How to Apply for Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid doesn't need to be stressful—all the information you need to apply for admission and financial aid to CNU are easily available online. Here’s how to navigate the financial aid process effectively.

  • Apply for admission to CNU.
    If you haven’t already been admitted as a student, learn how to get started with the online application.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.
    Where it asks for school code, type “003706” for CNU. Be prepared to provide information about you and your family’s income and assets using federal tax returns and other income information. The IRS Data Retrieval Process is the best way to populate your FAFSA with this information. The IRS Data Retrieval tool is typically available approximately two weeks after your taxes have been processed by the IRS.

In order to be considered for financial aid, the FAFSA must be completed each year beginning January 1. The FAFSA is always based on previous year’s income so tax filers should file federal tax returns as soon as possible each year.

  • Apply early! For priority consideration, your FAFSA must be received by the established priority deadline of MARCH 1. While no award for financial aid can be given until you have been admitted to CNU, please do not wait until your admission decision has been received to submit your FAFSA. Although every effort is made to meet the needs of all students, the Financial Aid Office cannot guarantee that grant funds, except Pell funds, will be available for students who fail to meet the Priority Consideration Date.

If you’re a Virginia resident, you must apply by March 1 to guarantee consideration for student financial aid through the Virginia State Council of Higher Education. Grants are based on State allocations and funds are limited.

  • Apply for Scholarships.

CNU scholarships awarded on the basis of academic achievement are predominantly awarded by the Office of Admission as part of the new freshman application and admission process, while others are awarded by academic departments. 

CNU has a limited number of need based scholarships established by private donors or outside agencies. In order to be considered for need based scholarships, students must complete a FAFSA by the priority deadline of March 1.

Private scholarships are an important resource in helping with the cost of higher education. Deadlines and application procedures may vary. While applying for private scholarships can be a research process and require hard work, the outcome is typically well worth the time invested.

  • Consider Parent PLUS or Private Loans to supplement the difference in cost not covered by grants, scholarships, and federal student loans.

You’re Accepted: Now What?

Upon acceptance to CNU, you should receive a financial aid award letter from CNU’s Financial Aid Office outlining the aid you qualify for. As an incoming freshman, this award letter is sent by mail to the permanent address listed on your admission record.

Once you begin school, you will be given access to your CNU Live account – your online personal account. All future correspondence from the Office of Financial Aid will be sent electronically to your campus email account and direct you to your CNU Live account for financial aid status information.

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

Your award may be a combination of scholarships, grants, work study, and loans. Your award is based on your FAFSA results and on the assumption that you will register as a full-time student. The aid awarded is divided equally between the fall and spring terms.

Steps to Ensure You Receive your Aid on Time

  • Accept your aid package.
    It is important to accept your award promptly, so that your aid will disburse in a timely manner. If you decide not to attend CNU, please contact our office immediately.
  • Check your CNU Live account.
    In order to ensure your financial aid is disbursed on time, it is important to check your CNU Live account periodically to make sure that you have completed any missing or incomplete items and that your financial aid file is complete.
  • Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN).
    If you are a new borrower to CNU, visit to complete your Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note. Both of these documents must be completed before your loan funds will disburse.
  • Maintain your eligibility.
    To maintain your eligibility to be considered for financial aid, you must meet the standards set forth in CNU’s financial aid policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress.

What is verification?

Verification is the confirmation through documentation that the information provided on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is correct. The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify or confirm the data reported by students and their parent(s) on the FAFSA. The verification process ensures that eligible students receive all the financial aid to which they are entitled and prevents ineligible students from receiving financial aid to which they are not entitled.

How will I know if I am selected for verification?

You may be selected for verification either by the federal processor or by the Office of Financial Aid. If you are selected for verification by the federal processor, there will be an asterisk next to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on your Student Aid Report (SAR). You will also be informed of having been selected for verification in the SAR acknowledgement letter, which will be included with your SAR documents.

In addition to the FAFSA notification, you will be advised by the Office of Financial Aid at CNU to submit additional documentation. If you are an incoming freshman or new transfer student, you will be sent a verification letter in the mail to your permanent mailing address on record. If you are a returning student, all correspondence regarding your status will be sent to your CNU email account.

Why was I selected for Verification?

The main reasons for being selected for verification include that you were chosen randomly, the FAFSA you submitted was incomplete, your FAFSA contains estimated information or the data you provided on the FAFSA is inconsistent. Verification is a federal regulation. Students who are selected for verification are not being punished; rather, verification prevents ineligible students from receiving aid by reporting false information and ensures that eligible students receive all of the aid for which they are qualified.

What do I have to submit and where do I send it?

Once you are selected for verification all requirements will be included in your verification letter and your CNU Live account if you are a returning student. While some of the documentation requested may vary, the standard documentation requested is below:

Dependent Students

  • Copy of student's and parent's IRS Tax Return Transcript (for the tax year prior to the current aid year). If the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is used in the FAFSA, CNU will not be required to collect a copy of the transcripts.
  • Dependent verification worksheet from CNU

Independent Students

  • Student's (and spouse's, if applicable) IRS Tax Return Transcript. If the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is used in the FAFSA, CNU will not be required to collect a copy of the transcripts.
  • Independent verification worksheet from CNU

Verification Resources:

Please note that additional documentation may be requested at the discretion of our Financial Aid Coordinators. It is your responsibility to check your requirements and submit all documentation to the Office of Financial Aid as soon as possible so that your application can be processed. Award packages will not be offered until the verification process is complete.

You can submit all documents to us via:

Fax:           757-594-7113

Mail:         Christopher Newport University

                  Office of Financial Aid

                  1 Avenue of the Arts

                  Newport News, VA 23606


Please make sure your first and last name, and student ID number are written on each page submitted and that all required information is complete with signatures. Incomplete documents will be held until all required information is received.

What happens once I submit my documents?


Once all required documents are submitted, please allow two to four weeks for processing. You will receive a letter in the mail (to your permanent address) if there are any outstanding verification requirements preventing us from completing the verification process. 

If all required documents are received and processed, you will receive a financial aid award package by mail.


Once you submit the documents to our office, you can continue to check the status of your documents by going to your CNU Live account to check document tracking. If we have received your documents, the status will go from "Not Received" to “Not Yet Reviewed." Once the document is reviewed the status will be updated to the appropriate status: "Incomplete" or "Satisfied." It is important you check the status of your requirements so you can make sure that all verification documents have been "Satisfied."

If you submit the documents to our office, please allow two to three business days for the status to be updated. There is no need to send multiple documents unless you have given it sufficient processing time.

Once CNU has received all your verification requirements and they are satisfied on your CNU Live document tracking screen, we can now begin the verification process. This can take anywhere between two to four weeks during peak periods.

After the verification process is complete, you will receive an email to your CNU email account informing you that you have an award package available. Award packages will be determined after spring semester grades are issued.

What if I don't want to complete the verification process?

The verification process is a federal regulation and must be completed in order for a student to qualify for federal and state aid. If you do not wish to complete the verification process, and therefore not receive financial aid, please notify the Office of Financial Aid so we can update your status. Other payment arrangements will be required to cover your balance.


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. 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 have 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.