be awarded to the neediest applicants on a first come, first served basis. Students are strongly encouraged to submit a FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year. A student may receive TSAA for a total of four (4) semesters, and TSAA may be awarded fall and spring semesters equally.
Helping Heroes Grant (HHG) - To be eligible, a student must be an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces of the United States, or a former or current member of a reserve or Tennessee National Guard unit who was called into active military service of the United States. The student must be awarded the Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal on or after September 11, 2001. The student must have not earned a baccalaureate degree, not be in default on a federal Title IV educational loan or Tennessee educational loan, and not owe a refund on a federal Title IV student financial aid program or a Tennessee student financial aid program. The student must be in compliance with federal drug-free rules and laws for receiving financial assistance and not be incarcerated. Award of the HHG occurs after the completion of a semester, provided the student successfully completes the course with a non-failing grade as the final grade for the course. The student must complete the TSAC application for the Helping Heroes Grant for each academic year by September 1 for fall enrollment, February 1 for spring enrollment, or May 1 for summer enrollment; the grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The student must provide a copy of his/her DD 214 to TSAC with application. A student may receive HHG for a total of eight (8) "full" semesters or until the eighth anniversary of the veteran's honorable discharged from military service.
Tennessee Promise Scholarship - Tennessee Promise is a scholarship and mentoring program designed as a last dollar scholarship for tuition and mandatory fees not covered the Federal Pell Grant, Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships including HOPE, Tennessee Student Assistance Awards, or state waivers/discounts. The tuition and mandatory fees shall not include fees charged for TN eCampus. A critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant receives from a mentor who assists the student in navigating the college admissions process. Community service performed prior to each term of enrollment is a unique requirement.
Tennessee Promise Application Process - To participate in the Tennessee Promise program, students must complete the Tennessee Promise Scholarship award application for the initial year of enrollment no later than November 1 of their senior year of high school. The application is available utilizing the TSAC Student portal.
Students participating in the Tennessee Promise Scholarship program must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or renewal FAFSA, by February 15 yearly for fall enrollment. A student who meets all academic and non-academic requirements of the Tennessee Promise Scholarship may transfer from one eligible postsecondary institution to another eligible institution and maintain the scholarship, provided the student is able to complete the diploma or associate degree in the amount of time remaining before reaching a terminating event. A TSAC Change of Institution form is available by contacting the Financial Aid Office or any campus front office and on the TSAC Student Portal.
Tennessee Promise Eligibility - Students must be a Tennessee resident; graduate from eligible high school, complete high school as a home school student or obtain a GED® or HiSET® diploma, provided that the GED® or HiSET® is obtained prior to the student reaching nineteen (19) years of age; attend full time in the fall term immediately following high school graduation at an eligible postsecondary institution which includes the Tennessee Community Colleges; maintain continuous enrollment as a full time student unless granted a medical or personal leave of absence (More information about this is available from the Director of Financial Aid,); maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 as determined by the institution at the end of each academic year if enrolled in an associate degree program; comply with U.S. Selective Service System requirements for registration; be in compliance with federal drug-free rules and laws for receiving financial assistance; not be in default on a federal Title IV or Tennessee educational loan; not owe a refund on a federal Title IV or a Tennessee student financial aid program; and not be incarcerated. The scholarship is limited to five (5) semesters total.
Prior to initial fall enrollment, students must attend one mandatory meeting with the partnering organization related to financial aid, FAFSA completion, and the college application process. Students must attend a second mandatory meeting related to college orientation with the partnering organization. Participants must complete a minimum of eight (8) hours of community service prior to each semester while participating in the Tennessee Promise Scholarship program (More information is available from the Partnering Organization on the service requirement.)
Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant - The Dual Enrollment Grant program provides opportunities for students to begin working toward a college degree, while still pursuing a high school diploma, and encourages post-secondary education and the acceleration of post-secondary attainment. To participate in the Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant program, a student must meet the College's admissions criteria for Dual Enrollment and be enrolled for college courses leading toward a credential for which they also earn high school credit. A student must also be a Tennessee resident, (as defined by Chapter 0240-2-2, Classifying Students In-State and Out-of-State, and promulgated by the Tennessee Board of Regents,) for one year prior to from the date of required grant submission which is September 15 for the fall semester, February 1 for the spring semester, and May 1 for the summer semester. 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, the award shall processed. 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. For more information, contact Enrollment Services.
Tennessee Adult Reconnect - Community College Reconnect Grant is a Tennessee Education Lottery Program that provides last-dollar scholarships for adults with prior postsecondary credit to return to college and complete an associate's degree. The Grant covers the cost of tuition and mandatory fees after all gift aid. Applicants must file a FAFSA or renewal FAFSA each year and have earned a minimum of 30 hours prior to enrollment as a Reconnect student applicable to the associate degree the student is pursuing. Students must enroll in a minimum of 6 credit hours in any semester. Awards are made on a first come, first served basis determined by Columbia State Community College as the FAFSA completed date and acceptance to the college. Recipients must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress each semester with a recommended priority of 2.0 GPA. All courses taken must apply toward the chosen program of study and will be verified.
Institutional Funded Financial Aid Programs
Institutional Work - This program is designed to assist students who do not qualify for Federal Work Study (FWS). Eligibility and available funds determine the number of hours per week a student may work. To be eligible for this program, a student must be making satisfactory academic progress. Students earn an hourly rate (determined each year). Institutional work payroll occurs monthly. Timesheets are due from the supervisors to the Business Office by the 15th of each month. Funds are directly deposited into the student's bank account on the last working day of each month. Applications are available on the Columbia State financial aid website. All institutional work students are expected to work in accordance with the schedule set by their supervisor excluding the student's class schedule. Failure to perform suitable work will result in loss of employment.
Scholarships - Columbia State Community College students have access to a variety of institutional, foundation and private scholarships through the generosity of the college community. Generally, the criteria for awarding scholarships are based on academic ability or financial need and are primarily awarded by the College Financial Aid Scholarship Committee.
To be considered for a Columbia State scholarship, a student must:
- Have made application to Columbia State Community College.
- Have a complete FAFSA on file for need-based scholarships.
- Have scholarship application submitted to the Financial Aid Office by March 15 priority deadline.
- Graduating high school seniors must have the academic portion of the scholarship application completed by a high school guidance counselor and the application submitted to the Financial Aid Office by March 15.
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 by March 15. The scholarships are not applicable for the summer term.
Academic Service Scholarships are based on 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 must work 75 hours each semester on campus.
Academic Service Scholarships are not automatically renewed. Recipients must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 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.
Opportunity Scholarships - The concept of diversity is important to the overall educational process at Columbia State Community College. The purpose of the Opportunity Scholarship is to provide opportunity for disadvantaged students and enhance institutional diversity. Awards are based on financial need and available funds. Scholarships will be awarded to cover tuition and mandatory fees for a limited number of part-time and full-time students. The scholarship is renewable contingent upon funding and maintaining a 2.0 GPA each semester.
In order to qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship a student must meet all of the following qualifications: Be a citizen or legal resident of the U.S.; have a minimum high school GPA (Grade Point Average) of 2.0 or a minimum score of 450 on the GED (this does not apply to continuing students who were enrolled last semester); apply for admission to Columbia State Community College (this does not apply to continuing students who were enrolled last semester) and be a degree seeking student with the intent to enroll for both fall and spring semester; do not have a bachelor's degree; and file for federal student aid (complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the renewal FAFSA form. Applicants should meet one of the following additional criteria: be a member of an under-represented ethnic population; be a first generation college student (neither parent or legal guardian has a bachelor's degree); qualify for federal Pell Grant funds; and be a member of other Access and Diversity sub populations as defined and approved by the administration.
Foundation Scholarships - These private scholarships, available through the Columbia State Foundation, are made possible through the generosity of individuals, businesses and organizations. Awards are based on donor and Foundation criteria and funding. Scholarship application must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by March 15 priority deadline.
Persons interested in establishing a scholarship or supporting the College's educational endeavors should contact the Advancement Office at 931.540.2512.
Private Scholarships - Recipients of these scholarships are determined by the donors; such as churches, places of employment and some civic organizations. Contact should be made directly with those organizations for information.
Athletic Scholarships - These scholarships are available to students who qualify to participate in intercollegiate athletics. These scholarships vary in amounts, and eligibility is determined by the Athletic Department.
Additional Financial Aid Information
Reporting Aid Received From Sources Other Than Columbia State
Students receiving outside aid such as loans, grants, or scholarships from private organizations or governmental agencies must report the source and amount of outside financial assistance. Federal regulations require the Financial Aid Office to adjust a student's award package as to not exceed the student's need. Students who knowingly withhold such information from the Financial Aid office are subject to termination of their financial aid and repayment to the federal government for any excess aid.
In an effort to curb abuse and fraud with the federal aid programs and to ensure correct awarding of funds, the federal government randomly selects students for a process called verification. If a student is selected for verification, the Financial Aid Office must request documents to substantiate information reported on the student's FAFSA. Items subject to verification include, but are not limited to, adjusted gross income, nontaxable income, interest income, asset amounts, number in household, and number in post-secondary institutions.
The selected student must provide certain documents such as IRS Tax Return Transcripts, or W-2, or other online forms may be requested. Students selected for verification must complete all required procedures by the end of the academic year or end of their enrollment period or by June 30, whichever comes first. No financial aid funds can be disbursed until all verification requirements are filed met and processed.
Selective Service Registration is required to receive Title IV federal aid funds. Any student who is required to register with Selective Service and fails to do so will be ineligible for student financial aid provided through programs established under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
Students may be eligible for an adjustment to their aid package if their family's financial circumstances change due to death, disability, long-term unemployment, and/or excessive medical or dental expenses. Applications are available by emailing email@example.com.
Awarding of Financial Aid
Student financial aid awards vary depending upon the student's eligibility, financial need, and available funds. The process of packaging the different kinds of financial aid is based on the total need analysis and aid determination cycle. The financial aid program is structured to ensure fair and equitable awards.
Payment of Awards and Refunds
Financial aid disbursements are credited to the student's account after the census date or 14th day of classes. Refund dates for each semester appear on the Financial Aid website.
Institutional Fees and Refunds
See previous section, Institutional Fees and Refunds .
Financial Aid is not available for students who:
- Are pursuing a short-term or institutional certificate (less than 16 credit hours).
- Are non-degree seeking.
- Are auditing classes.
- Are undergraduate special students.
- Are adult special students.
- Are transient students (except in the case of some HOPE recipients).
Student Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
As student financial aid consumers, students have the right to:
- Be informed about financial aid application procedures, cost of attendance, aid available and renewal requirements. Additional consumer information is available from the Financial Aid Office upon request.
- Confidential protection of financial aid records. The contents of financial aid files are maintained in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
- Appeal decisions made by the financial aid staff at Columbia State. A written appeal must be submitted to the Director of Financial Aid.
As student financial aid consumer, students have the responsibility to:
- Complete applications correctly and on time.
- Read and understand all materials sent to you from the Financial Aid Office and other financial aid agencies; keep copies of all forms and materials submitted.
- Know and comply with the rules governing your aid programs.
- Comply with the provisions of any promissory note and all other agreements you sign.
- Register for the number of credit hours required and maintain satisfactory academic progress.
- Request personal assistance if you have questions or don't understand the information provided to you.
In compliance with federal regulations pertaining to the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act, all prospective and currently enrolled students have access to institutional information regarding campus safety and security, crime statistics, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act provisions, financial aid programs and policies, retention and graduation data, and other topics. Information is available on the Columbia State website at www.columbiastate.edu/consumer-information, in the Student Handbook, or from the vice president for student affairs.
Homeless Student Liaison
In the 2019 Legislative Session, House Bill 1000/Senate Bill 763 (now Public Chapter 266) was passed. In summary, this bill requires degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions to designate a staff member (employed in the financial aid office or another appropriate office) to serve as a homeless-student liaison to assist homeless students who are enrolled, or planning to enroll, in the institution. This liaison is responsible for understanding the provisions pertaining to financial aid eligibility of homeless students and identifying services available and appropriate for students. This act took effect July 1, 2019.
Homeless Student Liaison:
Melissa Febbroriello, LCSW
Counselor and Case Manager
Columbia Campus: JSC 142
How to Contact the Financial Aid Office
For questions or assistance in applying for financial aid, please contact: Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Jones Student Center Columbia campus, Room 103, phone 931.540.8267, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by visit to the front office of any other Columbia State campus.