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Eligibility Requirement

Who can apply for FAFSA for 2021-22 award year?

Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, regardless of income, provided that you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Are not in default on a federal loan or owe money on a federal grant
  • Are registered with the Selective Service, if you are a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in school


Many non-U.S. citizens qualify for federal student aid.
If you fall in one of the categories below, you are considered an “eligible noncitizen.”

  1. You are a
    • U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or
    • U.S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.
  2. You have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing
    • “Refugee,”
    • “Asylum Granted,”
    • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending),”
    • “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980), or
    • “Parolee” (you must be paroled for at least one year and your status has not expired)
    • You hold a T-visa (for victims of human trafficking) or your parent holds a T-1 visa.
    • You are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are the child of a person designated as such under the Violence against Women Act.
    • You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau.

Many non-U.S. citizens do not qualify for federal student aid.
If you fall into one of the categories below, you are not eligible for federal student aid.

  • F-1, F-2 student visa
  • J-1, or J2 exchange visitor visa
  • B-1 or B-2 visitor visa
  • G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)
  • H series or L series visa (allowing temporary employment in the U.S.)
  • “Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent residence” (I-171 or I-464)
  • I-94 stamped “ Temporary Protected Status” (TPS)

Selective Service

Almost all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they reside, and non-citizens living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required by Federal law to register with the Selective Service. The failure to register with Selective Service may forfeit your eligibility for financial aid. You can register for the Selective Service by selecting the appropriate option on the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov or at the Selective Service registration website, www.sss.govMen exempted from the requirement to register include:

  • Males currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces
  • Males who are not yet 18 at the time that they complete their FAFSA application
  • Males born before 1960
  • Citizens of the Palau, the Republic of Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia
  • Noncitizens who first entered the U.S. after their 26th birthday
  • Noncitizens who entered the U.S. as lawful nonimmigrants on a valid visa AND remained in the U.S. on the terms of that visa until after their 26th birthday.

You may be requested to prove the reason that you have not registered with Selective Service. In that case, please complete and submit Selective Service Verification Form with any required documents to the Office of Financial Aid.

If you are male, over the age of 26 and are not registered with the Selective Service, then you must submit a Status Information Letter with all copies of any supporting information to the Selective Service System. This letter will either confirm that you were not required to register before the age of 26 or that you were required to register and failed to do so. This letter must include the reason why you failed to register. Then, you must submit the confirmation letter from the Selective Service System to the Office of Financial Aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal and state regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards toward earning their diploma or certificate in order to maintain their status and/or to be eligible for federally supported financial aid programs. It is a measurement of a student’s successful progress in his/her studies to fulfill the requirements expressed by the Higher Education Act (HEA) of the U.S. Department of Education. All students are measured by qualitative and quantitative standards.


Financial aid recipients must meet both a “qualitative” and a “quantitative” standard to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Students must maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average (GPA) to meet the qualitative standard.


Fulltime students who are enrolling in certificate programs must be enrolled in at least 18 credit hours per week. Students in associate degree programs are required to take 12 credits. The academic office and financial aid office carry out the monitoring process of SAP to determine whether students are making satisfactory academic progress. If a student fails to fulfill the minimum requirement of the SAP, a notification (warning letter, probation notice, dismissal notice) is issued from the academic office and the information is then forwarded to the financial aid office and each department director. The incremental evaluation time for SAP is at the end of each 10-week session, meaning satisfactory progress of a student is evaluated every ten weeks.
Students must meet the minimum SAP standard to remain in good standing toward their completion of the program. If a student does not meet the standard, he/she will be placed on the status which needs special advices and/or restrictions. Students who fail to attain the SAP can still enroll in the program and receive federal financial aid unless his/her status at Columbia College is terminated.
Any student who needs to miss a class for a medical reason must submit a doctor’s note describing the medical condition. Any student who fails to take a final test will not be able to move to the next level, regardless of his/her attendance rate and level of performance in classroom activities and assignments.


  • Maintain a minimum Grade Point Average of C (2.0) at all times
  • Complete at least 2/3 of required coursework
  • Complete program of study within 150% of published program length for the degree-seeking students, measured in attempted units (For example: a maximum of 90 attempted session units are allowed to complete an Associate or Transfer program of 60 required unit. A student becomes ineligible for further financial aid if they exceed 90 session units.
  • Complete program of study within regular published program length if they are an ESL student.


It is the student’s responsibility to monitor satisfactory academic progress as it relates to maintaining eligibility for financial aid. The Financial Aid Office assists with periodic measurement and notification to students who fail to meet these standards.
NOTE: The SAP Policy for financial aid recipients is different from the College’s satisfactory progress standards maintained by the Counseling Department that places students on academic warning, probation or suspension for failure to achieve a 2.0 grade point average.


Questions about Verification Forms?

Read more about FAFSA Verification Process on our Verification Page.

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Eligibility Infographic