Accept Your Aid

After receiving your TC award letter, it is necessary for you to indicate which types of financial aid you want to accept. Below are instructions for accepting your financial aid.

CURRENT STUDENTS & SPRING 2017 ADMITS: You may begin accepting your aid now.

SUMMER 2017 ADMITS: You may begin accepting your aid in late April 2017.

CONTINUING STUDENTS ATTENDING IN SUMMER 2017: Please complete our summer aid application in late April if you wish to be considered for loan funding during Summer A and/or Summer B.

CONTINUING STUDENTS & FALL 2017 ADMITS: You may begin accepting your aid in late July 2017.

Accepting the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

STEP 1: Accept the desired amount for the year in the TC Portal.

1a: Log into your TC Portal using your University Network Identification (UNI). For new students, your UNI will be issued upon payment of the $300 tuition deposit.

1b: Click on the "Courses" tab and scroll down to "Financial Aid Awards."

1c: Once you are in "Financial Aid Awards," you will need to:

  • Select your academic year of enrollment from the drop down menu and click “Submit.” Note that Spring 2017 is the second term of the 2016-2017 academic year.

  • View the "Accept Award Offer" tab.
  • You will see a drop-down menu next to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Your choices are to accept or decline the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. If you plan to accept the full amount of this loan, you can select "Accept" and then click the "Submit Decision" button; you may also type in the full amount of the loan you've been offered. If you only plan to accept a partial amount of the loan, you are able to choose "Accept" and manually enter the desired amount in the corresponding text box. Note that the amount you accept will be split evenly between the terms in which you are enrolled.

Note: After you have accepted the amount of your Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, you will not be able to make any changes in the TC Portal. All changes must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid by completing a Federal Aid Change Form specific to the year that you are making changes.

STEP 2: Complete the Entrance Counseling at studentloans.gov.

Students who have borrowed federal loans at TC in a previous aid year can skip this step. Only one entrance counseling session is required for both the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford and Graduate PLUS Loans. The completed session will automatically renew from year to year, so this step does not need to be repeated. When you submit the completed counseling session, be sure to enter TC's School Code (G03979), not the code for Columbia University. View the navigation bar on the main studentloans.gov page to find the link for entrance counseling. It will appear as "Complete Loan Counseling."

STEP 3: Complete the Federal Stafford Electronic Master Promissory Note (E-MPN). This will appear on studentloans.gov as "Subsidized/Unsubdized MPN."

Students who have borrowed the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan at TC within the last 10 years can skip this step. First-time Stafford Loan borrowers at TC will need to complete a Federal Stafford E-MPN at studentloans.gov. Once completed/satisfied, this requirement will automatically renew itself for up to ten years. When you submit the completed counseling session, be sure to enter TC's School Code (G03979), not the code for Columbia University. View the navigation bar on the main studentloans.gov page to find the link to complete your E-MPN. It will appear as "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)."

STEP 4: Allow several business days for your loan requirements to show up as completed in your TC Portal.

Accepting the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Note: If you have been offered the Graduate PLUS Loan, you are required to accept the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan before you accept the Graduate PLUS Loan. You CANNOT accept the PLUS Loan on the TC Portal because it requires an approved credit check. See below for instructions.

STEP 1: Complete the Graduate PLUS Loan Credit Check/Request a Direct PLUS Loan. Continuing students must complete this for the new aid year, regardless of whether or not they have an unexpired credit check on file from the previous year.

1a: Log in to studentloans.gov. Click on the "Apply for a PLUS Loan" link.

1b: On the next page, select the type of Direct PLUS Loan Request you would like to complete. Teachers College students should only complete the PLUS Request for Graduate/Professional Studies. Do not select the Parent Borrowers option.

1c: Select 2016-2017 as your award year, authorize the school to use your Direct PLUS Loan to pay for educational charges, and then select Teachers College as your school. It is imperative that you choose Teachers College and not Columbia University in the City of New York. 

Indicate the exact amount you wish to borrow for the year, keeping in mind that it will be disbursed in halves (half in the Fall, half in the Spring). You may also choose to borrow the maximum amount by clicking the button next to the statement, “I want to borrow the maximum Direct PLUS Loan amount for which I am eligible, as determined by the school.”

The standard loan period for spring-only students will be January 2017 to May 2017. Students planning to enroll in spring and summer will need to select January 2017 to August 2017.

1d: Proceed through the remaining steps and verify that all information, including your address, is correct. At the end of this process, you will receive an immediate credit decision. You must be "Credit Approved" before we can process your Graduate PLUS Loan request. Additionally, the credit check is required for every new academic year AND for any changes to the PLUS Loan amount during a given academic year if the credit check is expired at that time. The PLUS Loan credit check expires after 180 days. We typically receive confirmation of the credit approval within 24-48 hours.

STEP 2: Complete the Federal Graduate PLUS Electronic Master Promissory Note (E-MPN).

Students who have borrowed the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at TC within the last 10 years and have not had their credit denied can skip this step. First-time PLUS Loan borrowers at TC will need to complete a Federal Graduate PLUS E-MPN at studentloans.gov. Once completed/satisfied, this requirement will renew itself for up to ten years. When you submit the completed counseling session, be sure to enter TC's School Code (G03979), not the code for Columbia University. View the navigation bar on the main studentloans.gov page to find the link to complete your E-MPN. It will appear as "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)."

Once you have completed the steps above for your PLUS Loan, the Office of Financial Aid will receive your credit decision from the U.S. Department of Education within 24-48 hours. If approved, your Graduate PLUS Loan status will change from "Offered" to "Accepted." If you are denied, the status will change to "Deny." The loan status will be changed by the Office of Financial Aid.

Making Changes to your Graduate PLUS Loan: All changes (increase, decrease, or decline) must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid by completing a Federal Aid Change Form specific to the year that you are making changes.

Graduate PLUS Loan Denials

If you are denied the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan due to an adverse credit history, you may either (1) obtain an endorser, or (2) choose to document extenuating circumstances relating to the reason you were declined. Read the following information to learn how to gain access to a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. You may also contact Applicant Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, at 1-800-557-7394 to discuss denials, appeals, and endorsers. Note: As of March 2015, any student who is denied the Graduate PLUS Loan and chooses to appeal the denial or secure an endorser will also need to complete a Graduate PLUS Loan-specific financial counseling module on studentloans.gov before the loan can be disbursed.

Option 1: Obtain an Endorser

An endorser is someone who does not have an adverse credit history and agrees to repay the loan if you do not/cannot repay. If you choose to obtain an endorser, the individual will complete the following steps:

  • Endorse the loan on the secure studentloans.gov website by clicking “Endorse a Direct PLUS Loan” after logging in using his or her Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. Directions on establishing a FSA ID can be found by clicking here.

  • To complete the endorsement online, the endorser will need the Loan Reference Number (which will be generated after you complete a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request) and a FSA ID. If you completed a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request, the Loan Reference Number may be found in the confirmation email you received. You may also find the Loan Reference Number by logging onto the studentloans.gov website and selecting "Direct PLUS Loan Requests" on the left navigation bar.

  • If you use an endorser and need to request additional Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan funding at a later date, the endorser must complete an addendum for the additional amount on studentloans.gov. The student must also complete a new Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note on studentloans.gov and submit a Federal Aid Change Form to the TC Office of Financial Aid documenting the increase.

Option 2: Document Extenuating Circumstances

You may provide satisfactory documentation to the U.S. Department of Education showing that the information causing the adverse credit decision is incorrect or has been corrected. You may also provide documentation to show that there are extenuating circumstances relating to the adverse credit history. (Note: Endorsers aren't eligible for this option.) After you submit your request to document extenuating circumstances, Applicant Services will contact you. After all documentation has been received, a determination will be made and provided to you within 7-10 business days.

You may begin the process of submitting this documentation in one of two ways:

  • Log in to studentloans.gov and select "Document Extenuating Circumstances" on the left navigation bar. Follow directions. Applicant Services will contact you with further instructions.

  • Contact Applicant Services between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Applicant Services may be reached toll-free at 1-800-557-7394.

StudentAid.gov provides in-depth information on federal student aid programs, applying for financial aid, and repaying student loans.

Accepting Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants and Stipends

Scholarship awards are automatically accepted for you. If you would like to change the distribution of scholarship points for the given terms within an academic year, you will need to submit a Scholarship Redistribution Form. You cannot transfer scholarship funds from one aid year to another.

Accepting the Federal TEACH Grant

You are able to accept or decline the TEACH Grant in the TC Portal using the corresponding drop-down menu. Note that the TEACH Grant amount is subject to final approval after the add/drop period ends for the given term. You are able to complete the TEACH Grant requirements, including the Agreement to Serve (ATS), now, but note that this fund will not disburse until after the add/drop period is over. Click here to complete the TEACH Grant ATS and TEACH Grant entrance counseling.

Accepting Federal-Work Study (FWS)

To accept your FWS funding, you must obtain a FWS position. Note that FWS positions are not automatically provided. Currently enrolled students are able to search for positions now as long as they have been awarded FWS. Review available positions on the TC Human Resources website. If you wish to decline your FWS funding, you can complete a Federal Aid Change Form for the year you wish to decline FWS.

Returning Federal Loan Funds

Before Disbursement: Students can cancel all or part of their federal loan(s) before the loan money is disbursed by submitting the aid-year appropriate Federal Aid Change Form.

After Disbursement: Students can cancel all or part of their federal loan(s) by submitting the Return of Loan Funds Form (available in paper format only) to the Office of Financial Aid. This form must be completed in person within 14 days of the funds being credited to a student's account. If a refund is already paid to the student, the student must credit the amount to be returned back to the Office of the Bursar before coming to the Office of Financial Aid to complete the form.

Refund Checks

If loans have been processed and disbursed successfully, refund checks will be issued to students by the Office of the Bursar after the add/drop period. All questions related to refund checks must be directed to the Office of the Bursar. Also consider browsing our page of Frequently Asked Questions.

Important policy regarding the return of Title IV funding: This policy applies to students who complete 60% or less of the enrollment period (i.e., Fall, Spring or Summer session) for which they received Federal Title IV aid. A student who drops a class but still completes one or more classes does not qualify for the Return of Title IV Funds policy. The term “Title IV aid” refers to the following Federal financial aid programs: Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal Perkins loans, Federal Grad PLUS loans, and Federal TEACH Grant.

To conform with the policy, Teachers College must determine the student’s withdrawal date. The withdrawal date is defined as: 1. the date the student began the withdrawal process or officially notified Teachers College of their intent to withdraw; or 2. the last date of attendance at an academically-related activity by a student who doesn’t notify Teachers College. The calculation required determines a student’s earned and unearned Title IV aid based on the percentage of the enrollment period completed by the student. The percentage of the period that the student remained enrolled is derived by dividing the number of days the student attended by the number of days in the period. Calendar days (including weekends) are used, but breaks of at least 5 days are excluded from both the numerator and denominator.

Until a student has passed the 60% point of an enrollment period, only a portion of the student’s aid has been earned. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60% point is considered to have earned all awarded aid for the enrollment period. Earned aid is not related in any way to institutional charges. In addition, the College’s refund policy and Return of Title IV Funds procedures are independent of one another. A student who withdraws from a course may be required to return unearned aid and still owe the college for the course. For more information on the Teachers College withdrawal and institutional charges’ policies, please consult the Teachers College catalog.

Federal Loan Disbursement

  • Your funds will first disburse to your TC student account to pay your outstanding charges. The first day of scholarship disbursement will be the first day of class each term, while federal loans will not disburse until after the add/drop period ends for each given term. If you are entitled to a refund check, it will be distributed after the end of the add/drop period for that term. Contact the Office of the Bursar to learn more. The Office of Financial Aid does not process refund checks.
  • You must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to use federal financial aid of any kind.
  • Loans always disburse in halves. The first disbursement occurs after the start of classes in the Fall, while the second disbursement happens after the start of classes in the Spring.

  • If you are a single-term student, your aid will still disburse in halves. It will disburse at the beginning of the semester and in the middle of the semester.

  • Summer students will see two disbursements during the summer term(s). If you plan to attend in the summer, visit our office in late April to request financial aid for Summer A or B.

  • Scholarships will disburse in two halves unless you file a Scholarship Redistribution Form to change the award portions.

  • You must be enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours per term to receive your loans. You must also meet all other requirements needed to maintain federal aid eligibility. Students who were enrolled in six or more credit hours in the Fall and did not accept federal loans but now wish to accept them for the Spring term should contact our office to learn more about how your loans will disburse.

  • One Loan Entrance Counseling session will cover you for both the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Graduate PLUS Loan.

  • Be aware that there are origination fees associated with your loans. These funds will already be taken out by the U.S. Department of Education before your aid disburses to your student account.

  • Any increases or decreases that you need to make to your loans after accepting them must be communicated to our office by filling out and submitting the Federal Aid Change Form.

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