Eligibility for Aid
A Deep Dive into Financial Aid
Financial aid can seem very complicated at times. So we've tried to map it out for you.
MCPHS University considers all eligible students with a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for all possible funding sources including federal, state, and college programs.
A student will be considered for financial aid if he or she is:
- A citizen or eligible non-citizen of the United States
- Registered with the Selective Service or is exempt from registration
- Not in default on any federal student loan or owing a refund on any federal grant
Other important factors in the financial aid process may include a student's:
- Degree Standing
- Dependency Status
- Enrollment Status
- Academic Standing
- Prior Bachelor's Degree
- Massachusetts Residency
A student's standing as an undergraduate or masters/doctoral student is an important factor in the financial aid process. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) asks students to identify whether they are in an undergraduate or masters/doctoral or graduate/professional program. MCPHS University determines degree standing on the criteria below (independent of whether students earned prior bachelor's or graduate degrees):
- All years of the PharmD programs in Worcester and Manchester are considered graduate.*
- The final two years of the PharmD program in Boston are considered graduate. All other years are considered undergraduate.
- All years of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Programs in Boston, Worcester and Manchester are considered graduate.
- All master's programs and the Postbaccalaureate PharmD Pathway program are considered graduate from a financial aid point of view.
- All other programs are considered undergraduate.
*There are rare exceptions to this rule for Worcester and Manchester PharmD students; please contact your Student Financial Services counselor to be sure of your status.
MCPHS University uses the U.S. Department of Education's definition of dependency status for all federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid programs.
For the 2016-2017 school year (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017), the U.S. Department of Education considers the following students to be independent for purposes of awarding federal financial aid:
- Students who were born before January 1, 1993.
- Students who are orphans, in foster care, or were wards of the court as of age 13.
- Students who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Students who have children, if they provide more than half of the support for the child.
- Students who have dependents (other than a child or spouse) living with them, if they provide more than half of the support for the dependent.
- Students who are married.
- Students who will be graduate/professional students in 2016-2017 (see Degree Standing to determine if you are considered a graduate/professional student for financial aid purposes).
- Students who are serving on active duty in the armed forces for purposes other than training.
- Students who are or were emancipated minors as determined by a court.
- Students who are or were in a legal guardianship as determined by a court.
- Students who are or were considered an unaccompanied youth who was homeless on or after July 1, 2015.
Parental data must be provided on the FAFSA for students unable to answer yes to one of the criteria listed above.
Student Financial Services is able to provide a "dependency override" in situations where the student does not meet one of the listed criteria but should be considered independent due to unusual circumstances. However, none of the conditions listed below qualify as unusual circumstances or merit dependency override:
- Parents refuse to contribute to student's education
- Parents unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for tax purposes
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
Students who need assistance in determining their dependency status or who are considering a dependency override appeal should contact Student Financial Services to discuss the situation with their Counselor.
Financial aid awards are based on full-time attendance at the University.
Full-time attendance is defined as a minimum of twelve (12) credits per semester for undergraduate students and nine (9) credits per semester for graduate students. (See Degree Standing to determine if you are considered a masters/doctoral or graduate/professional student for financial aid purposes).
The Office of Student Financial Services reviews enrollment for all students receiving financial aid at the end of the official add/drop period each semester and also makes the necessary adjustments to financial aid awards. (Note: Students enrolled in their required clinical rotations/clerkships will be considered as enrolled full-time regardless of credit load.)
The following programs require full-time undergraduate enrollment. Less than full-time enrollment will result in complete loss of the award.
- Gilbert Grant
- Health Professions Loan
- MASS Grant
- Most State Grants
- MCPHS University Merit-Based Scholarships
The following programs are pro-rated based on undergraduate enrollment status. For these programs, students will have their awards reduced 25% if they are enrolled in 9-11 credits, they will be reduced by 50% if they are enrolled in 6-8 credits, and are not eligible for these programs if they are enrolled in 1-5 credits.
- Federal Pell Grant (Undergraduate students enrolled in 1-5 credits receive a pro-rated portion of the Pell grant)*
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant for Undergraduate Students (FSEOG)
- MCPHS University Need-Based Scholarship
*Students can receive a Pell Grant for a maximum of twelve semesters.
The following programs require at least half-time undergraduate enrollment. Less than half-time enrollment will result in complete loss of the award.
Half-time enrollment is defined as six (6) credits for undergraduate students.
- Federal Perkins Loan
- Federal Parent PLUS and Loan
- Federal Direct Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
- Federal Work-Study
- Most Alternative Loans
The following programs require at least half-time graduate enrollment. Half-time enrollment is defined as five (5) credits for graduate students.
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
- Federal Graduate PLUS Loan
- Most Alternative Loans
Satisfactory Academic Progress
The University is required to establish minimum standards of "satisfactory academic progress" for students receiving financial aid. The University applies these standards to all federal, state and institutional funds.
The Office of Student Financial Services will only disburse financial aid to those students who are in good academic standing and are making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree.
A student is not making satisfactory academic progress if any of the following conditions exist:
- The student's cumulative grade point average (GPA) is below 2.0 at the end of their second year of his/her academic program. Grade point averages are reviewed by the Academic Standing Committee at the end of each semester.
- The student completes (finishes with a passing grade) less than 66% of all attempted coursework, as calculated at the end of spring semester each year. Grades of "W" (withdrawn) and "I" (incomplete) are not considered passing grades.
- The student may not exceed the maximum time frame of attempted credits (150%) of the published length of his/her degree program.
Satisfactory academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester. If a student is not making satisfactory academic progress he or she will be placed on financial aid warning. A student then has one semester to make satisfactory progress. If after one semester on financial aid warning, a student is not making satisfactory academic progress, the student becomes ineligible for aid.
Students who are ineligible for financial aid because they are not making satisfactory academic progress may appeal. Appeals are considered when a student has been able to complete coursework in a fashion that corrects the reason that caused him/her to lose financial aid eligibility, or when extraordinary circumstances (for example, student illness, the illness or death of a family member) have prevented the student from achieving satisfactory academic progress. Students considering a satisfactory academic progress appeal should contact the Office of Student Financial Services to make an appointment.
Prior Bachelor's Degree
Students who have a prior baccalaureate degree are not eligible for certain grant programs, including:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
- Most state scholarship/grant programs
Massachusetts residency is defined as those students who have resided in Massachusetts for purposes other than attending college for at least one year prior to the beginning of the academic year.
Parents of dependent students must also have resided in Massachusetts for at least one year prior to the beginning of the academic year. Programs funded by the Commonwealth are limited to undergraduate students. Students who have already completed a prior bachelor's degree are not eligible for financial aid programs funded by the Commonwealth.