Loan Application Materials

If you need to borrow to finance your education, we urge you to become familiar with the federal and private educational loan programs that are available for graduate and professional school students.

It is your responsibility to contact the loan provider for your federal and/or private educational loans, complete loan application(s) from the loan provider, and submit your completed application materials to the appropriate loan provider or, when applicable, to the Financial Aid Office for certification. Please be aware that students have the right and ability to select the education loan provider of their choice, are not required to use any of the University’s suggested lenders and will suffer no penalty for choosing a lender that is not a suggested lender. The University’s disclosure concerning lender selection is available online. It is recommended that U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens apply for federal loans before private/alternative loans because federal loans generally have better terms and conditions.

If you are applying for educational loans, you must contact your loan provider to complete an application. It is suggested that you apply online or by telephone. Please note: continuing students for whom the Columbia Law School Financial Aid Office certified a Federal Direct loan in a prior year do not need to submit a new MPN.

The following instructions provide important information regarding the processing of your federal student loans for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Federal Direct Stafford Loan

  • For the Federal Direct Stafford Loan, complete a Federal Direct Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) at the U.S. Department of Education website. You will need your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to submit the MPN electronically. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature.
  • Continuing students for whom the Columbia Law School Financial Aid Office certified a Federal Direct Stafford Loan in a prior year do not need to submit a new MPN.
  • All borrowers will need to submit a loan request form to the Law School Financial Aid Office.
  • Once our office has received the appropriate loan documents, we will certify your eligibility for the loan and will forward the certification to the Federal Direct Loan Program. 
  • All new borrowers at Columbia Law School must complete Entrance Counseling online at the U.S. Department of Education website.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

  • For Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, complete a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) at the U.S. Department of Education website. You will need your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to submit the MPN electronically. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature. 
  • Continuing students for whom the Columbia Law School Financial Aid Office certified a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan in a prior year do not need to submit a new MPN.
  • All borrowers will need to submit a loan request form to the Law School Financial Aid Office.
  • Once our office has received the appropriate loan documents, we will certify your eligibility for the loan and will forward the certification to the Direct Loan Program. 
  • All new borrowers at Columbia Law School must complete Entrance Counseling online at the U.S. Department of Education website.
  • Since Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are credit-based, you must reapply each year for this federal educational loan.
  • For more information, please refer to the Loan Approval section. 

Under the Direct Loan Program, your federal student loans will originate with the U.S. Department of Education. In order to access your information on the U.S. Department of Education’s website and process the required documents for your Federal Direct Loans, you will need your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records, so you should never share your FSA ID with anyone. 

Entrance Counseling

  • All new Columbia Law School borrowers who are borrowing through the Federal Direct Loan Program must complete online Entrance Counseling for the Federal Direct Loan Programs (Federal Direct Stafford, Graduate PLUS) at the U.S. Department of Education website
  • Your Entrance Counseling explains your rights and responsibilities as a federal student loan borrower.
  • Please note that your loan funds cannot be released without the completion of the online Entrance Counseling. 
  • You only need to do this once while you are enrolled at the Law School.

For private educational loans, applying online or by telephone will allow you to learn as early as possible if your credit application has been accepted, and we strongly encourage students seeking private educational loans to avail themselves of the quick approval process offered by many lenders. Once you have completed the loan application with your lender of choice, submit it to the Financial Aid Office for certification, or follow the lender’s instructions. For more information, please refer to the Loan Approval webpage. You must reapply each year for private educational loans.

Please be advised that the terms and conditions of Federal Direct student loans or assistance may be more beneficial than the terms and conditions of private educational loans. In particular, you should be aware that the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 contains a section (401) pertaining to Federal Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees. The federal loan forgiveness provisions require borrowers to have borrowed Direct Loans or to have consolidated their federal loans through the Federal Direct Consolidation Program. As such, we advise borrowers to carefully consider the available educational loan programs (Federal Direct Graduate PLUS versus private educational loans) to ensure that their individual loan borrowing fits into their long-term financial planning. While borrowing through private educational loan programs may provide better loan terms in the short term, it also may limit your options should you decide one day to use the Federal Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees program. While we encourage loan borrowers to refer to the detail of the Federal Program in determining all relevant issues, the Financial Aid Office is available to address individual concerns.

Other Lenders for International Students

Based solely upon historical borrowing data over the past few academic years, some international students may have been able to secure alternative private loans without a U.S. co-signer from the financial institutions listed on the Student Financial Services (SFS) website.

  • As a reminder, loan application materials should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by May 15 to ensure timely processing.
  • We cannot be responsible for delays in receiving funds if loan application materials are received late, or if loans cannot be certified because of missing documents.
  • In addition, students who need loan funds to pay their University bill are urged to complete their loan application materials early.
  • Penalties assessed by the University for late payment of the student bill will not be waived for students who complete their loan documents late.

For additional information regarding federal and private educational loan programs, please visit the Columbia University website. Please be aware that students who borrow private educational loans have the right and ability to select the lender of their choice, are not required to use any of the University's suggested lenders, and will suffer no penalty for choosing a lender that is not a suggested lender. To view the university’s disclosure concerning lender selection, please visit the Columbia University Loans Overview webpage.