Student Account Refunds

Student Account Refunds

Beginning of Semester Student Account Refunds

Most financial aid for the semester will begin disbursement on the first day of classes if all requirements for disbursement have been met. As a result, students can begin requesting student account refunds the first day of classes. The student account refund will be based on enrollment at that time and will be limited up to $5,000 or less depending on the actual credit on the student account. If there is a remaining credit on the account after this initial refund, an additional refund request can be submitted after the Change of Program Period has ended.

Refunds Defined

Student account refunds can occur when financial aid disbursements and/or personal payments exceed your cost of tuition and fees. When this occurs, students are entitled to a refund of that credit balance. Students can determine if such a credit exists and if they are eligible for a student account refund by reviewing the account detail section of their student account in SSOL.

Note: Anticipated activity (i.e. pending Pell Grant disbursement, etc.) listed on your student account detail will not count towards a refund. 

Refund Requests

All student account refund requests must be reviewed by the GS Office of Educational Financing. This is necessary to ensure that all financial aid is correct based on the enrollment of the student with the credit balance. If a refund were to be released before required adjustments were in place a student could very likely have a balance due to the school. Therefore even if a student were to request a refund through SSOL, GS must review each request.

While SSOL indicates a process for requesting the balance to be refunded, students should request the refund online at by submitting the Student Account Refund Request form.

While the submitting this form is the preferred method, students may also request a refund by emailing

Refund requests through SSOL might not be quickly forwarded to the GS Office of Educational Financing. Students are encouraged to follow the above instructions to assure timely processing of their student account refund requests.

Note: Students are not required to request a refund of a student account credit, and may decide to leave the credit on their student accounts.

Federal Student Aid Credit Balance (also known as Title IV refunds)

In certain circumstances when total federal financial aid (known as Title IV aid) exceeds tuition and fees (also known as allowable charges), the excess funds must be returned to the student even if the student does not request a student account refund. Students will be notified by Columbia University Student Financial Services when such a student account refund occurs.

Direct Deposit

Students are encouraged to have direct deposit as this avoids a paper check process, which builds in a lag time for receiving a refund. Students can register for direct deposit for student account refunds in SSOL.