State Grants, Scholarships and Other Programs

State Grants, Scholarships and Other Programs

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Grant

To be considered annually for a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Grant, the state must receive students’ processed FAFSAs by May 1 prior to the academic year they’ll attend. A student can receive a PHEAA grant if enrolled as an undergraduate at least half time pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree, demonstrates financial need, does not have a first bachelor’s degree, and is a legal resident of Pennsylvania. The student must also be a high school graduate or have earned a GED.

PHEAA determines eligibility and notifies students of any awards through a Student Eligibility Notice. Before a PHEAA Grant can disburse, Student Financial Services must confirm a student’s eligibility by certifying that all eligibility requirements of a program are met, including attendance.

This may delay the disbursement of the PHEAA Grant for those registered in courses that start later in the semester, however, pending aid will reflect on the bill. Choosing to enroll in online courses in any given semester, totaling more than 50% of the total registered credits for that particular term, might result in the loss or reduction of a PHEAA State Grant.

Aid for Veterans and National Guard Members

Service to our country may qualify a student for financial assistance in pursuing higher education. Students may contact Mercyhurst’s VA coordinator for more information.

Children of Soldiers Declared POW/MIA

PHEAA provides state grants to children of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who has been designated a Prisoner of War or as Missing in Action and served on active duty after January 31, 1955 and was a resident of Pennsylvania for at least 12 months preceding their service on active duty. Students can obtain the POW-MIA application by calling 800-692-7392. Call 717-720-2366 if you are hearing impaired.

Montgomery G.I. Bill

Contact the Veteran’s Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator at 814-824-2617 for more information and assistance to apply.  

Pennsylvania National Guard Educational Assistance Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and PHEAA administer the Educational Assistance Program for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. This program provides tuition assistance for students who enter into a service commitment with the Pennsylvania National Guard, typically for a period of six years. To be eligible the student must be a bona fide resident (domiciliary) of Pennsylvania and be enrolled in a degree- or certificate-granting program of study. For more information, call 800-464-8273 or visit pa.ng.mil.

Pennsylvania Chafee Education

PHEAA administers the Pennsylvania Chafee Education Grant Program on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. This program is authorized under the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 as amended by the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001. The Chafee Education Grant Program offers grant assistance to Pennsylvania undergraduate students aging out of foster care who are attending a postsecondary institution approved for the Federal Title IV student financial assistance programs. To apply for this program, go to pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/other-educational-aid/chafee-program.shtml or call 800-831-0797. 

Student Loans

Most students must rely on educational loans to cover at least some portion of their educational costs. Educational loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students as well as parents of undergraduate students. Student loan borrowing is an investment in a student’s future. When deciding to borrow, it is very important that students obtain the best possible loans available in terms of interest rates and repayment options.

Federal student loans are the most favorable type of educational loans for students. Students are advised to get all of the federal loans they qualify for before considering private alternative educational loans. Students are automatically considered for federal student loan eligibility when they file the FAFSA. Amounts can vary based on class level, cost of attendance, financial need, and other financial aid resources.

Federal Direct Loan

Federal Direct Loans are low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education administered by Mercyhurst University. It is the U.S. Department of Education’s major form of self-help aid and is available through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. There are two types of Federal Direct Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is available to undergraduate students to help meet financial need after other resources are subtracted or to the annual maximum loan limit, whichever is lower. Interest begins to accrue for the student after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half time. Federal Direct Subsidized Loans have an origination fee that is deducted at the time of disbursement. For current interest rates and origination fees visit studentaid.gov.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not based on a student’s financial need. If a student’s Estimated Cost of Attendance is greater than the total financial aid and the student has not reached his or her annual maximum loan, the student may qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Students are charged interest on this loan from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Students have the option to pay on the interest while in school, or to allow the interest to accumulate, which adds to the principal amount of the loan and increases the amount to be repaid. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans have an origination fee that is deducted at the time of disbursement. For current interest rates and origination fees, visit studentaid.gov.

Student Employment Programs

Mercyhurst offers programs that allow students to earn money to help finance university expenses and acquire practical work experience through part-time employment. The student must be accepted into a degree-granting program and be attending classes to apply for such jobs. Student-employment programs provide on-campus jobs in many academic disciplines and administrative offices for eligible students. Students may be eligible to participate in the following programs:

  • Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program may be available if the student is an undergraduate, U. S. citizen or permanent resident, and has an FWS allocation as part of the student’s Financial Aid Package. Students can earn up to the amount specified in the Financial Aid Offer Letter. FWS employment also includes community-service tutoring and literacy-project positions. FWS earnings are excluded from income on the student’s subsequent year’s financial aid application (FAFSA).
  • Institutional Work-Study (IWS) Program provides limited on-campus employment opportunities for Mercyhurst students who are not eligible for FWS but demonstrate financial need. Students must be enrolled full-time to qualify for IWS.  

Work-Study jobs are not guaranteed and are filled on a first-come basis.  Students can find open positions online via the Handshake platform; contact the Career Development Center for more information on using Handshake. Students who do not earn their full FWS or IWS offer during the academic year may have their award eliminated or reduced in future years.  In the event of an unexpected closure or reduction in campus-based operations, students who are able to perform their normal duties remotely during the period of closure or reduction in operations are eligible to continue working with the written approval of their area vice president.  Students who are unable to perform their normal duties remotely are ineligible to continue working and shall not be paid. 

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

All students must be making satisfactory academic progress at Mercyhurst University to establish and retain eligibility for student financial aid. Mercyhurst monitors satisfactory academic progress after the spring semester to provide students with early notification of their academic progress status for financial aid eligibility. A student’s entire undergraduate academic history will be considered when determining the academic progress status, including accepted transfer credits from another university.

The financial aid SAP standards can be different from the academic standards defined in the Office of Academic Affairs. It is important for students to understand there are two different policies and how they differ. Mercyhurst must apply two different Satisfactory Academic Policy standards depending on the type and sources of funding. The two SAP Policies are:

  • Institutional and Federal Student Aid
  • Pennsylvania State Grants and Scholarships

The following standards explain the components of the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Institutional and Federal Student Aid Quantitative Measure (Completion Pace)

The quantitative measurement for students enrolled in credit hour programs compares the credits attempted to credits passed. Students must successfully complete at least 67% of cumulative credits attempted to be considered making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). To calculate credits completed, all courses taken by a student will be counted, including credits that transferred into Mercyhurst along with all remedial courses. Completion rates will be rounded to the nearest whole number.

Qualitative Measure (GPA)

Students must have a 2.00 cumulative GPA by the end of the academic year. SAP will be evaluated at the end of the spring semester.

This is a separate and distinct factor in renewing or continuing eligibility for certain institutional scholarships and grants. The grade point requirement for specific programs supersedes the grade point average requirement referenced above. Information detailing the terms and conditions of specific institutional awards is shared when the grant/scholarship is offered.

Undergraduate students are considered to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress for both institutional and federal aid if they successfully complete 67%* of cumulative attempted hours and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00.

*Completion rates are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Any student who was registered for courses during the academic year but has   not received federal or institutional aid in the current academic year will still be reviewed for SAP to determine future eligibility for awards. There is no action required on the part of students if they will not be seeking any financial assistance for the next academic year. A student must be making SAP to receive federal, state, and institutional funds.

Maximum Time Frame for Completion

The maximum time frame a student can attend and continue aid eligibility cannot exceed 150 percent of the published length of the student’s academic program measured in cumulative attempted credits. For example, the published length of a four-year program is 121 credit hours. Therefore, the full-time student has a maximum of 180 attempted credit hours to complete the program. When the student’s enrollment exceeds the 150 percent point, the student is no longer eligible for federal financial aid.

Important Note: There is a four-consecutive-year maximum time limit to receive institutional scholarships and grants for new freshmen. Some awards are for two years only, which will be specified in the original admissions packet. Transfer student maximum time limit will be adjusted by the equivalent semesters of transfer credits. All credits the student attempts, including credits transferred into Mercyhurst University, count toward the 150 percent requirement, even if the student changes majors or campus locations. If a student is pursuing two programs simultaneously, the program requiring the most credits to complete will be used to measure the maximum time frame for completion.

Effect of Withdrawals, Incomplete Courses, and Repeated Courses

If a student withdraws from a course or courses (receiving a W grade) after the first week of classes during a given semester, the credits are included in the count of courses attempted. An incomplete course counts as credits attempted but is not included in the GPA and credits completed until the incomplete grade is changed to a passing or failing grade. A repeated course is only counted toward progression if it replaces a previous course for which the student received no credit.

Procedures for Appealing

Students not meeting the minimum standards for financial aid SAP (described earlier) are ineligible for federal and institutional financial aid. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study offers, and loans. However, students can request reinstatement of their financial aid eligibility by submitting a written appeal to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee.

SAP Appeal requests must provide an explanation of the extenuating circumstances that contributed to the student’s failure to meet the minimum academic progress standards and a realistic academic plan for improvement. If the Financial Aid Appeals Committee approves the appeal, the student will be placed on financial aid probation and possibly an academic plan. Financial aid is reinstated for the applicable payment period.

Students should also meet with their academic support counselor for guidance on their academic plans throughout the academic year. The financial aid SAP appeal and outcome apply to financial aid only. OAA academic progress is appealed separately. Students receive appeal determinations in writing. 

Deadlines to Appeal for SAP 

Summer Term: July 31, 2021

Fall Semester: Aug. 15, 2021

Spring Semester: Jan. 7, 2022

Pennsylvania (PHEAA) State Grants and Scholarships

Progress review for all state grants and scholarships occurs at the end of the spring semester. Before crediting a state grant or scholarship to a student’s account, Mercyhurst must certify that for the past academic year during which the student received a state grant, the student completed the minimum required credits hours for the semester to which grant aid was applied. For example, if a student received an equivalent of an academic year state grant award during the prior academic year, the student is expected to have completed successfully 24 credits over the course of the prior academic year and summer.

If the student has received at least one semester of state grant aid during a prior academic year, Mercyhurst must verify that, during or subsequent to those semesters, the student completed the minimum number of semester credits/clock hours needed to make academic progress given the number of semesters of state grant aid received and the student state grant award status (full time or part time) during each of those semesters.

The table below is used to determine the minimum number of credits/clock hours that must be successfully completed for each enrollment status during a semester of state grant aid. It is necessary to add the award counters (according to the student’s specific enrollment and award status) for each semester of the academic year to determine the minimum total number of credits/clock hours that must have been completed by the student for the academic year period in question.

 

For Each

Award Counter

Student must complete minimum of:

Full-time semester award

.50

12 semester credits / 450 clock hours

2

.33 / .34

12 quarter or 8 semester credits / 300 clock hours

3

.25

6 semester credits / 225 clock hours

4

.16 / .17

6 quarter or 4 semester credits / 150 clock hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State aid grant/scholarship recipients who fail to meet the requirements detailed earlier remain ineligible until the requisite credits have been completed.

Transfer Students

All of a student’s coursework, whether it was taken at Mercyhurst or elsewhere, is applicable when performing the academic progress test for state aid. Transfer students who were prior year recipients of a state grant must request that their official academic transcripts from prior institutions be submitted to the Mercyhurst Admissions Office, so academic progress can be reviewed by Student Financial Services. Credits successfully completed at a previous institution need not be transferable to Mercyhurst to be counted toward academic progress.

Effects of Repeated Coursework and Incomplete Courses

Repeated coursework can only be counted once toward the state aid grant/ scholarship academic progress requirement. In the case of students who were permitted a prior semester of state grant on the basis of the remedial exception, only those remedial credits that were counted toward the full-time/ half-time minimum can be considered part of the credits needed to meet the academic progress test for that period of time.

Procedures for Appealing

In cases of extenuating circumstances where a student has failed to complete the required number of credits, the student can submit an academic progress exception form to PHEAA with appropriate documentation.  The form can be retrieved from https://www.pheaa.org/grants/state-grant-program/forms.shtml.

Deadlines to Appeal

The State Grant Progress Exception Form must be submitted within 30 days of the start of the semester and will never be accepted after April 1 by PHEAA.

Record Retention

Students who wish to view or obtain a copy of their Student Financial Services records can complete the Request for Access to Student Records available from the Student Financial Services Office. Per U.S. Department of Education regulations, financial aid records are retained for three years after the award year for which aid was awarded. After the record retention period has expired, these records will no longer be available.

 

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