All federal, state and University financial aid is based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA. If you want to be considered for financial aid, you must complete this form every year - even if you received financial aid in a previous year.
Keep this deadline in mind.
File your FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1. If you file by May 1, you will receive priority consideration for all federal financial aid programs available at Cal U. The federal processor must receive your FAFSA by May 1 if you would also like to be considered for state grants. Once you file a FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education will automatically send you an e-mail reminder when it's time to fill out the form for the upcoming school year. You can agree to let the FAFSA processors "pre-fill" your form with data from the previous year. That way, you will only need to update information that has changed since you last filed.
Completing the FAFSA
Follow these simple steps.
- Prior to filling out the FAFSA form, use the FAFSA4caster to estimate your eligibility for aid.
- Pick up a copy of the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet at our Financial Aid Office or download a copy at www.fafsa.gov .
- Complete the entire worksheet prior to completing the actual application. The questions are in the exact order that they appear on the official online application.
- Take the time to read the instructions carefully. Most questions can be answered through the instruction information contained on the form or at www.fafsa.gov. If you have more questions, feel free to contact the Cal U Financial Aid office by phone at 724-938-4415.
- Don't leave any blanks. If the answer is zero or the question doesn't apply, enter "0"
- Respond "yes" to the question asking if you are interested in work-study employment in order to be considered for student employment. A packet will be sent to you in August.
- Request a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov so that you can electronically sign your official FAFSA. Parents of dependent students also need a PIN to electronically sign the form. If you prefer, you can print a paper signature page from FAFSA on the Web, sign it and mail it to the address provided. Remember, if you are dependent, your parent also needs to sign, either electronically or on a hard copy.
- Use the answers from the worksheet to complete and submit your FAFSA on the Web.
- Be sure to list California University of Pennsylvania (school code number 003316) in order that Cal U may receive your electronic record.
- After completing your FAFSA, use your federal PIN to electronically sign your application. If you are a dependent student, both you and your parent will need to electronically sign the FAFSA. Once you submit your application, you'll be taken to a confirmation page that shows your confirmation number and estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- Provide a valid e-mail address. You will receive an e-mail with a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR) information within five days after filing the FAFSA. If you do not provide a valid e-mail address, you will receive a paper Student Aid Report (SAR) or SAR Acknowledgment in the mail about two weeks after submitting your online FAFSA.
- File as early as possible after Jan. 1. The deadline for priority consideration is May 1, so we recommend that you file your application at least 30 days prior to that, which is April 1.
Note: California University does not have an institutional financial aid application.
Your FAFSA Results
The federal government will process your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and electronically send the results to Cal U's Financial Aid Office provided you listed the Cal U school code (003316) on your form. If you file online, you will receive an e-mail with a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR) within five days after filing the FAFSA. You should receive a paper SAR in the mail approximately 7-10 days after the federal processor receives your FAFSA. Review the SAR to see if any corrections are necessary. Otherwise, you can keep the SAR for your records.
There is a universal formula that has been approved by Congress to determine how financial aid is calculated. This formula determines a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the amount the family (student and parents, if applicable) is expected to contribute toward the student's education. The basic elements included in determining the EFC are:
- Contribution from the parents' income and assets
- Contribution from the student's income and assets
- Number of members in the household
- Number of family members enrolled at least half-time in college
You can use a Web Calculator to estimate your EFC. The lower the EFC, the more financial need a student will have. The lowest EFC possible is zero; the highest is 99,999 or above.
If your EFC is 5,273 or less and you are pursuing your first baccalaureate degree, you may qualify for a federal Pell Grant. To determine eligibility for other federal aid, your EFC is used in the following equation:
Cost-of-Attendance (-) Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need
Your demonstrated financial need will determine which programs you qualify for. Even if you have no financial need, you will still qualify for the Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan and/or Federal PLUS Loan for Parents. Your parent must be willing to apply for the PLUS Loan and have a satisfactory credit history.
Financial Aid Award Letters for first time Freshmen will be mailed to the student's permanent address in early April.
New transfer students and returning undergraduate and graduate students will begin to receive their Financial Aid Award notification in early June.
Students that apply for Summer Financial Aid will begin to receive Financial Aid Award notification in early May.
If you have not been accepted and/or your FAFSA has not been received at the point the awarding process begins, our office will send you an award notification as your file becomes complete.
Note: Only accepted students receive award notifications.
Upper class award notifications will be sent once we have received the results of your FAFSA and have determined that you are making satisfactory academic progress for financial aid purposes (typically starting mid-May).
Understanding your Financial Aid Awards
Estimated Awards: The "estimated" award(s) that are listed on the award offer are based on the information available to us at this time. These awards are not final. Listed below is specific information on finalizing these estimated awards.
Federal Pell Grant: If your award offer includes an "estimated" Pell Grant, it will not be finalized until our office has completed the verification of your FAFSA information.
Federal Stafford Loan: If you check either "student loans "or "both work-study and student loans" to question # 31, an estimated Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Stafford Loan will be listed on your award letter. However, your Stafford Loan eligibility cannot exceed the maximum allowed per year for your grade level. Furthermore, your total financial aid (including Stafford Loans) cannot exceed the cost of attendance.
Finalizing Your Stafford Loan: A pre-certified Federal Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) will be sent by AES/ PHEAA to all new Stafford Loan borrowers who accept all or a portion of their Stafford Loan estimate(s) listed on the enclosed award letter and the web. Previous Stafford Loan borrowers who accept all or a portion of their loan estimate(s) will receive a Loan Disclosure Statement indicating the amount of their accepted awards. See Stafford Loan Application Process for additional information.
Final Awards: The awards that are not listed as an estimate are final awards based on information available to us at this time. However, special circumstances including changes to family income data or additional awards from agencies/donors (other than California University) at a later time may require an adjustment to your award(s).
Your Total Financial Aid Package: Your total financial aid package equals your estimated award(s) plus the actual awards(s), and is based on information available to us at this time. The award(s) listed on your award notice is based on full-time enrollment and is prorated over the appropriate semester(s) of attendance. If you will be enrolled less than full-time, your awards may be adjusted.
Accepting/Declining Your Award: If you are accepting the award package as offered, no further action is necessary. However, if you were awarded a Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study and/or Federal SEOG for the academic year and wish to decline any of these awards, log on to the Vulcan Information Portal to decline the award(s).
Reducing and/or Canceling Your Stafford Loan: If you wish to reduce and/or cancel the amount of your Estimated Federal Stafford Loan(s), you must complete and return the Stafford Loan Adjustment Form to the Financial Aid Office.
Miscellaneous Grants and Scholarships: When you receive your award letter, most miscellaneous grants/scholarships (OVR, JTPA BCOA, athletic grant-in-aid, and private scholarships) will not have been finalized for the academic year. Therefore, these awards will not appear on your award letter. Notify the Financial Aid Office if you will be receiving a private grant/scholarship award(s) during the academic year. Federal regulations require our office to monitor all financial aid, including private scholarships and grants, received by a student in order to insure that a student's total financial aid package does not exceed the student's demonstrated financial need and/or total cost of attendance at California University of Pennsylvania.
Disbursement of Aid
Federal regulations and Cal U guidelines require students to be registered before any financial aid money can be disbursed. In addition, all federal and state financial aid programs specify minimum enrollment requirements in order for a student to receive any (maximum or partial) assistance. These requirements are broken into four enrollment classifications: full-time, three-quarter-time, half-time and less-than-half-time. The chart below indicates the number of credits used to determine a student's enrollment status.
Definition of Eligible Enrollment Status
|Full-Time||12 Credits or more||9 Credits or more|
|Three-Quarter Time||9 to 11 Credits||7 to 8 Credits|
|Half-Time||6 to 8 Credits||5 to 6 Credits|
|Less than Half-Time||Less than 6 Credits||Less than 5 Credits|
Your Awards have been Finalized - Now What?
Once all requested forms have been received and verified, your enrollment is verified, and default status reviewed, your semester award amount excluding Federal Stafford Loans and Federal College Work-Study will be credited to your account. This usually takes places around the second week of the semester.
Federal Stafford Loans will be credited to your account once loan proceeds have been received and all other eligibility criteria have been satisfied. Federal College Work-Study funds are disbursed bi-weekly to the student in the form of a payroll check based on the number of hours worked during the pay period.
Covering Direct/Indirect Costs
While the majority of financial aid is disbursed directly to the University to cover direct costs, occasionally students request aid to cover non-institutional educational costs such as books and supplies, off-campus housing and transportation. Financial aid for these indirect costs will be disbursed to the student in the form of a refund check, which will usually be available starting the second week of the semester as long as you have satisfied the eligibility requirements for each award.
Note: Even though refund checks will be available starting the second week of the semester, your student financial aid refund check could be delayed if your federal and/or state aid has not been finalized your Master Promissory Note (MPN) was filed late or not completed, or your Federal Direct Loan Entrance Counseling is not on file.
Revisions, Cancellations and Payments
California University reserves the right to review, revise or cancel a financial aid award at any time due to one or more of the following circumstances:
- A change in your enrollment status at California University and/or a change in your financial aid eligibility
- Failure to comply with policies, procedures or laws pertaining to University programs
- The availability of federal, state and University funds for each program
You will be notified of any revision and/or cancellation. Students who fail to meet the financial aid requirements may be required to repay all or a portion of the assistance used during any affected semester(s).