YOUR GUIDE TO FINANCIAL AID
At Mercyhurst University, we understand that paying for a private college education is often a concern for many students and families. As you and your family consider your various college offers, it is important to remember that a college education is more than a four-year commitment; it is an investment that will yield benefits throughout your lifetime. And because we believe in the value of a Mercyhurst education, we want to be sure we’re providing competitive, affordable financial aid packages for students to attend this university.
Throughout the financial aid process, as questions arise, we encourage you to consult this webpage for detailed information on your financial aid award, as well as the availability of scholarships and loans in general. Your admissions counselor is also available at any time to answer your questions or walk you through your financial aid award to help you understand the bottom line.
Key Financial Aid Dates
Oct. 1, 2019 – the 2020-2021 FAFSA becomes available
March 15, 2020 – Mercyhurst’s recommended deadline to file your FAFSA (the federal deadline to file your FAFSA is June 30, 2020).
May 1, 2020 – Deadline to file for PHEAA grants (Pennsylvania residents only).
Summer 2020 – Complete Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling. Your student loans will not be posted to your account until you have signed your MPN and completed Entrance Counseling. The initial completion of these documents is only required freshman year.
August 2020 – Fall Semester payments are due
Financial Aid Terminology
All financial aid begins with your filing of the FAFSA. Short for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” the FAFSA will determine if a student qualifies for federal, state and institutional aid. Visit fafsa.ed.gov to complete the FAFSA. When you are prompted to enter school codes, please use our school code, 003297, to send your results to Mercyhurst. For additional information on filing the FAFSA, click here.
The Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID refers to the username and password that you must use to log in to the FAFSA. Both students and parents must have their own unique FSA IDs. You can register for your ID by visiting fsaid.ed.gov. There is no charge for this service.
The Student Aid Report is the report generated when a student successfully files the FAFSA; it is a summary of the information submitted.
Cost of Attendance refers to the total costs of room, board, tuition and fees for a college or university. Travel expenses, books, other personal fees are also taken into account. Students can borrow up to their cost of attendance and receive a refund.
The Estimated Family Contribution is a number between 0 and 999,999 that is generated by completing the FAFSA. By providing an idea of what the student’s family can reasonably be expected to pay, the EFC is used in determining a student’s financial need.
A student’s need is calculated by taking the Cost of Attendance and subtracting the student’s Estimated Family Contribution.
For students living in Pennsylvania, PHEAA refers to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which administers the Pennsylvania State Grant financial assistance program. After filing the FAFSA, students in Pennsylvania can also apply for state grants through PHEAA at pheaa.org.
Entrance counseling is required for students who are accepting a federal student loan. This online session explains the terms and conditions of borrowing a federal loan (studentloans.gov). All students must complete entrance counseling before the loan is disbursed.
Master Promissory Note
The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is the legal document students must complete prior to borrowing federal student loans. Students must add the institution they are attending in order for the loan to disburse.
Types of Financial Aid
Federal Pell Grant
These grants are awarded to students based on financial need.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency awards state grants to Pennsylvania residents who have filed the FAFSA before May 1 and demonstrate need. PHEAA amounts range from $500 to $4,000.
Federal Subsidized Loan
These loans are awarded to students who have filed the FAFSA and qualify based on need. Federal subsidized loans range up to $3,500.
Federal Unsubsidized Loan
These loans are awarded to students who have filed the FAFSA. Federal unsubsidized loans range up to $5,500, but traditionally are $2,000 for dependents and up to $6,000 for independents.
Federal Work Study
Federal work studies are awarded to students who qualify based on need and display an EFC of less than $15,000. Notification indicates that you are eligible to apply for a job on campus under the federal work study program. This is not a guarantee of employment; students must find a job and work the necessary hours to earn up to the amount for which they are eligible.
A parent PLUS loan can be taken out by a parent of the student. The borrowing party must qualify based on a credit check and can borrow up to the remaining COA after the EFC and all other aid sources have been calculated.
A scholarship is a form of financial assistance that does not require repayment or employment. Scholarships are most often offered to students who demonstrate or show potential for distinction, usually in academic performance.
A grant is a type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are usually awarded on the basis of need, possibly combined with some skills or characteristics the student possesses.
Unlike scholarships and grants, loans—whether federal or private—need to be repaid. There are a variety of need-based and non-need-based loans available to assist in financing a college education.
Federal Education Loans
Federal education loans offer students a distinct advantage over private lender loans in that they offer more attractive interest rates, more flexible repayment plans, and require no collateral for approval.
Federal Direct Student Loans
Students are automatically eligible to receive this federally funded loan as a result of filing the FAFSA. This loan is in the student's name and does not need to be repaid until six months after you graduate or drop below half time. This loan is repaid over a 10-year period. No credit check is required. The loan is guaranteed.
If you want to take Federal Direct Student Loans, visit studentloans.gov, where you can complete the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling using your (the student's) FSA ID. There is a loan origination fee; therefore, the actual amount applied to your bill reflects the deduction of this origination fee.
Federal Direct Student Loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized, or a combination of both. This determination is made by the federal government as a result of your FAFSA.
- Subsidized – Fixed interest rate. Both the principal and interest are deferred until the repayment period begins.
- Unsubsidized – Fixed interest rate. The principal, but not the interest, is deferred until the repayment period begins. The interest is accruing while the student is in school. You can choose to pay the interest while you are in school. Alternatively, you can defer interest payments—allowing the interest to capitalize—and start paying the loans and interest after graduation. Paying the interest while you are in school will cost you less.
Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS)
This loan is in your parent’s name. The federal government is your parent’s lender. Your parent must apply for this loan, and a credit check is required. To apply, visit studentloans.gov and your parent must use his or her FSA ID. You must have a FAFSA on file in order for your parents to apply. We suggest parents start applying for PLUS loans in the summer before the student’s freshman year.
Parents start repaying this loan while you are in school (usually around November of your first year). Parents can wait to start repayment until after you graduate, but interest will begin capitalizing immediately. Most repayments are over a 10-year period but can sometimes be extended to 20 years. Actual loan amounts will be minus an origination fee.
If your parent is denied a Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS), you can receive an additional $4,000 in an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loan.
Private Education Alternative Loans
Private loans, also known as alternative loans, help bridge the gap between the actual cost of education and the limited amount available from federal loan programs. There are no federal forms to complete. Mercyhurst University will accept any loan from the lender of your choice. Loan limits and rates vary by lender. Please visit elmselect.com to explore private education loan options.
Loan amounts and interest details are estimates based on 2018-2019 data, and are subject to change.