Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements for Undergraduate Students
Applicants for aid under Federal programs such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, and the Federal Direct Student Loan Program(s) must meet the following criteria:
- Students must be U.S. citizens, national or permanent residents.
- Students must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis (six hours) in a regular degree-seeking program.
- Students may not be in default on any student loan or be obligated to pay a refund to any Federal Aid program received at any institution.
- An applicant must be an undergraduate student who has not previously received a Bachelor's degree. Graduate students may apply for financial aid from the Federal Perkins Loan and Federal Direct Stafford programs. An applicant must demonstrate financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA).
- Recipients must maintain "satisfactory academic progress" in their chosen course of study. Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress / Financial Aid Warning, Suspension, and Probation
To maintain aid eligibility, federal regulations require that all federal financial aid recipients maintain satisfactory academic progress toward a degree. Cumberland University monitors each student who receives federal aid to ensure that their cumulative GPA, completion rate, and maximum time limits for the completion of a degree meet requirements. Students should note that this standard may differ from the “good standing” policy of the University.
To be eligible for financial aid, undergraduate and graduate students’ cumulative GPA must meet at least the minimum requirements indicated in the undergraduate and graduate catalog, respectively. Only course work taken at Cumberland University is used to calculate satisfactory academic process. Grades will be reviewed at the end of each semester.
The following standards of progress are used to determine good standing for Undergraduate students:
Students must, at a minimum, complete the requirement for cumulative credit hours for which they receive Federal student financial assistance payments as follows:
|0 - 29 semester hours attempted||1.50 GPA|
|30-59 semester hours attempted||1.80 GPA|
|60 + semester hours attempted||2.00 GPA|
Students must earn an “overall combined” 67% of cumulative attempted credit hours, including withdrawals, incompletes, courses repeated, and courses receiving non-passing grades, i.e., “I,” “FA,” “FC,” “W,” “WF, ”or “F.” Course work taken at Cumberland University and transfer hours from other universities/colleges attended are used to calculate overall completion rate, even if financial aid was not awarded for those courses. Completion rate will be reviewed at the end of each semester.
The maximum time for the completion of a first undergraduate degree is limited to 150% of the program’s published length, typically 180 credit hours. Maximum hours include all hours from Cumberland University and transfer hours from other universities/colleges attended, even if financial aid was not awarded for those courses.
Note: Please see the last day of attendance and withdrawal date sections found in the Withdrawal Process section of this document.
Students who are in “Financial Aid Good Standing” will be placed on “Financial Aid Warning” if their completion rate becomes less than the required 67%. During the semester that students are in a “Warning” status, they remain eligible for financial aid. Students will change from a “Warning” status to a “Financial Aid Suspension” status if a cumulative “overall combined” 67% is not earned by the end of the “Warning” semester.
Students who were previously placed on “Financial Aid Warning” and did not achieve 67% of their cumulative “overall combined” attempted credit hours will be suspended from eligibility for federal grants, loans, federal work-study employment, and Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarships and the Tennessee Student Assistance Award.
Students may appeal financial aid suspensions if sufficient documentation can be provided to justify why satisfactory progress was not made. Please refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress section of our catalog for more details.
Students who have a suspension appeal approved will be placed on “Financial Aid Probation” and will be eligible for financial aid. To maintain eligibility, they are required to earn 75% of their attempted credit hours for each semester until regaining a “Good Standing” status (“overall combined” 67% or above).
Forms of Financial Aid
Grants are awarded on the basis of financial need and/or talent and generally do not require repayment unless an over-award has occurred or incorrect information has been provided.
- The Federal Pell Grant Program is the largest Federal student aid program. The purpose of the program is to ensure that all eligible students have at least a portion of the necessary money to meet college expenses. The amount of each Federal Pell Grant depends on the student's financial need, the cost of education, and the enrollment status of the student.
- A Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is an award to help undergraduates pay for their education. The amount that a student receives depends upon financial need, the amount of money the school has for the program, and the amount of aid the student receives from other programs. Federal Pell Grant recipients receive priority in FSEOG awards.
- Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) is a need-based grant provided by the State of Tennessee. Any Tennessee resident who is or will be enrolled as an undergraduate is eligible, and the actual amount of time the student will be enrolled during the year. Students are encouraged to apply early.
- Athletic Grants at Cumberland University support intercollegiate athletic teams in various sports for men and women. Athletic Grants are available for some, but not all, of the sports depending on the division in which the University participates. Awards are based on need and/or talent. Students must meet the NAIA requirements, as well as the Cumberland requirement of a 2.00 cumulative GPA.
- Fine Arts Scholarships support several areas of fine arts. Areas include band, chorus, art, theatre and dance. Scholarships are awarded by the directors of the area of interest with the direction of the department chairperson. Awards are based upon need and/or talent and participation.
Loans are often included in the award package. Loans allow students to defer the cost of their education by borrowing now and paying later. Cumberland University is a borrower-based institution.
- Federal Perkins Loans, formerly National Direct Student Loans, are low-interest (5%) loans available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Repayment and interest charges begin after the student drops below half-time status. All Perkins Loan recipients must participate in an exit interview if they do not plan to return to Cumberland University the following academic year. Pell Grant recipients receive priority in Perkins Loan awards.
- The Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan Program allows undergraduate and graduate students to borrow money to help pay for college expenses. These low-interest rate loans are usually insured by the guarantee agency in the student's resident state and reinsured by the Federal Government. Repayment does not begin, nor does interest accrue, until six months after the student ceases to be enrolled as at least a half-time student. As of October 1986, the Federal Stafford Loan program became a need-based program.
- The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan allows students who do not qualify for Federal interest subsidies under the Federal Stafford Loan Program to borrow money for college expenses. The combination of subsidized and unsubsidized Federal loans for a borrower may not exceed the annual and aggregate limits for loans under the Federal Stafford Loan Program.
- The Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program offers parents of dependent students another option in financing their students' education. Repayment begins immediately.
- Alternative Loans are available for students from a number of different lenders who participate with the University. These loans generally do not require the completion of the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), may be based upon ability to repay and may carry a slightly higher rate of interest than Federal Subsidized or Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
Applying for Financial Aid
"How am I going to pay for college?" It's a question you may have been asking yourself as of late. Although financing a college education may appear to be a daunting task, there are many resources to help you and your parents. One of the best ways to reach your goal is to ask as many questions as possible. Taking the time to ask questions now may save you money in the future.
The Due Date
Financial Assistance is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The priority deadline at Cumberland University is February 1. Students filing applications after that date will be considered on a funds-available basis.
Apply to Cumberland University
Complete a Cumberland University application. The Student Financial Services office will use some of the information provided on your application to begin your financial aid process.
Complete The FAFSA
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)online at fafsa.ed.gov. Apply as soon after January 1 as possible. You do not have to complete your tax return to fill out the FAFSA, as you may use estimated income information. The deadline for some state grants can be as early as February 1. Paper FAFSAs may be obtained by calling 1-800-4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). Paper FAFSAs will no longer be available from the University.
Re-apply Each Year
Due to changes in Federal guidelines and individual financial status, students must reapply for financial aid each year.
Determination of type and amount of financial assistance will be made by the Director of Student Financial Services. This determination will take into consideration the applicant's need as established by need analysis and the programs for which the applicant qualifies.
- Students whose financial aid files are complete before the priority deadline of February 1 will be given priority over those applying after that date.
- Qualified applicants receive notice of their award by the Cumberland University Financial Aid Award Letter. Financial assistance is awarded for the entire academic year, but is subject to recession if a student fails to meet eligibility criteria for the second semester of the award year.
- Students may accept or decline the different sources which encompass their financial aid package. For those who decline any portion, the University will not replace the source with monies from other programs.
- Financial aid awards are not credited to the student's account until the student enrolls and shows attendance for the semester(s) for which the award has been made.
- Awards of Federal and state monies are subject to funding by the government.
- Students who receive Federal money and withdraw from the University may be required to repay part of the Title IV monies. Refer to the University Refund Policy for more information.
- Financial aid is typically awarded on an academic year basis. Cumberland University defines an academic year as 32 weeks consisting of a fall and spring semester. Institutional aid is only available during the academic year. Student wishing to enroll in classes during a summer semester should check with the Student Financial Services office to determine eligibility for any federal or state financial aid, including student loans.
Cumberland University Verification Policy
Each year the federal government and/or Cumberland University Financial Aid Services Office randomly selects financial aid recipients for verification. The verification process requires that we review the information reported on the FAFSA and check for accuracy against documentation you provide to our office.
The U.S. Department of Education has moved towards a more individualized verification process where only certain elements of verification are performed on particular students. This means that Cumberland University may not require the same documentation from each student selected for verification.
If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to submit a verification worksheet (and may also need to provide copies of Federal Return Transcripts (see the IRS Data Retrieval Tool section below) and W-2 forms/Schedule C or F. You should not submit tax return transcripts or other verification documentation unless the Student Financial Services Office requests it.
All students will be notified by postal mail, email, and phone. If a cell number is available, we may also send you a request to contact the office by text message. The SFS office will use the address provided to admissions and/or the address provided on the FAFSA to request documentation by mail. Contact by email or phone will be to the information provided on the admission application or FAFSA.
In most cases, if you or your parents (if a dependent student) have utilized the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing your FAFSA, we will no longer require a copy of your Federal Return Transcript. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool helps streamline the FAFSA by allowing tax filers to pull specific tax return data directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. The retrieval tool saves you time and increases the accuracy of your FAFSA information.
If at the time you filed your initial FAFSA, you or your parents (if dependent student) had not yet filed a Federal Tax Return, you should update your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool once your tax return has been filed with the IRS.
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool cannot be used until you and/or your parents have filed taxes.
- Electronically filed tax return information will be available online from the IRS site within 2-3 weeks after the return has been filed.
- Data from paper tax returns will be available in 6-8 weeks.
You are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if:
- You did not file a federal tax return .
- You filed an amended federal tax return.
- Your marital status changed after December 31st.
- Your federal tax return filing status is "married filing separately".
- You filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.
- You filed a tax return using a Tax ID Number.
- You applied for a Federal IRS Tax Filing Extension.
- Your home address on the FAFSA does not match the address on the tax return.
For more information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, please visit www.fafsa.gov.
- An institution may not delay completing verification for an applicant when a tax filing extension has been granted by the IRS. The income and tax verification regulatory requirements are met if a tax filer who has been granted a filing extension by the IRS provides the institution with a copy of IRS Form 4868 and a copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for the tax year; and if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the AGI and the U.S. income tax paid for the tax year.
- A student and/or parent who has filed a tax return extension and who submits the appropriate documentation to the financial aid office will receive an estimated financial aid award. However, funds may not be disbursed until after the tax return is filed, and the filer either uses the IRS DRT on the FAFSA, or submits an IRS Tax Return Transcript. If the required documentation is not submitted by the established institutional deadline of December 1st, any federal, state, or institutional aid previously received for that award year may be returned by the student and no additional need-based aid will be disbursed for that award year.
Verification documents should be submitted as soon after notification as possible or at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester. In addition:
- For Pell Grant recipients, all verification documents, along with a verified SAR or ISIR must be received no later than the earlier of 120 days after the student's last day of enrollment in the award year.
- For Direct Loan and other various financial aid program recipients, all verification documents, along with a verified SAR or ISIR must be received ten business days prior to the last day of the student’s enrollment.
There are negative consequences resulting from failure to complete verification within a timely manner including limited funding availability. Our goal is to help you to avoid these consequences. Verification regulations require the following:
- Verification may result in FAFSA corrections that change your award amounts and the amount you owe.
- Estimated financial aid awards may be removed if verification is not completed within specified deadlines.
- Financial aid funds will not be applied as payment to your student account or disbursed to you until the verification process is completed.
Financial Aid Services has the right after reviewing verification information to change or cancel an award based on the information provided. If verification results in changes to an applicant's financial aid eligibility, a revised award notice will be mailed to the permanent address and/or sent to the student's Cumberland University email address.
Please keep in mind that due to heavy volume in the summer and early fall, there may be a delay of up to 10 business days in the review of verification materials submitted.
Once selected for verification individuals who choose not to complete the federal verification process will not be eligible for any federal or state financial aid including federal loans. Please contact the Student Financial Services Office for any specific questions or concerns.
Individuals who have purposely-misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain financial aid funds will be reported to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General.