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Frequently Asked Questions

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Student Refund Information

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an EFC?

The expected family contribution, or EFC, is a number calculated by applying federal methodology to the information provided by the student and parents on the FAFSA. The EFC represents an index of the family's ability to contribute toward the student's education.  It should not be interpreted to mean that it is the amount for which the family will write a check.

Financial need is the difference between the EFC and the cost of attendance. Typically, a combination of grants, loans, campus employment, and scholarships fill up some of the financial need. However, the family is financially responsible for the difference between the college cost and the amount of financial aid received.

All students (who have a valid FAFSA on file) can borrow through the Direct Loan Program even if they do not show financial need. Parents can borrow the amount of the expected family contribution through the PLUS loan or through private loans. If the parent/s are denied a PLUS loan, the student may borrow an additional amount through the federal Direct Loan program.

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Is financial aid available for the winter session?

The winter session is a separate term. There will be separate tuition charges, and financial aid does not disburse for this term. In some cases, your spring financial aid can be utilized to help cover these separate winter charges. Also, if you are not enrolled full-time for the spring term, your winter session classes will be combined with your spring schedule for financial aid eligibility and reporting purposes.

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Is there a maximum income level which automatically makes families ineligible for financial aid?

No. We strongly encourage all families to file the FAFSA. While a family's income and assets are part of the formula used to determine financial need, there are other variables involved, such as family size and the number in college. Since the federal and state formulas that determine families' eligibility for aid change often, it would be unwise for anyone to assume that they will not qualify for financial aid.

Families should remember that Direct Loans are available to students who file the FAFSA, regardless of financial need. Also, most students are eligible for campus employment regardless of need. Additionally, while financial need is a criterion for some scholarships, other scholarships may have no such specification.

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My parents are not helping me pay for college. Is there anything I can do?

Why are your parents not helping you? If you feel that your circumstances are extraordinary (for example, you are being raised by your grandparents), you should contact the Student Financial Services Office. If your parents do not feel that they can afford to pay for college for you, you should encourage your parents to file the FAFSA anyway. Remind them that filing the FAFSA does not obligate them to pay for your college expenses; it only requires them to provide accurate financial information. All students who complete the FAFSA are eligible for the federal Direct Loan. You may be eligible for federal or state grants as well.

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Why did my friend receive more financial aid than I did?

Federal and state grants are awarded on the basis of financial need. It is possible that your friend is receiving need-based financial aid and that his/her financial need is higher than yours.

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We have two students enrolled at Clarion. Is there any kind of discount available for two students from the same family enrolled at the same time?

The good news is that having two children enrolled in college at the same time usually reduces your EFC significantly. The bad news is that Clarion University does not offer a tuition discount for two or more students enrolled from the same family.

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Do you recommend any consultants to help us file the FAFSA or any companies to help us search for scholarships?

We strongly discourage you from paying any company or individual (including your accountant) to file the FAFSA or to complete a scholarship search for you. Be wary of any firm that wants to charge you money for filing a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), for generating a list of "guaranteed" sources of funding, or for securing a specific scholarship.  

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I am a traditional age college student, and I just became a mother. Is there any extra financial aid available to me?

If you provide more than 51% of the financial support for your self and your child (housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, medicine, etc.), you may file the FAFSA as an independent student. For financial aid purposes, only your income and assets and those of your spouse would be considered in the federal formula to determine your eligibility for need-based aid.

Beyond the federal and state grants and federal loans already listed, there is no special college financial aid program for mothers.

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I am a traditional age college student, and I plan to be married soon. How will this affect my financial aid?

You can be considered as independent for federal financial aid purposes (only your income and assets will be considered, not your parents) if you file the FAFSA after you are married. However, if you are married after May 1, and file the FAFSA after May 1, you will be considered late for PHEAA state grant purposes. Please note that if you file the FAFSA before you are married, you cannot then be reconsidered for the same academic year.

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Where is my student loan?

Check for the following:

  • Have you completed the FAFSA?  If not, go to to complete your application.  The FAFSA must be completed every year in order to be eligible for aid.
  • Have you completed your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and entrance counseling?  Go to to complete these items.  Both items only need to be completed once.  The MPN is valid for ten years.  If you are a transfer student, you must complete exit counseling for your previous school and then complete entrance counseling for Clarion University.
  • Have you been selected for federal verification, or has it not been completed yet? Sign in to your MyClarion account to review your To Do List on the Student Center to see what items are required for verification to be complete.  If you are certain that you have submitted all required documents to the Student Financial Services Office, call us at 814 393 2315 to see when verification will be completed.
  • Are we waiting for notification of all of your financial aid awards?  Before we can determine the amount of your loan(s), we must be notified of all of your financial aid awards, including outside scholarships, military benefits, OVR, etc.
  • Are you certain that you made satisfactory academic progress (SAP) during the last loan period?   To review the full SAP policy, click here.
  • Have you made an error on the MPN, and PHEAA is waiting for you to make a correction?
  • Has the bank forwarded your money? It generally takes 7 to 10 working days for the bank to send the loan funds to Clarion after we have certified the loan.
  • Are you taking at least 6 credits?  We cannot certify a Direct Loan if you are enrolled for less than 6 credits. 
  • Have you completed the current semester? We cannot certify a loan for summer or for the next academic year until you have completed this semester (or this summer's) courses, and the Registrar has recorded your grades.

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We received a letter from your office asking us about our untaxed income. What is that?

The FAFSA asks about any sources of income or assets that a family received in the last tax year. Frequently, families have some income that is untaxed. If you were selected for verification by the federal financial aid processor, you may be asked to provide more detailed information about the type, source, and amount of any untaxed income. Examples of untaxed income are: payments to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, child support received, alimony, social security, disability pay, earned income credit, child care tax credits, worker's compensation, cash gifts or other benefits, welfare and TANF benefits.

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Why didn't I get a Pell/PHEAA grant this year?

Likely reasons include:

  • You may not have a current FAFSA on file.
  • You may not have listed Clarion University as a recipient of your information on your FAFSA.
  • You may have filed past the PA state grant deadline of May 1.
  • Your FAFSA or PHEAA grant application may be incomplete.
  • You may not have made satisfactory academic progress.
  • You or your parents' income or assets may have increased to the extent that you are no longer eligible for grant aid.
  • Your family size or number in college may have decreased.
  • You may have made an error reporting income, untaxed income, taxes paid, or assets.

Contact the Student Financial Services Office to see if your situation can be resolved.

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Why is my grant lower this year than last year?

  • Your and/or your parents' income or assets may have been higher last year than in prior years.
  • You and/or your parents may have had significant untaxed income in the past year.
  • Your family size or the number in college may have decreased.
  • If you are transferring to Clarion, your previous school may have cost more than Clarion.
  • You may have made an error in reporting income, assets, or other information.

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 How do I view, accept, and/or decline my Federal Direct Loans?

For step-by-step instructions on how to view, accept, and/or decline your Federal Direct Loans, please click here.

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Last Updated 12/1/22