May 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Financial Aid



The Financial Aid Office serves prospective students, current students, and their parents with financial aid questions and needs. The primary goal of the Financial Aid Office is to provide appropriate financial resources in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment to enable students to achieve their educational potential while ensuring compliance with the various sources of financial aid. The University strives to meet the “financial need” of as many students from as many resources as possible.

Financial Aid Application

The major funding sources are from the federal and state governments. For consideration for financial assistance students are urged to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to May 1 each year via the federal website studentaid.gov. Please indicate PennWest’s Title IV code (003316) for Global Online and California Campus, Clarion Campus code (003318), and Edinboro Campus code (003321) on the FAFSA form.

Academic Year

PennWest’s academic year is comprised of a fall and spring semester, during which a full-time undergraduate student is expected to complete at least 24 credits. The period of time school is in session consists of 30 weeks of instruction.

Financial Aid Programs

GRANTS & SCHOLARSHIPS are what financial aid refers to as gift aid. Gift Aid is money the student receives that does not need to be repaid or earned. Grants are based upon financial need, while scholarships are generally based upon characteristics such as scholastic achievement, athletic ability, or geographic location. 

Federal Pell Grant

Pell Grants are designed to assist students, from low-income households, who have not yet earned their first bachelor’s degree. Pell Grants are intended to be the “foundation” of the financial aid package. Eligible students must demonstrate financial need, as determined by the FAFSA application. Congress sets the annual minimum and maximum award amounts for Pell Grant awards.

Maximum Pell Grant Eligibility

Effective July 1, 2012, the Department of Education established the Federal Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used (LEU).  Students can receive the Federal Pell Grant for the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters (roughly 6 years) or 600%. This means a student who has received a Federal Pell Grant that is equivalent to 12 full-time semesters is no longer eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant or any other federal grants, even if they have not completed their first bachelor’s degree. Students who have reached their maximum Pell Grant eligibility will be notified by FAFSA via their Student Aid Report (SAR) in the Comment Section. Students can also monitor the percentage and semesters of their Federal Pell Grant eligibility used by logging in to studentaid.gov.

Federal TEACH Grant

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants are based on the program of study and cumulative grade point average (3.25 is required) rather than financial need. In order to qualify for this grant at PennWest, besides meeting the GPA requirement, students must be enrolled in one of the following programs: BSED Early Childhood/Special Education, BSED Middle Level Math, BSED Middle Level Science, BSED Secondary Education Biology, BSED Secondary Education Chemistry, BSED Secondary Education General Science, BSED Secondary Education Mathematics, BSED Special Education PK-12, MEd Reading Specialist, or MEd Special Education. Students also must obtain College of Education Teacher Education Admission in order to qualify for the TEACH Grant. Interested students should complete a TEACH Grant Preliminary Application found on the school website. Once approved for the grant, students must complete an annual Agreement To Serve document in which they agree to teach for at least four academic years within the first eight calendar years of completing their TEACH-eligible degree as well as TEACH Entrance Counseling. Note: TEACH recipients who fail to complete this service obligation will have their TEACH grants converted to interest-bearing Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Interest will be assessed retroactive to the date the first TEACH grant disbursed to their account.

Federal SEOG Grant

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) are need-based, campus-based grants awarded by the Financial Aid Office to Pell-eligible students. There is no separate application for the SEOG grant program, but a current year FAFSA form must be on file to determine financial need and Pell grant eligibility. Awards range from $100-$4000 per year and are targeted to students who demonstrate significant unmet need who also have a zero or very small expected family contributions (EFC).

Pennsylvania State Grant

The Pennsylvania state grant is need-based, as determined by the PHEAA’s methodology, in conjunction with the federal FAFSA form. Eligible students must be residents of Pennsylvania who have not yet received their first bachelor’s degree.  Students must have their FAFSA form submitted by May 1 each year to be considered for this grant. First-time students must also complete a student status form at pheaa.org. Award amounts vary based on funding levels.

Bachelor degree-seeking students are limited to no more than four years of full-time funding (eight semesters) and associate degree students are limited to two years (four semesters). PHEAA requires full-time students to successfully complete 24 credit hours each academic year in order to qualify for the grant in future terms. Part-time students are required to pass at least six credits each semester in which they receive a part-time grant. Due to limited resources, students enrolled in more than 50% distance education credits (online) may receive a reduced award. For more information on your PA State Grant eligibility contact PHEAA at 1-800-692-7392 or pheaa.org.  In addition, per PHEAA regulations, for students enrolled in a module course (7W1, 7W2, and all summer sessions) for the term, the PA State Grant cannot be credited to the student’s account until enrollment is confirmed in the final module, which is after add/drop, even if the student is enrolled at least half-time prior to that final module.

PennWest University Undergraduate Student Scholarships

PennWest University’s endowed, annual, and athletic scholarships provide support to more than 600 students yearly.  Scholarships are available to new incoming students as well as currently enrolled students. Most of PennWest’s scholarships are funded by private support through the California, Clarion and Edinboro Foundations and are overseen by the Financial Aid Office, within the Enrollment Management Division.  Students may access the scholarship application through the MyPennWest Portal, with individual log-in credential for their PennWest account.  Financial aid will automatically consider them for any scholarships for which they are qualified.  PennWest will annually notify students when the application is available and the submission deadline.  

Self Help Aid

There are two types of Self-help financial aid. Loans which are borrowed and must be repaid with interest and Student Employment where students earn money to help pay for school by working part-time. 

Federal Direct Student Loan Program

Federal Direct Student loans provide a maximum of $5,500 per academic year for first-year students, $6,500 for second- year students (30-59 credits), and $7,500 for third, fourth and fifth-year students (60 credits and higher) not to exceed an aggregate undergraduate level of borrowing of $31,000 in total. NOTE: Students who are determined by their current year FAFSA to be “independent” are eligible to borrow additional “unsubsidized” loan amounts: $4,000 for first and second-year students and $5,000 for third and fourth year (60 credits and higher). Independent students cannot exceed an aggregate loan limit of $57,500 during their undergraduate enrollment at PennWest University.  Borrowers who demonstrate unmet financial need may qualify for a portion of these annual loan amounts to be subsidized (i.e. interest-free) during their enrollment at PennWest.

Students must have a current year FAFSA on file, as well as a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Loan Counseling. The one-time-only Entrance Counseling and ten-year MPN are completed online at studentaid.gov. Federal Direct Student Loan interest rates vary by year and type of loan (subsidized vs. non-subsidized).   However, there is an 8.25 percent maximum interest rate cap on all Direct Stafford Loan programs.  Repayment for Federal Direct Student Loans begins six months after the student ceases at least half-time enrollment at the university. During this six month “grace” period, no payment is required. However, monthly repayments start at the end of the one-time-only grace period and extend over a 10-year repayment period. Loan deferments are available to eligible students. Students should contact their federal loan servicer to obtain additional information if they experience financial hardships during their 10-year repayment period.

Graduate students enrolled in the Teacher Certification program and not receiving a master’s degree are subject to undergraduate loan limits of $5,500 Subsidized Stafford and $7,000 Unsubsidized Stafford Loan limits. Graduate degree-seeking students who enroll in all undergraduate coursework for any given term will have their loans adjusted to reflect undergraduate loan level. 

Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Federal Parent PLUS loans are available to parents of dependent students and are not based on financial need. Parents may choose to borrow up to the student’s cost of education minus any other financial aid awarded for the year.

There are no aggregate loan limits for this program. The parent who applies for this loan must be the student’s natural or adoptive parent. A stepparent can apply only if his/her information is provided on the current year FAFSA. Students must have a current year FAFSA on file and parents must complete both a PLUS loan application and a PLUS loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) on the studentaid.gov website. Eligible students must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for this loan. Eligible parents must demonstrate no adverse credit history in order to qualify for the loan.

Note: Dependent students whose parents are denied access, based on credit history, to participate in the Federal Parent PLUS loan program, are eligible for the additional unsubsidized loan amounts typically restricted to independent students (see information under Federal Direct Student Loans).

PLUS loan interest rates may vary, but there is a 10.5 percent maximum cap.  Parents may request an in-school deferment during the PLUS application process. This permits them to waive the requirement to begin repayment no later than 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed to the student’s account.

Parents have 10 years in which to repay the loan once their deferment expires and/or the loan is fully disbursed to the student.

Nursing Loans

This program is intended to assist students to achieve careers in nursing by providing long-term, low-interest loans to help meet the costs of education. The maximum loan is $2,500 for an academic year or the amount of financial need, whichever is less. A student may receive up to $4000 in the last two years of study. The total amount of a student’s loans for all years may not exceed $13,000. Loans are interest free during the in-school period enrollments of at least half-time. Repayment may be made over a ten-year period which begins nine months after study has been terminated, and the minimum payment can be $40. Five percent interest accrues during the repayment period. Payments may be deferred up to three years during military service, Peace Corps participation, and periods of full-time advanced professional training in nursing.

Private (Alternative) Loans

Before applying for a private (alternative) loan, consider Federal Direct Student Loans first. Generally, they offer better terms and lower interest rates.  If you find that you need additional funding, do not wish to apply for federal financial aid, or are ineligible for federal aid, you may want to apply for a private loan. Some private loans are not subject to federal financial aid regulations, such as having a FAFSA on file, making satisfactory academic progress, completing federal verification, and some do not have limits on the amount borrowed based on the number of credits earned. However, they are based on the credit- worthiness of the applicant and/or the cosigner.  Private lenders offer a variety of loan products to undergraduate, graduate, professional school, part-time, and continuing education students. In most cases, students can apply online. In some cases, the loans can be used to pay past due balances of educational costs. Additional information, as well as our private loan comparison tool through ELMSelect, can be found online at elmselect.com.

Student Employment

The University offers student employment opportunities through four programs - Federal Work Study, State Work Study, Institutional Work Study and Graduate Assistantships. Employment is available to the extent that funds are provided by the federal government, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), and the institution. Students who receive student employment awards are not guaranteed a job. Students are required to actively engage in acquiring employment.

All student employment programs require eligible students to maintain at least half-time enrollment (six credits) during the academic year. Participating students must be paid at least the current federal minimum wage rate and receive their pay on a bi-weekly basis.

Federal Work-Study Program

The university participates in the Federal Work-Study Program which permits students with unmet financial need to work while classes are in session. Eligible students must have a current year FAFSA on file. Participating students typically work no more than 10-15 hours per week (as determined by the employer) during the academic year.

State (Institutional) Employment Program

Students participating in this program do not need to demonstrate unmet financial need nor is a current year FAFSA required. Hours are typically limited to no more than 10-15 hours per week during the academic year (as determined by the employer).

Military and Veteran Success

All Active-Duty Service-members, Veterans, Reservists, National Guard personnel and eligible dependents who are eligible for VA education benefits should contact this office at an early date so that the necessary VA paperwork can be processed and to assure prompt payments of educational benefits.

Conditions Which Accompany Financial Aid

In order to continue receiving financial aid following initial enrollment at PennWest University of Pennsylvania, students must meet certain conditions each year. One such condition requires students to enroll at least part-time (six credits) for every aid program, except the federal Pell Grant program. Also, all federal and state aid applicants must reapply for aid using the FAFSA form each year.

Full-time baccalaureate students may receive assistance from most federal Title IV programs for up to six years of attendance or 180 semester hours; full-time associate degree students are limited to three years of attendance or 90 semester hours. State programs provide baccalaureate students with up to four years of potential funding and associate degree students with a maximum of two years of funding.

Federal and state regulations require students to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Pennsylvania Western University of Pennsylvania has developed standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in accordance with federal regulations. This policy measures quantity (number of credits completed), quality (cumulative grade point average), and maximum time frames for completion and measures progress incrementally. SAP will be reviewed after each payment period (fall semester, spring semester, and the summer term).

The provisions of the policy apply to students seeking eligibility for Federal Title IV Aid (Federal Pell, Federal SEOG, Federal Direct Stafford Subsidize and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct Plus, Federal TEACH Grant, and Federal Nursing Loans), and other programs, which require monitoring of academic progress. Note: Standards of satisfactory academic progress for the PA State Grant is not the same as the federal standards.

For financial aid purposes, a student is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress if he/she meets the following criteria: All undergraduate students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better and complete at least 67% of all attempted coursework which includes (F)ailures, (I)ncompletes, (W)ithdrawals, and (R)epeat courses.

Note: The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Financial Aid recipients is independent of “Academic Probation and Suspension.”  Students who have completed 180 credits and/or 12 semesters with or without the benefit of financial assistance are no longer eligible for financial aid. If it is determined that a student has met the requirements for his/her degree but did not apply for graduation, federal grant aid will not be awarded. All credits are counted as attempted credits after the end of the “add/drop period” for the purpose of determining progress for federal financial aid.  *The number of semesters is based on an equivalency of full-time enrollment (e.g. a student enrolled in six (6) credit hours has an equivalency of .50 semester (6 credit hours/12 full-time credits hours = .50).

Any student who fails to meet SAP requirements will be placed on financial aid warning for one semester. If at the end of the warning period the student does not meet the requirements for SAP, all aid will be cancelled and the student is placed on financial aid suspension; students on financial aid suspension are no longer eligible for federal financial aid (which includes student loans).  

Students who are on warning are encouraged to seek academic and/ or personal counseling. Counseling services can provide the student with additional support, which may alleviate obstacles that hinder satisfactory academic progress. Students on warning are further encouraged to consult with a financial aid counselor prior to withdrawing from any classes or if midterm grades are failures.

Reinstatement of Aid

Aid may be reinstated by meeting the requirements for SAP or by an approved appeal with an academic plan signed by the student’s academic advisor. If aid is reinstated, a probationary status will remain in effect. A period of non-enrollment does not reinstate aid eligibility. Appeals Students who wish to appeal the suspension of financial aid eligibility based on mitigating circumstances (e.g. severe illness, death of close family member, severe injury, other factors relevant to student success) may do so by submitting a letter of appeal and supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office within the first 2 months of the semester, which is affected by the SAP status for which the appeal applies.  

All appeals for reinstatement of aid must include: A completed appeal form which identifies the reason for unsatisfactory progress, supporting documentation, and what has changed in order to better facilitate academic success. Once this material is received, the Financial Aid Office will review and approve or deny the appeal. If approved, the student will need to meet with their advisor, department chair or dean to complete an academic plan. The plan must be signed by the student as well as the academic advisor and must be received by the Financial Aid Office no later than the 8th week of classes.

The Director of Financial Aid will notify the student of the decision to reinstate or deny aid. If the appeal is approved, the student must adhere to the signed academic plan and if the conditions are not satisfied, students are placed on Financial Aid Denied without an opportunity to appeal and aid will be denied in all subsequent terms until the student can regain aid eligibility by reaching the required 67% completion rate and a 2.0 cumulative GPA. The committee will not review incomplete and/or partial appeals. All documentation is retained by the Financial Aid Office for audit purposes.

Return of Federal Aid Monies Due to University Withdrawal

Federal Title IV regulations dictate the return of federal aid monies. If a recipient of Title IV funds (Pell Grant, IASG, SEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, Direct Student Loan) withdraws from school after beginning attendance, a portion of the Title IV funds may have to be returned to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).  Title IV funds are awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of the Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.  Students who are considering withdrawing after the semester begins or reducing their credit hour load, should contact the Financial Aid Office first to determine the impact on their financial aid awards.  If a student withdraws before completing 60 percent of the semester, the percentage of Title IV funds earned is equal to the percentage of the semester completed. The university is required to return the unearned portion to the U.S. Department of Education. If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution is required to return a portion of the funds and the student is then required to return a portion of the funds. When Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a balance to the institution. The institution must return the amount of the Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal.

The percentage of payment period or term completed up to the withdrawal date is determined by dividing the total number of days enrolled by the total days in the standard payment period or term. (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.) This percentage is also the percentage of earned aid. Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula: aid to be returned= (100 percent of the aid that could be disbursed minus the percentage of earned aid) multiplied by the total amount of aid that could have been disbursed during the payment period of the term.

Returns are allocated in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Direct Student Loans
  3. Federal Direct PLUS Loans
  4. Federal Pell Grants
  5. Federal SEOG Grants
  6. TEACH Grant
  7. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

If a student withdraws after completing more than 60 percent of the semester, the percentage of Title IV funds earned is 100, and neither the student nor the school return any funds to USDE.

If a student earns more aid than was disbursed to him/ her, the institution owes the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal. The full policy can be found on PennWest’s website.

Please note: The university refund policy for tuition and fees is very different from the Federal Title IV regulations for returning financial aid. For example: If a student withdraws after the end of the university refund period, the student will be charged for 100 percent of his/her tuition and fees. If the student withdraws before completing more than 60 percent of the semester, the university is required to return a portion of his/her Title IV funds. In most cases, the student will owe the university for the Title IV funds returned. If not repaid to the university, the student will not be able to return in future semesters or receive official transcripts.