Financial Aid FAQs

  • What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized loan?
    Subsidized loans are awarded on the basis of financial need. The federal government pays the interest of the loan while the student is attending school on at least a half-time basis. Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need. The interest accrues upon the first disbursement of the loan and the interest capitalizes on the unsubsidized loan. It is wise to pay the interest as it accumulates if you have the financial means to do so.

    How do I know how much financial aid I am receiving?
    After the FAFSA is completed and all other necessary documents are submitted, the financial aid office will send financial aid award letters to students. For new students, the financial aid award letter will be sent in the mail. For returning students, an email will be sent directing them to view their award letter on WebAdvisor.

    Why wasn't I awarded federal work-study?
    Work-study is based on financial need and funds are limited. Possible reasons why you weren't awarded are because your financial need is lower than other recipients, and/or all funds were already awarded to students who completed applications earlier.

    I probably won't qualify for aid. Should I bother applying?
    Yes. Many families think they will not be eligible for financial aid so they do not complete the FAFSA. However, they may be missing out on grants and other aid. Additionally, unsubsidized loans are available and are not based on need. The FAFSA is free and all students are encouraged to complete the application.

    I'm a graduate student. Do I qualify for any aid?
    The primary form of assistance for graduate students is the Direct unsubsidized loan. Students must complete the FAFSA to qualify for this loan. If additional funds are needed, a student may apply for a Graduate PLUS loan ( or Alternative loan (Carlow's preferred lender list is at

    Do I have to reapply for financial aid annually?
    Yes. The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year is available after January 1 of each calendar year, and students must apply to be considered for financial aid.

    How does summer financial aid work?
    For undergraduate students, the annual eligibility of financial aid is typically split between the fall and spring semesters. A student may want to decline some of the fall or spring loan if summer enrollment is anticipated. As with other semesters, a student must be at least half-time (6 credits) to be eligible for summer financial aid. For graduate students, annual eligibility of financial aid is split between fall, spring, and summer semesters. 

    I have a large balance to pay. What other options do I have?
    You have several options: 

    • Outside scholarships. You can search for scholarships on websites such as,, and Visit our Outside Scholarships and Awards page for additional ideas. 
    • Carlow payment plan. Your balance can be divided into 4 or 5 monthly payments.
    • Parent PLUS loan. This is a loan that a parent may take out for a dependent student and can be deferred while the student is in school. It is based on credit. A parent can apply for the loan at
    • Alternative loan. The student can apply for a private alternative loan with a creditworthy cosigner. Carlow's preferred lender list can be found at
    Where can I find out how much I have borrowed in student loans?
    You can view your loan borrowing history at It provides a detailed explanation of all the federal loans you have borrowed. You will need your PIN number to access your information.

    When will I have to start paying back my loans?
    After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a six-month grace period before you must start repaying your loans. If you move during this time, make sure you alert your loan servicer(s) of your new address. 

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by students when filing the FAFSA: 

    1.If I am not applying for grants or loans and only receive a Carlow Scholarship, do I have to file a FAFSA to renew the scholarship?   
    No, the FAFSA is not required.

    2. I do not live with my parents. Do I have to provide my parents information on the FAFSA? 
     Yes, if you do not qualify as an independent student based on Part Seven of the FAFSA then you must provide your parents' information, even if you do not live with them.

    3. My parents haven't filed their taxes yet and may not have them filed by April 1. Can I still file the FAFSA?  
    Yes, file the FAFSA with estimated income information. You are required to update your FAFSA when actual income information is available.

    4. I live with my mother and step-father. Do I have to provide my step-father's information on the FAFSA? 
     Yes, if your mother and step-father are married at the time you file the FAFSA then both your mother's and your step-father's information must be provided.

    5. I am married but my spouse and I were not married in 2012. Do I have to provide my spouse's 2012 income on the FAFSA?  
    Yes, even if you were not married in 2012 and you filed separate tax returns, if you are married at the time you file the FAFSA, you must provide your spouse's income information.

    6. My father recently lost his job so his 2012 income will be significantly less than what it was in 2012. Do I still have to provide his 2012 income information on the FAFSA?   
    Yes, you must still report his 2012 income. However, you should submit a Special Conditions Form that you will find under Forms.

    7. I'm not sure if I'm going to live on campus or commute from home next year. What housing status should I indicate on my FAFSA?   
    If you're not sure of your housing status, indicate your best guess. Make sure you notify the Financial Aid Office if you change your mind.

    8. I plan to take a leave of absence in the fall and return in January 2014. Do I still have to file the FAFSA by April 1?   
    Yes, file the FAFSA by April 1 so that you meet the financial aid deadline.

    9. I have a child of my own but I live with my parents and my parents claim me and my child as their dependents. Do I qualify as an independent student because I have a child?  
    No, if your parents provide more than 50% of your child's support, then you do not qualify as an independent student.

    10. I am a Pennsylvania resident, so how does PHEAA get the results of my FAFSA? Is there a separate form I need to fill out for state grant?   
    If you list "PA" as your home state, your FAFSA information automatically goes to PHEAA. PHEAA may request additional information from you on a separate form, particularly if you are a first-time FAFSA filer.