2020-2021 Undergraduate/Online Catalog 
    
    Sep 23, 2020  
2020-2021 Undergraduate/Online Catalog

Online Degree Programs Student Financial Aid Programs and Policies



The Office of Financial Aid assists qualified applicants who, without assistance, would otherwise be unable to pursue a post-secondary education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and resulting need analysis is used to apply for federal and state consideration for payment of tuition, or other charges.

A student must apply each year to renew financial aid eligibility. The amount of financial aid awarded will reflect changes in tuition, or other costs and updates to the financial profile of the student.

All students are encouraged to apply for federal and state grant program funding to determine the student's eligibility. A student seeking federal or state financial aid program assistance is required to contact the Office of Financial Aid at least 30 days prior to the start of a session to complete the application process, submit all required documents and materials requested, and finalize a financial assistance plan by the end of the Add/Drop Period. A student whose financial assistance plan is not finalized by the end of the Add/Drop Period will not be allowed to attend class.

Financial aid awards are based on the enrollment status of the student during a semester as of the conclusion of the Add/Drop Period, defined as:

Full-time 12 or more semester hours
Three-quarter time 9 through 11 semester hours
Half-time 6 through 8 semester hours
Less than half-time 1 through 5 semester hours

Required enrollment status for federal, state and university financial aid awards:

Program Full-time Half-time Less than Half-time
Pell Grant Yes Yes Yes
FSEOG Yes Yes Yes
Direct Loan Yes Yes Not eligible
PA State Grant Yes Yes Not eligible

A non-degree or non-credit student is not eligible for financial aid.

Progress toward a Degree

A student is classified based upon the number of credits completed and reported to the Office of Records and Registration. The classification is based on credits completed, not attempted, and does not include courses for which one of the following grades has been assigned: "I", "IP", "NR" or "F".

First Year fewer than 24 credits earned
Second Year greater than or equal to 24 credits earned but less than 60
Third Year greater than or equal to 60 credits earned but less than 90
Fourth Year greater than or equal to 90 credits earned

Aid Sources

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is awarded based on a federal formula using the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Awards for a full-time student vary from $639 - $6,345 for the 2020-2021 academic year, depending on financial need.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

A limited amount of funds from the SEOG program are available to supplement a Pell-eligible student with exceptional need. Awards vary depending on need and fund availability.

Federal Direct Loan

There are two types of Federal Direct Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. The subsidized loan is interest-free while the student is in school, and is awarded based on financial need. Interest accrues on the unsubsidized loan while the student is enrolled in school. The borrower may opt to pay it as it accrues or allow it to accrue and capitalize. The unsubsidized loan is a non-need based loan program.

The maximum subsidized Direct Loan per academic year is $3,500 for first-year students, $4,500 for second-year students, and $5,500 for third-year students and beyond. A dependent student may borrow an additional $2,000 unsubsidized per year. An independent student may borrow an additional $6,000 unsubsidized loan per year as a first-year and second-year student, and an additional $7,000 per year as a third-year student and beyond.

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) State Grants & Special Programs

PHEAA State Grants are awarded to eligible Pennsylvania residents based on need. Estimated awards will vary from $250 to $3,688* for the 2020-2021 academic year. A student applies for the State Grant by completing the FAFSA. Renewal applicants must apply before PHEAA's May 1 deadline. Information from the FAFSA is automatically submitted to PHEAA. After the initial application is filed, students should respond directly to the PHEAA Grant Division if additional information is required to process the state grant award. *as of March 2020.

Other special programs are offered to eligible applicants as determined by PHEAA. An official high school transcript, or equivalent, is required to evaluate an applicant's eligibility for these programs.

Other Programs

An eligible student can seek part-time employment either on-campus or in community service positions off-campus. A student may work up to 20 hours per week during a semester and up to 35 hours per week when classes are not in session.

The following federal, state or private financial aid sources are available to a student based upon the individual's affiliations or experiences.

Veterans Administration Education Benefits
Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Job Training Agencies
Employer Sponsorship

Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Recipients

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for federal Title IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) student financial aid program assistance is defined as the minimum progress required toward the completion of a degree and must be maintained in order to receive federal and institutional financial aid. The Pennsylvania State Grant Program, administered through PHEAA, has different criteria to determine academic progress.

Federal regulations require the University to establish standards of academic progress in both of the following areas:

  • the student's cumulative grade point average, the qualitative measure; and,
  • the maximum time limit for completing the program of study, the quantitative measure.

Satisfactory academic progress is evaluated at the end of each semester. Financial aid recipients must maintain the standards in both areas, regardless of whether aid was received in the past. A student who does not meet one or both of the standards is not making satisfactory progress until the standards are met.

A student who is academically eligible to continue enrollment at the University, but does not meet the standards of academic progress, may remain enrolled without financial aid until eligibility to receive financial aid is reestablished. A student should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss strategies for meeting the standards and to inquire about options for financial assistance that are not subject to the satisfactory academic progress requirements.

Transfer credit from another institution that are accepted toward a program of study are counted as both attempted credits and earned credits in the program pursuit calculation to determine satisfactory academic progress for Title IV, HEA student assistance program purposes. Grades for transfer credit hours are not included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.

Credits for a grade of Incomplete (I) are counted in the total attempted credits in the program pursuit calculation of satisfactory academic progress for Title IV, HEA student assistance program purposes.

Credits for a Withdrawal grade (W) are considered attempted credits in the calculations of satisfactory academic progress for Title IV, HEA student assistance program purposes.

When a course is repeated, the attempted credit hours are used to determine the student's enrollment status for the semester (i.e., full-time, half-time, less-than-half-time), but the repeated hours are not counted a second time as attempted credit hours in the cumulative grade point average calculation. Earned credits and quality points for a grade used in the cumulative grade point average calculation for a course repeat are taken from the most recent grade.

Academic Standing and Financial Aid Eligibility (qualitative)

A student with a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or higher is in satisfactory academic standing. If a student has a cumulative grade point average below 2.00 at the end of a semester, the student has failed to meet the minimum satisfactory academic progress standard and is subject to the warning, probation or dismissal sanction, as applicable, as stated below.

After the initial semester, if at any time the cumulative grade point average falls below 1.00 the University reserves the right to dismiss the student.

Program Pursuit - Maximum Timeframe for Completing the Program of Study (quantitative)

A full-time student must successfully complete a program of study within one- and one-half times the normal time frame in credits attempted to continue to receive Title IV, HEA student financial aid program assistance. More simply stated, program pursuit requirements for a normal 4-year, 8 semester programs consisting of 120 credits must be completed successfully within 6 years (i.e., 12 semesters, 180 credits) to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid program assistance throughout the program of study.

A student who is enrolled less than full-time will have the policy applied on a pro-rata basis in accordance with enrollment status.

The quantitative measure of satisfactory academic progress is measured using the following calculation:

Total Earned Credits ÷ Total Attempted Credits = a percentage (%)

The calculated percentage each semester is compared to the following chart to determine if the student has achieved satisfactory academic standing:

Semester Minimum Percentage of Earned Credit Hours Required
1 25%
2 40%
3 40%
4 50%
5 50%
6 60%
7 60%
8 75%
9 75%
10 85%
11 85%
12 100%

This chart shows the need to complete an average of credits each semester to complete a full-time 120 credit degree program of study within one- and one-half times the normal time frame:

Normal Time Frame Number of Semesters Avg. # of Credits Per Semester Maximum Attempted Sem. Hrs. Maximum Number of Semesters Avg. # of credits Must Be Completed Per Semester
Degree Programs:
120 semester hours
8 15 180 12 10

Failure to Meet One of the Required Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

A student who fails to meet either the qualitative or quantitative measure of satisfactory academic progress at the end of a semester is subject to the following policy:

First Occurrence - Warning

Following the first semester in which the student does not meet the satisfactory academic progress standard, the student will automatically be placed in a financial aid warning status for the next semester. A letter will be issued advising the student of their financial aid warning status. No appeal is needed, but in coordination with the Office of Student Services, an academic plan may be required. The student remains eligible for financial aid program assistance during the warning semester.

Second Consecutive Occurrence - Probation

If, by the end of the warning semester, the student is not able to achieve satisfactory academic progress status, the student will not be able to receive financial aid for the next period of enrollment unless the student successfully appeals. A letter will be issued advising the student of their financial aid status, the effect of this status on the student's financial aid eligibility, and the steps the student must take to submit an appeal. If the appeal is approved, the student will be placed in a financial aid probation status for the next semester and will be eligible for financial aid during that semester. An academic plan will also be required during this semester.

Appeals

A student who becomes ineligible to participate in the financial aid programs as a result of failure to meet satisfactory academic progress after the warning semester, may file an appeal by submitting a letter outlining the nature of the appeal to the Financial Aid Office. An appeal will be considered only if the student's failure to meet the standards of academic progress is determined to be due to events beyond the student's control. Examples of circumstances for which an appeal may be considered include military obligation; death of a relative; injury or illness of the student; unusual personal hardship or other extenuating circumstance. Written documentation of the circumstances of why the student failed to make satisfactory progress and what has changed that will allow the student to make satisfactory progress by the next evaluation must be submitted with the appeal and should reference the student's name and student ID number. In addition, evidence must be received documenting that the required academic plan was completed, the cumulative grade point average has improved, and the required satisfactory progress grade point average can potentially be achieved to complete a program of study within the maximum timeframe limitation. Appeals submitted without documentation will not be considered. A timely determination will then be made and documented in the student's file.

If the financial aid appeal is denied, a second notice will be sent to the student advising them of the denial. If the appeal is approved, a semester of financial aid probation will be awarded. The student will be notified in writing their appeal was approved. The student must achieve satisfactory academic progress by the end of the financial aid probation semester.

If after the financial aid probation semester a student is still not making satisfactory academic progress, but is meeting the requirements of the academic plan, the student is eligible to continue to receive financial aid as long as the student continues to meet those requirements and is reviewed according to the requirements specified in the academic plan. A student becomes ineligible to receive federal funds when the student does not meet the requirements of the academic plan.

Academic Standing and Satisfactory Academic Progress Review and Notification

The University evaluates academic standing and satisfactory academic progress at the end of each semester. All students who receive federal and state financial aid must meet the standards for satisfactory academic progress in order to establish and retain student financial aid program eligibility. The University may establish academic policies that may be different than the policies governing academic warning, probation, and dismissal for institutional grant and scholarship aid and state student assistance program purposes. Written notification of financial aid ineligibility is mailed to a student at the most recently reported permanent address.

Re-establishing Eligibility for Federal Student Assistance Programs

Following a dismissal action, a student may re-establish eligibility by earning course credit successfully at another institution that will directly transfer into the University's program of study and the required cumulative grade point average and maximum timeframe percentage for minimum satisfactory progress is achieved by the transfer credit and grades accepted.