How to Apply for Financial Aid

You must apply for financial aid each academic year. To apply for financial aid at CNU, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA cannot be completed until January 1 preceding the academic year.

CNU, like many schools, has a priority consideration date. Our priority consideration date is March 1. Students who complete their FAFSA and have the results sent to CNU by March 1 will be considered for all types of available financial aid. Applications are accepted and encouraged after this date, but funding may be limited.

There are other requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for financial aid. You and your parents are encouraged to review all of the information available on this website, and to contact a counselor if they have any questions.

2014 - 2015 Application Process

1. As soon as possible after January 1, 2014 complete a FAFSA online at Include CNU's Title IV school code (003706) to ensure we receive the results. Apply by March 1st to meet our priority filing date.

2. Review the results of the Student Aid Report (SAR) you received electronically from the Department of Education. Make changes as necessary, especially if you estimated your information.

3. Be on the look out for any information from CNU.   Respond to requests for additional information from us as soon as possible.

4. Award notices are sent to students. Freshmen receive award notifications in time to make informed decisions concerning school choices. Sign the award notification and return one copy to the financial aid office as soon as possible.  Grant funding is limited, and students who fail to return award letters in a timely fashion may lose grant funds.

5. Returning students receive award notifications after Spring grades have posted. Students should accept awards on CNU Live.

6. If you are accepting a Federal Direct Loan and you are borrowing loans for the first time at CNU, you must complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at in order to receive funding.

7.  Parents applying for a Federal Direct Plus loan must complete the application at  The parent must also complete the Master Promissory Note, if they have not already done so, on the same website.

What to Expect Next: 

  • Portions of tuition, fees, and room and board covered by qualified forms of financial aid are used as credit towards tuition.  However, you must pay the difference between financial aid and your bill by the appropriate deadline to avoid late fees and canceled classes.
  • For students who have returned award letters and completed all necessary paperwork, loan funds are credited to accounts during the first week of classes.  Grant funds are credited to accounts as soon as possible following the completion of the first week of classes.
  • For students who have loans or grants in excess of tuition and fees, the Office of Student Accounts prepares a refund check.  Please note that excess grant funds are not available until after the first week of classes.  Therefore, students should make arrangements to purchase books and supplies.


About 30% of all FAFSAs are randomly selected for a process known as verification by the Department of Education's Central Processor.

When your file has been selected for verification, we are required, under federal regulation, to obtain certain documents from you and your parents. You are required to complete the Verification Worksheet, which is available on our forms page. You and your parent also must complete the IRS Data Retrieval via the FAFSA, or provide us with copies of your tax transcript, available by calling the IRS. All forms must be signed.  In some circumstances, we may request additional documentation, such as W-2s, schedules, or financial statements.

Once we receive your completed verification documents, we compare the information to what you reported on your FAFSA. We are required to make corrections to your FAFSA information. Once this process is complete, we can complete processing of your file and award you financial aid.

To avoid delays in processing, you and your parents should respond to our request for verification as soon as possible. Also, be sure that you and your parents have signed all documents. 

Federal regulations are very specific about which forms can be accepted for the verification process. If you have any questions, you can always contact one of our counselors. If you or your parents have filed for an extension, you should also call our office.

The verification process may seem intimidating, but please remember that we are always available to answer your questions!

Students, even financial aid recipients, will receive bills from the Office of Student Accounts. If you have been awarded financial aid, and you have returned your signed award letter, your anticipated financial aid will appear on your bill.

Financial aid is used as a credit towards tuition, except for Federal Work Study and Alternative Loans. Unpaid balances, however, should be paid by the tuition due date to avoid late fees or canceled classes.

Loans for students who have returned their award letters and completed all necessary paperwork are received the first week of classes and are applied to outstanding tuition, fees, and room and board. PLUS loan funds for new or continuing students are received the first week of classes.

Grant funds are not released until enrollment has been confirmed. Once the add / drop period has ended, usually the last day of the first week of classes, our office confirms that each student has enrolled in the appropriate number of hours. We adjust awards accordingly for students who are more or less hours than initially reported. Once this process is complete, we must request that the Federal and State Education departments release funds to us.  In turn, we apply the funds to the appropriate student account. This process is usually completed during the second or third weeks of classes.

As funds are applied to student accounts, refunds are automatically calculated for students who have received loans or grants in excess of tuition and fees. The Office of Student Accounts prepares the refund check. Students who requested that the funds be directly deposited will receive the deposit in the appropriate account. Other students will receive their check at their local address, if one is available, or at their permanent address.

Please note that refunds are not available until after the first week of classes. Therefore, you and your parents should consider making alternate arrangements for purchasing books and necessary supplies.

Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid

Applying for Financial Aid

Processing Financial Aid

Parental Information and Applications


Office of Financial Aid

Special Situations

Back to TopHow do I apply for financial aid at Christopher Newport University?

The only form necessary to apply for financial aid is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

Back to TopWhat will I need to complete the FAFSA?

To complete the FAFSA, you will need:

  • Your tax return and all W-2 forms for the prior year. For example, if you are applying for financial aid for the 2014 - 2015 academic year, you will need your 2013 tax documentation-- either final or estimated.
  • Your spouse's tax return and W-2 forms for the prior year, if applicable.
  • Your parents' tax return and W-2 forms for the prior year, if applicable.
  • Bank statements for checking, savings, and investment accounts.
  • Business and farm financial records.

Back to TopI'm confused by the FAFSA. Can you help me complete the form?

We are more than happy to assist you in completing the FAFSA. You are welcome to call our office at (757) 594-7170 for assistance, or you may stop by Gosnold Hall, Room 114. You may also email us to make an appointment or find the best time to come to the office. We recommend that you have the forms necessary to complete the FAFSA with you or easily accessible for better assistance.

Back to TopWhat is the deadline for submitting the FAFSA?

We recommend that you submit your FAFSA by February 15 in order to meet our priority consideration date of March 1. Financial aid is always available after this date, but it may be limited to Federal Stafford and PLUS loans and the Federal Pell Grant.

Back to TopI missed the March 1 deadline. Can I still apply for aid?

The March 1 date is not a true deadline. Instead, it is a recommended priority consideration date for our students. If we have received your application for financial aid by this date, we will be able to consider you for all Virginia grants and scholarships that we offer. However, you can and should apply for financial aid if this date has already passed.  We will consider you for Federal Stafford and PLUS loans and the Federal Pell Grant.

Back to TopWhat is Christopher Newport University's Title IV school code?

Our Title IV school code is 003706. You must include this code on the FAFSA in order for CNU to receive the results.

Back to TopWhen will I receive an award letter?

We make every effort to ensure that our students receive financial aid award letters as soon as possible.  Our goal is to provide incoming freshmen who have met the priority filing date and who have submitted all requested paperwork with the information necessary to make an informed decision about their college choice.  For returning students, award letters can not be completed until grades have been posted. Please note that returning students will be notified via email to review their financial aid on CNU Live.  In general, if you met the priority filing date and have not received an award letter by the end of May, please contact our office.

Back to TopWhat if my situation has changed since I completed the FAFSA?

The FAFSA, which uses prior year income information, is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid.  If the prior year no longer represents your current situation, please contact our office.  You will be required to submit certain documents in order for us to consider your request for a change.  Federal guidelines preclude us from updating some information.  Also, aid levels are limited, and we may not be able to provide additional financial aid late in the awarding year.

Back to TopI received a revised award letter.  Why did you change my awards?

Federal and state financial aid law states that a student cannot receive financial aid over the cost of attendance.  Outside scholarships (scholarships not awarded by a CNU office) must be included as a resource for financial aid purposes.  When we receive notification of these awards, we must reconsider your eligibility for financial aid.  Other factors that may cause changes are reducing enrollment hours, receiving a CNU scholarship, or changing Veterans Benefits.  We make every effort to reduce Stafford loans and Federal Work Study first, before reducing grants.

Back to TopDo my parents and I need to complete our tax return before filing the FAFSA?

No.  The FAFSA allows you to use estimated figures by indicating you will file, but have not done so yet.  We recommend that students provide estimated figures in order to meet the March 1 priority consideration date.  However, students need to ensure that they correct their FAFSA once they and their parents have filed their returns.

Back to TopIf my parents are divorced or separated, do I include both parents on the FAFSA even if they don't live together?

The FAFSA instructs you to include information about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months.  If you did not live with one parent more than the other, include the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that you received support from a parent.

Back to TopIf my parents are divorced and the parent I live with is remarried, do I have to include my stepparent's income information on the FAFSA even though that person does not provide any financial support for me?

Because you are considered part of the stepparent's household, you must include that person's income on the FAFSA according to federal law.

Back to TopWhy can't you tell my parents about my financial aid?

Federal privacy regulations prohibit us from discussing specific financial information with anyone without permission from you, the student.  You may complete a release of information form to grant that permission to your parents.

Back to TopAll I want is a parent PLUS loan.  Why do I have to complete the FAFSA?

The Department of Education requires the FAFSA to be completed before parents and students can apply for PLUS loans.

Back to TopHow do my parents apply for a PLUS loan?

To apply for a PLUS loan, you and your parent need to first complete the FAFSA.  You must also complete the PLUS request form. Once these documents have been completed, as well as any other necessary paperwork, we can process your PLUS loan. If your parents have not already done so, they will also need to complete the PLUS Master Promissory Note. 

Back to TopMy Student Aid Report indicates that I was selected for Verification.  What does this mean?

About 30% of all applications are selected for verification by the Department of Education.  In addition, CNU has the right to select applications for verification as well. Students selected for verification must complete the Verification Worksheet and submit copies of their (and their parents') tax transcripts.  This documentation must be received prior to awarding financial aid.

Back to TopWhen is your office open, and where is it located?

Our office is open Monday though Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is located in Gosnold Hall, Room 114.

Back to TopHow can I change my status from out of state to in state?

Residency changes are made by the Office of Admissions. Please contact their office for additional information.

Back to TopI am an independent student.  Why do I still have to provide my parents' information?

Many students believe that they are independent because their parents don't claim them as an exemption on their federal tax returns or because their parents don't or won't pay any school expenses. However, federal regulations define dependency differently.  The FAFSA asks a series of questions to determine if you need to provide parental information. If you can answer "yes" to any of the questions listed on the FAFSA, you do not need to provide parental information.  In very limited instances, we can perform dependency overrides for certain students. Please contact our office if you need further information.

Back to TopCan I negotiate my financial aid package?

CNU financial aid and scholarship offers are not negotiable.  We work hard to offer the very best package we can, based upon federal and state rules.  As a young public institution, we have very limited federal, state and institutional funds. Be savvy when comparing financial aid offers: some schools offer large scholarships, but are trying to cover an exorbitant price.  Make sure you are comparing not only the cost of attending school, but also the value of the degree you will receive.

Tips for Completing Your FAFSA

At first glance, the FAFSA can be an intimidating form. Remember, however, that there are many financial aid professionals available who are familiar with the form. Review the tips below when completing your FAFSA. You can also always direct your questions to one of our counselors, or you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).

  • When completing the FAFSA on-line, take a moment to register for a PIN for both yourself and your parent. Keep your PIN in a safe place. This will enable you to make corrections and will smooth the process in future years.
  • Gather all of the documents you will need to complete the FAFSA before you begin the application. This includes your and your parents' tax returns if you have already filed, W-2s, bank statements, and business financial statements.
  • Make time to sit with your parents and complete the form together. Generally, you can complete the form in one evening if you have gathered all of the information. 
  • Use your full name. The FAFSA is no place for nicknames! The information you put on the FAFSA goes through a series of database matches, and misprinting your name can cause a delay.
  • Double-check the Social Security number you list for yourself. This is going to be used to verify your status as a citizen. If your parent is helping you complete your form, make certain they don't accidentally list their own SSN.
  • If you are a male, you must register with the Selective Service prior to receiving financial aid. Be sure to complete your registration-- you can even use the FAFSA to register!
  • For entering freshmen, make sure you indicate your interest in Work-Study. We will use your answer to this question to help provide you Work-Study funds.
  • Answer the question concerning drug conviction accurately! If you leave this question blank, your FAFSA will not be processed and you might miss out on grant funds!
  • Estimate your and your parents' income information. Use as accurate a figure as possible.  If you estimate your information, you are more likely to be able to complete the form and submit it in time for our March 1 priority filing date. Once you and your parents have filed, you can use your PIN or the copy of your Student Aid Report to make corrections.
  • Answer all of the income questions!  If a question doesn't apply to you, enter a zero.
  • If you feel you have special circumstances, call us. We can help you determine the best course of action before you file.
  • You must provide a Social Security number for your parents or stepparents. If you do not, your FAFSA will not be processed until the correction is made, which will delay your financial aid.
  • Make sure you include CNU's Title IV school code, 003706. This is the only way the Department of Education knows to send the results to our school. 
  • Tell us your housing plans! This determines how much financial aid your may be eligible for.
  • Indicate what your enrollment for the school year will be. Leaving this blank can delay your financial aid.
  • Sign the form! An unsigned application cannot be processed, and we will not receive valid results. This is true if your parents fail to sign, too. If you file on-line and do not obtain PINs for both yourself and your parents, be sure you print and sign the certification page and mail it.
  • Make a copy of the information you are mailing if you complete the paper form, or print the completed form if you apply on-line.
  • Check the email address you provided on your FAFSA! The Department of Education will use this address to send your Student Aid Report results to you, as well as other communications. If your email deletes spam, you may also need to check your trash to see if the email was incorrectly identified as junk mail.