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Frequently Asked Questions and Special Circumstances

We’d be happy to tell you more about financial aid opportunities for online students at CMU. Here are answers to the questions we hear most often, along with information about special circumstances. Still, have questions? Call us at 989-774-3674 or send us an email.


Your financial aid offer may include a combination of the following types of aid-based merit and/or financial need: scholarships, grants, jobs and loans. We encourage you to explore all the options.

The first step is to apply for admission. Then submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. For more details, see How to Apply for Financial Aid.

It's the application used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Eligibility is based largely on your family’s income and tuition costs.

The best way to find out what you qualify for is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can also review our general eligibility guidelines or check our Net Price Calculator to get an estimate of your aid.

You can file the FAFSA anytime after October 1 of the year before you plan to enroll. We encourage you to file as early as possible to maximize your opportunities.

Not necessarily, but you could miss out on thousands of dollars in aid if you don’t. At CMU, more than 80 percent of students receive some type of financial assistance.

You will receive an email notification when your financial aid offer is ready to view on the financial aid portal.

We don't need your Social Security number to consider your admission application, but we do need it to assess your eligibility for financial aid and tax credits. To protect your privacy, your Social Security number will not be used as your CMU student ID number.

Your federal loan will be disbursed after you complete a Loan Agreement/Master Promissory Note and complete loan counseling. For details, see Activate Your Loan.

Activate Your Loan

A federal direct subsidized loan is based on your financial need, and it's interest-free while you're in college at least half-time. A federal direct unsubsidized loan is not based on need, but the interest starts accumulating when your loan is disbursed and no more than 10 days prior to the start of your first course.

Direct Subsidized Loan

Your borrowing limits depend on your level in school and whether you're a dependent or independent student, as determined by the FAFSA. For details, see Types of Aid.

Types of Aid

Full-time enrollment means taking at least 12 hours of classes per semester. Enrollment requirements vary by financial aid program.

Enrollment Requirements

Verification is a way for us to confirm the accuracy of the information you provided in your FAFSA. All you need to do is provide the supplementary information we ask for. Learn more about the process on our Verification page.

Verification Information

Special circumstances

We recognize that the FAFSA doesn’t always capture the full picture of a student’s financial situation. If you or your family has experienced financial hardship, you may request an appeal.

Here are examples of situations that may qualify as special circumstances:

  • Job loss or significant reduction in income (of at least 10 weeks).
  • Loss of child support.
  • Separation or divorce of parents.
  • Death of a parent.
  • Withdrawal of retirement funds for emergency purposes.

We cannot consider circumstances such as high credit card debt, home mortgage expenses, car payments, gambling losses or financial aid offers from other institutions.

For questions about special circumstances, email the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid or call us at 989-774-3674.