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Frequently Asked Questions about Scholarships and Financial Aid

About Your Award Notice

Q. How did CMU determine how much money my family can contribute each year?

When students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the Federal Processor uses a system developed by Congress that determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is an estimate of the family’s ability to pay for post-secondary education based on this federal methodology.

Q. What types of aid can students get at CMU?

Your CMU financial aid offer may include a combination of the following types of aid, based on merit and/or financial need: scholarships, grants, jobs and loans.

Q. What is the difference between a scholarship and a grant?

Both scholarships and grants are considered to be Gift Aid. Gift Aid is free educational funds that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are awards based on the student’s achievement (academic, talent, athletic.) Grants are awards based on financial need as determined by completing the FAFSA.

Q. Do I have to accept the loans if I just want the scholarships and grants listed?

No. You may reduce or reject some or all of the offered loans or work awards and still receive the offered scholarships and grants. Rejected loans and work awards may result in unmet financial need. CMU will not replace rejected loans and work awards with additional scholarships or grant awards.

Student Loans

Q. Do I have to go to a bank to get an application for a Stafford Loan?

Central Michigan University participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program. No separate application is necessary. The OSFA will notify you of your eligibility for a student loan and the steps you must take to activate the loan(s).

Q. What is a Master Promissory Note (MPN)?

It is a single promissory note that may be used for all of a borrower’s Federal Direct Subsidized and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The MPN does not include a specific loan amount since it may serve as the promissory note for future loans. Loans for subsequent years will not require a new promissory note as long as the borrower is at a school in the Direct Loan Program. The borrower is agreeing when he or she signs the MPN to repay the lender (the U.S. Department of Education) all loans made to the borrower under the terms of the MPN. It is important for the borrower to read all of the information on the MPN before signing it. 

Q. What is a Disclosure Statement?

The Disclosure Statement is sent to the borrower (student and/or parent) from the Direct Loan Origination Center. It gives the borrower specific information about loan types (subsidized and unsubsidized (student loans) or Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) [parent loan]), amounts and anticipated disbursement dates for each new loan that they borrow. It is mailed to the borrower's permanent address. The borrower should keep the disclosure statement for their records since this provides the information on the individual loans that are included in the Master Promissory Note.

Q. What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized student loan?

The federal government pays the interest for the student during the student’s enrollment and through most deferments, the borrower qualifies for. If the student’s loans are unsubsidized the student is responsible for the interest during school, the student’s grace period and any deferments.

Q. Can a graduate student receive a subsidized loan?

Effective 7/1/12, Congress has eliminated subsidized graduate student loans.

Q. If my student has an unsubsidized loan, must they pay the interest while in school?

The student has the choice of paying the interest quarterly or allowing the loan servicer to add the interest to the loan (capitalization).

Q. If my parents borrow the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), when do they start repaying the loan?

The first payment is due within 60 days of the second disbursement. The first payment will be due in February or March for most of our PLUS borrowers. Your parent borrower may also elect deferring loan repayment while you are enrolled in school.

Q. Is there a Master Promissory Note for PLUS Loans?

Yes. Your parent may complete the PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) online. 

Q. What happens if the PLUS Loan is denied?

Your parent and the OSFA will receive notification from the Direct Loan Origination Center of credit denial. The OSFA will automatically process an additional unsubsidized loan up to $4000 for a freshman/sophomore or up to $5000 for a junior/senior. The notification from Direct Loans will outline the options available to your parent to contest the credit denial or to secure an eligible endorser.

Q. My parents don’t want to borrow a PLUS Loan. They think all loans should be in the student’s name. How can we do this?

If your parents are willing to co-sign a loan for you, there are alternative loans that may be borrowed by the student through private lenders.

Q. How are loan proceeds paid to the student?

Federal Direct Subsidized, Federal Direct Unsubsidized, and Federal PLUS Loans are paid directly to student accounts in two disbursements. One disbursement is applied in the fall and one disbursement is applied in the spring. Any excess funds will be sent to the student.

Q. Is there anything I must do before the loan proceeds are applied to my account?

Yes. If you do not have a prior Master Promissory Note (MPN) on file with the Direct Loan Program you must complete an (MPN) and Entrance Counseling online. Once this has been done and you meet all other eligibility requirements the loan(s) will be applied to your student account.

Q. Must we borrow as much as you have suggested on the award notice?

No. The amount on the award notice is your maximum eligibility for student loans based on the budget, student grade level, status and the student’s other financial aid. You need to decide as a family what you will be able to manage without loans and then how much you need to borrow.

Financial Aid

Q. What forms are needed to apply for financial aid?

For all types of federal, state and most institutional student aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Renewal FAFSA each year. CMU strongly encourages all students to submit the FAFSA.

Q. When do I apply for financial aid?

Students must apply for financial aid every year. The FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) or Renewal FAFSA on the Web should be completed as quickly as possible after October 1 each year. For optimal consideration, all students must submit the FOTW or Renewal FOTW by February 15 each year. Applications received after the priority deadline will continue to be processed throughout the academic year. Financial aid offers are based on a combination of funds available and financial need.

Q. What types of financial aid are covered by this application?

  • Federal Aid:
    • Federal Pell Grants
    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
    • Federal Direct Loans
    • Federal Work-Study
  • State Aid:
    • Michigan Competitive Scholarship
    • Michigan Adult Part-time Grant
    • Michigan Work-Study
  • CMU Aid:
    • CMU Grants

Q. What other sources of aid are available?

There are many local, state and national organizations that grant scholarship funds. A comprehensive free scholarship search service is available on the Financial Aid Information Page. Students should click on FastWeb for an individualized scholarship search.

Q. How do I apply for a Pell Grant?

When you complete the FAFSA, you are automatically considered for a Pell Grant.

Q. How do you get a student loan?

CMU includes student federal loan eligibility as part of the financial aid award offer. Students must apply for financial aid to be considered for federal student loans.

Q. What do I do with the Student Aid Report (SAR) that I received?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA. SARs are sent electronically to the email address you provided on the FAFSA. Review the SAR and make corrections online. If you are correcting parent data, as well as student data, both you and your parent must use your FSA IDs to electronically sign the SAR. If you did not provide an email address, a paper SAR is mailed to you. Read the comments and review the data presented on the SAR to determine that the information is accurate. Make any corrections necessary on the SAR and sign and return it to the Central Processing Service (CPS). The corrected information will automatically be sent to all schools listed on the SAR. If all the information is correct, keep the SAR with your other financial aid documents for your records.

Q. My SAR said I was selected for verification. What is it and what do I need to do?

Verification is a process of review that determines the accuracy of the information submitted by the student and family on the FAFSA and that resolves conflicting data resulting from changes made by the student and family on the SAR. If you are selected for verification by CMU, you will receive a request for documentation. This request may include W-2 forms, parent and student tax transcripts and other records. Please wait until you receive a request from CMU before mailing your documentation.

Q. If my parents are separated or divorced, do they both have to contribute to my education?

When completing the FAFSA, financial information for the custodial parent and current spouse must be reported. The non-custodial parent is not required to report information. If the student is receiving money from the non-custodial parent for educational expenses, the student must also report that amount on the FAFSA.

Q. How does having more than one student in the family attending college impact financial aid eligibility?

Families with two or more students attending college have the parent contribution (PC) adjusted by the number of students who will be enrolled at least half-time in a certificate or degree-granting program for at least one semester. For example, in a family with a PC of $3000, the contribution per student would be as follows: One student = $3000; two students = $1500 per student; three students = $1000 per student.

Q. How do I become an independent student for federal aid purposes?

Independent Student Definition

To be considered an independent student for 2021-2022, you must meet at least ONE of the following conditions:

  1. Were you born before January 1, 1998?

  2. As of today, are you married? (Also answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)

  3. At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?

  4. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed forces for purposes other than training?

  5. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?

  6. Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2022?

  7. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2022?

  8. At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

  9. Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

  10. Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

  11. At any time on or after July 1, 2020, did one of the following individuals determine you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless:

    • High school or school district homeless liaison.

    • Director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by HUD.

    • Director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program.

Q. What is the difference between the University Billing Office and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA)?

These two offices are separate from one another administratively. The OSFA awards scholarships, grants, loans and work-study. The University Billing Office sends bills, collects payments for university charges, and sends refund checks. Financial aid is disbursed to student accounts to help meet university charges. Financial aid advisors in the Student Service Court can assist students with all financial aid and receivable accounting activities.


Q. How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid award offer?

Federal regulations require that students who receive Federal Title IV aid may not receive more financial aid than their demonstrated financial need. Your award offer will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. CMU will first reduce your loan or work award. We will send you a revised financial aid notice that reflects the changes in your award.

Q. How are outside scholarships disbursed?

  1. Non-CMU Scholarship disbursement policy: Estimated scholarships, i.e., Michigan Competitive, Michigan Promise and outside agency, will not reduce the amount of tuition payable by posted deadlines.

  2. Donors may specify the semester(s) in which the scholarship is paid.

  3. If a student wants the scholarship distributed in a way that differs from what the donor requests, the student will be asked to get an authorization letter from the donor.

  4. If the donor letter does not specify a distribution schedule, CMU will disburse scholarships of $500 or less in the fall semester. Scholarships over $500 will be split with half in the fall and half in the spring.

  5. If the scholarship has been split and the donor has not given instructions, the student may request the entire award be moved to the fall semester. However, the student is then cautioned that they may be short of funds for the spring semester.

Q. Do I need to tell you about a scholarship that I am receiving from my high school or an organization in the community?

Yes. If you are receiving federal aid, we are required to include the scholarship in your offer. In addition, most scholarship donors send the checks to the University and make them payable to CMU and the student. This is done to verify that you are enrolled at CMU. Informing us early reduces the number of corrections that must be made to your financial aid and allows us to begin processing any loans included in your offer.

Q. If I have the MET or Michigan Competitive scholarship, am I eligible to receive the Leader Advancement and other merit scholarships if offered?

Yes. The value of the CMU merit scholarship and Leader Advancement scholarships can be used toward room and board.

Q. Are scholarships available regardless of financial need?

Yes. Scholarships are awarded to students based on high academic achievement, athletic ability, or another talent without consideration of need.

Q. Are new freshmen eligible for the donor-endowed scholarships listed in the CMU Bulletin?

Very few of the bulletin scholarships are available to incoming freshmen. Most scholarships require that the student have a signed major and an established GPA in a specific field of study.

Q. If I don’t achieve the GPA required to renew my CMU scholarship by the end of the fall semester, will I lose my scholarship?

No. The grade point average for scholarships is reviewed at the end of the academic year, so you will have two semesters to meet the GPA requirement.

Q. If I drop out of school for one semester, will my CMU scholarship be renewed?

No. You must maintain full-time continuous enrollment at CMU to renew your scholarship.

Q. If there is a delay in receiving my outside scholarship, what should I do?

Please contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Unless you are enrolled full-time (minimum of 12 credit hours), the scholarship will not automatically pay to your account. Most outside agencies require that the student be enrolled full-time to receive the scholarship.

Q. Should I return an outside agency scholarship check as payment with my billing statement to the CMU University Billing Office?

No. If you choose to pay your bill with an outside agency scholarship check, we suggest that you send the bill and check to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. The payment will be applied promptly.

Q. If I scored 23 or above on my ACT and received a notice that I am eligible for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship, when should I expect to receive it?

The Michigan Competitive Scholarship award is based on your ACT score and financial need as determined by the federal application process. If you listed another school first on your FAFSA, the Michigan Office of Scholarships and Grants will assume you are attending that school. You will need to notify the Michigan Office of Scholarships and Grants of your decision to attend CMU. You can do this by sending them the bottom portion of the Michigan Competitive Award Notice requesting that the award be sent to CMU or by calling their toll-free number: 1-888-447-2687