The Office of Financial Aid assists qualified applicants who, without assistance, would otherwise be unable to pursue an advanced degree. 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, housing, 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.
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 Status: 6 or more semester hours
Half-time Status: 3 semester hours
Required enrollment status for federal direct loans is half-time. A non-degree student is not eligible for financial aid.
Federal Direct Loan - A Federal Direct Loan (FDL) is available to eligible borrowers. Interest accrues on the unsubsidized loan while the student is enrolled. The borrower may opt to pay the interest as it accrues or allow it to accrue and capitalize. The unsubsidized loan is a non-need based loan program. The maximum Federal Direct Loan per academic year is $10,250 per semester for an eligible degree-seeking graduate student. An international student attending on an F-1 visa or an international student outside the U.S. enrolled in a distance education program are not eligible to borrow a Federal Direct Loan.
Federal PLUS Loan for Graduate Students - A degree-seeking graduate student may be eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program, up to the cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance in the Federal Direct loan (FDL) program. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans. The requirements include a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history. Repayment begins 60 days after the date of graduation, withdrawal, or enrollment status below half-time. The student must have applied for the annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program before applying for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan. An international student attending on an F-1 visa or an international student outside the U.S. enrolled in a distance education program is not eligible to borrow a Federal PLUS Loan for Graduate Students.
Other Programs - 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
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 financial aid.
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 hours from another institution that are accepted toward a program of study are counted as both attempted semester hours and earned semester hours 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.
Semester hours for a grade of Incomplete (I) are counted in the total attempted semester hours in the program pursuit calculation of satisfactory academic progress for Title IV, HEA student assistance program purposes.
Semester hours for a Withdrawal grade (W) are considered attempted semester hours 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 semester hours 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 3.00 or higher is in satisfactory academic standing. If a student has a cumulative grade point average below 3.00 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 semester hours attempted to continue to receive Title IV, HEA student financial aid program assistance. More simply stated, program pursuit requirements for a normal 2-year, 6 semester programs consisting of 36 semester hours must be completed successfully within 3 years (i.e., 9 semesters, 54 semester hours) to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid program assistance throughout the program of study.
The quantitative measure of satisfactory academic progress is measured using the following calculation:
Total Earned Semester Hours ÷ Total Attempted Semester Hours = a percentage (%)
Students must complete their degree within 150% of the number of credits necessary to complete the educational program. As a result, students are required to be earning a minimum of 67% of their total cumulative attempted credits at the end of each payment period to remain in good satisfactory academic progress standing.
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.
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 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. 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.