Understanding Financial Aid (2024)

Financial aid helps students and families/supporters pay for college. It may consist of scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment.

Financial Aid Guidelines

The first step to receive financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will help determine your eligibility for grants, loans, student employment, and some types of scholarships. Want to prepare for completing the FAFSA? Get the answers you need here.

Apply for Financial AidAvailability of FundsFinancial Aid Eligibility Satisfactory Academic ProgressWithdrawal InformationFinancial Aid FormsFinancial Aid - Special Groups

Types of Financial Aid

First-Year Scholarship

An award provided by Commonwealth University to incoming, first year students. Award criteria includes academic performance in high school and residency.

Transfer Scholarship

An award provided by Commonwealth University to incoming transfer students. Award criteria includes academic performance at previous college, intended major, and date of admission.

Athletic Scholarship

An award provided by the Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, or Mansfield Athletic Departments. Prospective student-athletes should work with their coach to determine eligibility.

External Scholarship

An award provided by your high school, local community, or an outside organization.

Additional Information

PELL Grant

A federal grant for students who have completed their FAFSA, are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree, and have a low Student Aid Index as determined by the FAFSA.

SEOG Grant

A small federal grant for students who have completed their FAFSA, are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree, and have the lowest Student Aid Index as determined by the FAFSA (funds are limited).


A federal grant for students that provides up to $4,000 per year to students who meet eligibility requirements.

Pennsylvania State Grant

A state grant for students (Pennsylvania residents only) who have completed their FAFSA, are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree, and have low Student Aid Index as determined by the FAFSA.

Additional Information

Direct Student Loan

A federal loan in the student's name who has completed their FAFSA.

Direct PLUS Loan

A federal loan in the parent's name for an undergraduate student who has completed their FAFSA.

Direct GradPLUS Loan

A federal loan in the student's name for graduate/doctoral level student who has completed their FAFSA.

State Loan

A state loan in the student's name or parent's name (varies by program).

Private Educational Alternative Loan

A loan available through a lender in the student's name or parent's name (varies by program).

Additional Information

Part-time student employment is a great way to earn some extra money and so much more!

Student Employment Benefits

  • Experience
  • Flexible Hours
  • Networking (Making friends)
  • Time Management

Student Employment Facts

  • You are permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours per weekduring enrollment. If classes are not in session, you're able to work up to 37.5 hours per week.
  • You cannot work more than 8 hours a day.
  • You are not able to work during your scheduled class time.
  • Employment awards may change.
  • Available for summer but must be enrolled at least half-time for next semester.
  • Earnings are not deducted from your bill; you get a paycheck!
  • Federal work-study may be available for students with financial need. You must submit the FAFSA to determine federal eligibility.
  • There may be student employment opportunities for students who do not qualify or apply for federal work-study.
  • View other generaleligibilityrequirements (The FAFSA is only required to receive federal work-study).

Student Employment Portal Student Employment Information

In addition to scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment, there are other sources of financial aid that may help you pay for college.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation provides training and services for physically or mentally disabled or handicapped persons. Students who are enrolled in an educational program may be eligible for financial aid when their disability or a handicap interferes with their vocational goals. Information is available from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans Benefits may be available to veterans of the armed services who qualify for educational assistance under the Veterans Administration's programs. Contact a localVeterans Administration Office for more information.

PA National Guard Educational Assistance Program

The Pennsylvania National Guard offers scholarship and loan opportunities. Information is available from a localNational Guardrepresentative.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

The Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, created by Act 16 of 2019, seeks to remove barriers in accessing a postsecondary education for youth who are or have been in foster care. It allows eligible foster youth to complete their studies, graduate with less debt, and have the opportunity to build a network of support.

Key Facts

  • Waiver cannot be used for room and board, only applied toward tuition.
  • Waiver may be used for up to five academic years, whether or not consecutive, or until the age 26.


  • Pennsylvania resident under the age of 26.
  • Received a high school diploma or equivalent approved credential.
  • Eligible for services under Pennsylvania’s John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood.
  • Identified as a youth in foster care or a youth discharged from foster care at age 16 or older.
  • Exited foster care on or after age 16 to adoption or permeant legal custodianship.
  • Enrolled as an undergraduate, at least half time in a postsecondary institutionthat is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV student assistance programs.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress, as determined by the postsecondary institution.
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan.

How to Participate/Apply

  1. File the FAFSA.
  2. Submit a Chafee ETG Application.
  3. Enroll at Commonwealth University or another eligible PA postsecondary institution.

Additional Help
For assistance with financial aid applications and financial literacy please contact:
Marla Kane – Associate Director, Office of Financial Aid
Phone – 570-389-4495
Email - mkane@commonwealthu.edu

Contact Financial Aid

If you have questions regarding your financial aid, please do not hesitate to contact you. Please note that students must have a completed FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) release for us to disclose information to anyone other than the student.

When emailing the Financial Aid office, DO NOT include any sensitive data such as social security numbers, date of birth, etc.If you are a current student or an applicant, please include your university ID numberin your email.

Email the Financial Aid Team Virtual Assistant

Counselors are assigned to students by last name. You may contact them directly with any questions you may have regarding your aid.

Student Last NameCounselorPhone - Email - Calendly Link
A-CPhillip Hutnick-Kenenitz570-389-4499
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
D-GAmy Bowman570-484-2031
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
H-LRachel Green570-662-4854
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
M-QTristan Dzoch570-389-4496
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
R-SStephanie Weaver570-484-2306
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
T-ZEdward Mooney570-389-4494
Send an Email
Schedule an Appointment
Bloomsburg570-389-4297106 Arts & Administration Building
Lock Haven570-484-2424224 Ulmer Hall
Mansfield570-662-4129231 South Hall

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. If you wish for our office to provide someone such as a parent/supporter your financial aid information you must submit a FERPA Release Form.

FERPA Release Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Whilethe process of applying for financial aid and paying for college maybe daunting, we're here to help. We've compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below, but don't hesitate to contact us. Please emailquestions and we will reply as soon as possible.

Send Us An Email

Due to the passing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act on December 27, 2020, as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the FAFSA is changing for the 2024-2025 aid year.

You can expect the following changes:

  • The 2024-2025 FAFSA will not be available untilDecember 2023.
  • The 2024-2025 FAFSA determines your financial aid eligibility for summer 2024, fall 2024 and spring 2025 terms.
  • Pennsylvania residents shouldcomplete the FAFSA by June 1for potential state aid eligibility through PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency). After completion of the FAFSA, PHEAA will email you a link to access their GrantUs portal to complete the state grant application. Not a PA resident? Contact your state's higher education assistance agency to explore potential options.

Please use your first-choice campus Federal Title IV Code on the FAFSA:
Commonwealth University - Bloomsburg: 003315
Commonwealth University - Lock Haven: 003323
Commonwealth University - Mansfield: 003324

YES! Eligibility for federal student aid does not carry over from one award year to the next. You will need to complete the FAFSA for each award year for which you plan to be a student, including summer. Keep in mind that financial circ*mstances change from year to year. If something substantial changes, please contact us.

If at any time during the year your family has a major change in their/your financial or family circ*mstances, be sure to contact us! We can’t always increase your aid but we’re happy to consider new information if things have significantly changed.

Special Condition Form

This process is mandated by the U.S. Department of Education to confirm the accuracy of the information reported on the FAFSA. It does not mean that you did anything wrong but is simply a data check that our office must conduct. We will send emails to your university email address if information is required from you. Generally, you'll be required to upload supporting documentation to our secure portal such as federal taxes, household size, number of students from your family in college, etc.Financial aid cannot be paid until the verification requirements have been completed.If you don't submit the items requested, it will result in failure of funds being released.

Remember, loans are considered financial aid and must be paid back!

Learn more

Federal Direct Parent PLUS is a federal loan available to parents to borrow for their dependent, undergraduate student to help pay for educational expenses. It is based on a credit check with the interest rate predetermined by the federal government. It is important to note; the parent is the borrower of the loan and is responsible for repayment of the loan.Learn More

Students are always awarded with their maximum eligibility based on their qualification from the FAFSA. However, based on federal loan limits, you may not have enough funds to cover all of your educational costs. If you need additional funding beyond the aid you were awarded, you may consider a tuition payment plan, Federal DirectParent/Grad PLUS loan, state loan, or a private educational alternative loan. We do not recommend who to use for private loan borrowing.
Learn More

You are not required to pay towards the principal of your Federal Direct Student Loans while you are in school as long as you are enrolled at least half-time. There are no prepayment penalties for paying your federal loans. Interest will accrue on any non-subsidizedloans while enrolled. You can always make interest-only payments or pay on any portion of your loans while attending school if you choose.

If you have private or state loans, check with your loan servicer as to repayment obligations.

The COA is basically your budget. It is the total average amount it will cost you to attend in an academic year and includes things like tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, course materials, supplies and equipment, transportation and personal expenses. The COA does not equal your actual tuition bill and varies from student to student.

In order to continue receiving federal student aid, you need to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Essentially, you need to maintain a certain grade point average and complete enough classes in order to successfully complete your degree/certificate in the required time frame established by the university. Federal student aid includes grants, loans, and work-study.

Learn More

Dropping or withdrawing from a course or from the university may affect your current and future financial aid. Before you make this decision, please contact us.

Learn More

Financial aid will be disbursed once the drop/add period has ended for the semester.

Learn More

If your financial aid exceeds your university charges you may. Please remember that refunds of excess financial aid do not occur until after the semester has started. If your rent is due before this, you will need to work with your landlord.

Understanding Financial Aid (2024)
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