Mercyhurst Campus

Your Guide to Financial Aid

As you and your family consider your various college offers, remember that a college education is more than a four-year commitment; it is an investment that will yield benefits throughout your lifetime. And because we believe in the value of a Mercyhurst education, we want to be sure we’re providing competitive, affordable financial aid offers for students to attend this university.

At Mercyhurst University, we understand that paying for a private college education is often a concern for students and families. As you and your family consider your various college offers, remember that a college education is more than a four-year commitment; it is an investment that will yield benefits throughout your lifetime. And because we believe in the value of a Mercyhurst education, we want to be sure we’re providing competitive, affordable financial aid offers for students to attend this university.

Throughout the financial aid process, as questions arise, we encourage you to consult this webpage for detailed information on your financial aid award, as well as the availability of scholarships and loans in general. Your admissions counselor is also available to answer your questions or walk you through your financial aid offer to help you understand the bottom line.

Key Financial Aid Dates

  • December 2023 – The 2024-2025 FAFSA becomes available.
  • April 30, 2024 – Deadline to file FAFSA for Pennsylvania State Grant eligibility (Pennsylvania residents only).
  • Summer 2024 – Complete your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling. Your federal student loans will not post to your account until you have completed these documents. New students: watch your application portal over the summer for MPN and Entrance Counseling instructions as part of virtual orientation. 
  • August 2024 – Fall semester payments are due.

Financial Aid Terminology


The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is always the first step to applying for financial aid. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid. Visit the Student Aid website to complete the FAFSA. When you are prompted to enter a school code, please use our school code, 003297, to send your results to Mercyhurst. For additional information on filing the FAFSA, visit our Applying for Financial Aid webpage.


Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is the username and password that you use to log in to the FAFSA. For dependent students, both the student and a parent must have their own unique FSA ID. Create your FSA ID by visiting the Student Aid website. There is no charge for this service


A Student Aid Report (SAR) is generated when a student successfully files the FAFSA; it includes a summary of the information you submitted.


Cost of Attendance (COA) refers to the total cost of room, board, tuition, and fees for a college or university. Travel expenses, books, and other expenses related to attending college are also factored into COA. Students can borrow up to their COA, which may result in a refund of excess student loan funds.


The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is used to determine a student’s financial need. Generated when a student completes the FAFSA, the EFC is a number between 0 and 999,999. The EFC is not a student’s bill or financial aid offer, but a tool to provide an idea of what the student’s family can reasonably be expected to pay. Please note: for the 2024-2025 financial aid year, the Department of Education has renamed this number the Student Aid Index (SAI).


A student’s need is calculated by taking the COA and subtracting the student’s EFC.


PHEAA refers to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which administers the Pennsylvania State Grant financial assistance program. Pennsylvania residents can apply for the Pennsylvania State Grant after completing the FAFSA on the PHEAA website

Entrance Counseling

Entrance Counseling is required for students who are borrowing a federal student loan. This online session explains the terms and conditions of borrowing a federal loan. Entrance Counseling must be completed before a student’s loan can be disbursed.

Master Promissory Note

The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is the legal document required for students borrowing a federal student loan. The MPN can be completed online through the federal student aid website. 

Types of Financial Aid

Federal Pell Grant

This grant is offered to students based on financial need.

PA State Grants

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) offers the state grant to Pennsylvania residents who have filed the FAFSA by PHEAA’s deadline (April 30, 2023) and demonstrate financial need. State Grant amounts range from $500 to $4,000. 

Federal Subsidized Loan

This loan is offered to students who have filed the FAFSA and qualify based on need. Federal subsidized loans range up to $3,500 for first-year students. 

Federal Unsubsidized Loan

This loan is offered to students who have filed the FAFSA. Federal unsubsidized loans are typically $2,000 for first-year dependent students and $6,000 for first-year independent students.

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study positions are offered to students who qualify based on need. Eligible students will be notified that they can apply for a job on campus under the federal work study program. This is not a guarantee of employment; students must find a job and work the necessary hours to earn up to the amount for which they are eligible.


Parents of dependent students can borrow the Parent PLUS Loan. The borrower must qualify based on a credit check and can borrow up to the remaining COA after the EFC and all other aid sources have been calculated.


A scholarship is a form of financial assistance that does not require repayment or employment. Scholarships are most often awarded to students who demonstrate or show potential for distinction, usually in academic performance.


A grant is a type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are usually offered based on need, possibly combined with some skills or characteristics the student possesses.

Education Loans

Unlike scholarships and grants, loans—whether federal or private—need to be repaid. There are a variety of need-based and non-need-based loans available to assist in financing a college education.

Federal Education Loans

Federal education loans offer students a distinct advantage over private lender loans, in that they offer more attractive interest rates, more flexible repayment plans, and require no collateral for approval.

Federal Direct Student Loans

Students are automatically eligible to receive this federally funded loan after filing the FAFSA. This loan is in the student's name and does not need to be repaid until six months after the student graduates or drops below half time enrollment. This loan is typically repaid over a 10-year period, although numerous repayment options are available. No credit check is required. The loan is guaranteed. 

If you want to borrow a Federal Direct Student Loan, visit the Federal Student Aid website, where you can complete the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling using your (the student's) FSA ID. There is a loan origination fee; therefore, the actual amount applied to your bill reflects the deduction of this origination fee. 

Federal Direct Student Loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized, or a combination of both. This determination is made by the federal government based on your financial need.

  • Subsidized – Fixed interest rate. Both principal and interest are deferred until the repayment period begins.
  • Unsubsidized – Fixed interest rate. The principal, but not the interest, is deferred until the repayment period begins. Interest accrues while you are enrolled in school. You can choose to pay the interest while you are in school, or you can defer interest payments—allowing the interest to capitalize—and start paying the loan and interest after graduation. Paying the interest while you are in school will cost you less.

Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS) 

The parent of a dependent student can borrow this federal loan. Your parent must apply for this loan using their unique FSA ID at the Federal Student Aid website. The application requires a credit check, and the student must have already completed the FAFSA. We suggest interested parents begin the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan application process during the summer before their student’s freshman year.

Repayment begins while the student is in school (usually around November of the student’s first year). Parents can wait to start repayment until after their student graduates, but interest will begin capitalizing immediately. Most repayments are over a 10-year period but can sometimes be extended to 20 years. Actual loan amounts will be minus an origination fee. 

If your parent is denied a Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS), you can receive an additional $4,000 in an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loan.

Private Education Alternative Loans

Private loans, also known as alternative loans, help bridge the gap between the actual cost of education and the limited funding available from federal loan programs. There are no federal forms to complete. Mercyhurst will accept any loan from the lender of your choice. Loan limits and rates vary by lender. Please visit the ELMSelect website ​​​​​​​to explore private education loan options.

Loan amounts and interest details are estimates based on 2018-2019 data, and are subject to change.

Contact Us

Have additional questions or need assistance with financial aid? Visit the Meet the Counselors webpage to find the Mercyhurst admissions counselor responsible for your geographic region.