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Undergraduate Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

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Merit Scholarships & Grants

Full-time freshmen and transfer students are offered merit scholarships based on high school and/or college academic records.

Merit scholarships and grants of up to $18,000 per year are offered by the Admissions Office. Students are notified of their eligibility for these scholarships prior to or at the time of admission. Scholarships are renewable for each subsequent year of full-time enrollment for students who meet academic standards for renewal.

Find out my estimated scholarship award.


Other Scholarships

Eligible students may apply for various other University scholarships through the Financial Aid Office.

Awarded to new students who are children of alumni. This is a renewable award provided the student is enrolled full-time.

Aid amount:

How to apply:
Eligibility is determined once you have applied for admission.

Awarded to full-time students with an unweighted GPA of at least 3.5 and a new SAT score of at least 1170 or an ACT score of at least 23. Scholarship is renewable annually provided the student remains a full-time undergraduate student majoring in biology.

Aid amount:
Up to $4,000/year

How to apply:
Scholarship is calculated when you apply for a Biology program. Deadline: August 1.

Awarded to full time students who have met the entrance audition requirements for the School of Music. The scholarship award will be applied annually toward Cairn tuition for up to five years of full-time study in a music program. To qualify, applicants must meet Cairn’s standard entrance requirements and audition before May 1.

Aid amount:
Up to $4,000/year

How to apply:
Students must first apply to Cairn University (via the online application or Common App) before registering for an audition. Applicants may then choose to either audition in-person or, through a video recording. Register to audition here before May 1.

Offered to dependent students whose parent is in full-time Christian ministry or independent student Christian Workers (pastor, church staff, missionary and employees of Christian schools or para-church organizations.)  This need-based award supplements other types of aid. Admitted students are considered if they or the parent are the family’s primary wage earner working full-time in Christian vocation.

Aid amount:
Up to $3,000/year

How to apply: 
Submit parent’s proof of full-time employment and salary on organization letterhead to [email protected]. Deadline: August 1

Cairn University will match (up to $1,000) the amount given by a church in support of a student. This is awarded once per year.

Aid amount:
Up to $1,000/year

How to apply:
Submit the Church Matching Scholarship Application and have a church official submit payment to the Financial Aid Office. Deadline: August 1.

Awarded to full-time students with an unweighted GPA of at least 3.5. Scholarship is renewable provided the student remains a full-time undergraduate student in the Honors Program.

Aid amount:
Up to $2,000/year

How to apply:
Submit an Honors Program application. Deadline: March 1 for scholarship priority.

Awarded to international students who demonstrate a financial need and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Students must be designated as an F-1 international student by the Admissions Department and must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible for the award. Award is renewable provided the student remains in international student status, is a full-time undergraduate student, and meets the qualifying GPA.

Aid amount:
Up to $2,000/year

How to apply: 
Submit the International Student Financial Aid Application.

Offered to graduates of OneLife Institute, Word of Life Bible Institute (who have completed at least one year at WOLBI), Reformation Bible College, Camp-of-the-Woods LIFT Program, and gap year partners. Minimum GPA of 2.0 required. Cumulative GPA of 2.50 is required for annual renewal of award. Note: This scholarship is received instead of a merit scholarship.

Aid amount:
Up to $16,500/year

How to apply:
Submit an official transcript from partner school/program to the Office of Admissions.

Offered to transfer students who are members of Phi Theta Kappa. Must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

Aid amount:

Up to $2,000/year

How to apply:
Submit a copy of your Phi Theta Kappa Induction to [email protected].

Cairn University is a member of the Tuition Rewards program, sponsored by SAGE Scholars (Savings and Growth for Education). Families can accrue “points” by investing or saving with participating banks, credit unions, 529 Plans, and other partner institutions. Tuition Rewards Points may be redeemed for up to the full cost of tuition.

Aid amount:
Up to the full cost of tuition, spread evenly over four years.

How to apply:
Submit your Tuition Rewards statement through SAGE’s Account Statement page at the time the student applies for admission.

Awarded to a graduate of Veritas Press Scholars Academy with a standard, honors, or highest honors diploma. Student must have a SAT combined score of a new SAT score of 1410/1420 (old SAT score of 1350/2020) or ACT score of 30. The student must also have a demonstrated record of leadership. Scholarship is renewable for four years of undergraduate study provided the student is enrolled full-time and maintains a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.  Note: This scholarship is received instead of a merit scholarship.

Aid amount:
Up to $17,500/year

How to apply:
Eligibility is determined once you have applied for admission. Deadline: March 1.

Scholarship America is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make a college education possible through scholarships and educational support. Cairn University will provide a matching scholarship (up to $1,000) to employees or dependents of employees at Scholarship America partner companies who enroll in full-time traditional undergraduate programs. 

Aid amount:
Up to $1,000/ year.

How to apply:
Complete the Scholarship America Matching Scholarship application. Deadline: August 1

Students who have been involved with Awana in high school qualify for the Awana Club Scholarship. This scholarship is renewable for five years provided the student is enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student. This award is a “leadership” scholarship and may not be combined with other “leadership” scholarships.

Aid amount:
Amount is based on defined achievement levels: Citation = $1,500 per year; Meritorious = $1,000 per year.

How to apply:
Submit a letter or citation from Awana to show your level of involvement to [email protected]. Deadline: August 1

Awarded to students who qualify for the Student Ministry award. This award is a “leadership” scholarship and may not be combined with other “leadership” scholarships.

Aid amount:

How to apply:
Submit a letter confirming your involvement to [email protected]. Deadline: August 1.

Students who have been involved with Young Life in high school qualify for the Young Life Scholarship. Scholarship is renewable for four years of undergraduate study provided the student is enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student and demonstrates ongoing involvement with Young Life. This award is a “leadership” scholarship and may not be combined with other “leadership” scholarships.

Aid amount:
Up to $1,000/year

How to apply:
Submit a written recommendation from your local Young Life staff member or volunteer explaining your involvement to [email protected]. Deadline: August 1.

There are many “outside scholarship” opportunities for prospective and current college students to apply for in order to supplement their institutional aid. Explore public scholarship search engines such as,,, or in order to find possible opportunities. Eligibility and requirements vary.

Federal & State Aid

Need-based financial aid programs are designed to meet a student’s demonstrated financial aid need. Cairn University participates in all federal and state need-based grants, loans, and work-study programs.

Please note, to be eligible you must:

  • be a US citizen or permanent resident

  • be enrolled in a degree or certificate program

  • file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year. Use school code 003351

  • meet other federal aid requirements (see

Students in need taking at least 3 credits in an undergraduate degree program could be eligible for federal aid.

Aid amount:
$534 to $7,395 (2023-2024 academic year)

Need-based grant awarded to students demonstrating the greatest financial need that qualify for a Federal Pell Grant.

Aid amount:

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is a loan for students with demonstrated financial need. The government pays the loan interest for the student while the student is in school and this the preferred loan of the two direct loans due to this subsidy.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a loan which is not based on a students’ financial need. Students pay the loan interest while enrolled or the student can elect to have it deferred and capitalized upon graduation.

Aid amount:
Annual borrowing limits range from $5,500-$12,500.

How to apply:
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)Use school code 003351

For first-time loan borrowers at Cairn: Complete the Federal Student Loan entrance counseling and sign a Direct Loan Agreement (MPN) at

Parents of dependent undergraduate students may apply.

Aid amount:
Parents may borrow the difference of cost of attendance minus any financial aid received.

How to apply:
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)Use school code 003351

Parent borrowers sign a PLUS loan agreement (MPN). Under some circumstances PLUS Credit Counseling may be required. Complete at

Available to students demonstrating financial need.

Aid amount:
$2,200. Determined by need and limited by the amount of work hours available.

Undergraduate students demonstrating financial need may be eligible for state aid. Applicants must be PA residents and enrolled at least half-time in a degree program.

Aid amount:
Up to $5,750/year (based on 2023-2024 maximum amount)

How to apply: 
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and additional forms required by PHEAA. Use FAFSA school code 003351

State grants from DE, OH, MA, VT, and WV may be reciprocal to PA colleges. Students must demonstrate financial need and meet the individual grant program requirements.

Aid amount:
Awards vary

How to apply: 
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and State edition of grant application (if required). Use FAFSA school code 003351

Financing Options

Cairn University offers several options for students and families to finance the cost of college after financial aid.  We hope you will take a moment to consider these financing options. You may find, as many families have found, this information to be very helpful in making a Cairn University education affordable.

Cairn offers students monthly payment plans which divide the annual academic total cost into eight to twelve monthly payments. The Nelnet Campus Commerce system sends a plan invitation link to the student’s Cairn email address. For questions, please contact Student Accounts at [email protected] or 215-702-4207.


Parent PLUS loans are government loan funds available to parents to help meet the educational costs of college for their daughter or son.

Apply online at  You will need to log in using your parent FSA ID to access the Parent PLUS loan and sign the PLUS Loan Agreement (MPN).

Biological or adoptive parents of full-time or half-time dependent undergraduate students; not contingent upon income level. Consideration for a Parent PLUS loan includes a required credit check. Parents and students must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. FAFSA for the student must be filed.  If a parent has their application declined due to negative credit history and is unable to borrow the Parent PLUS loan, the dependent student becomes eligible to borrow an Additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan up to $4,000 or $5,000 for the year

Up to the total cost of educational expenses less other financial aid accepted by the student.  There is no maximum loan amount per parent borrower.

6.28% for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2021 and before July 1, 2022. A non-refundable federal government origination fee will be deducted from the loan prior to each disbursement. The fee for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/20 and before 10/1/222 is 4.228%.

Payment of principal and interest begins 60 days after disbursement of the loan with a minimum monthly payment of $50.00. Repayment may last up to 10 years. You may prepay at any time without penalty. Loan consolidation and graduated repayment options are available.

In most cases, applicants should allow six weeks of processing time before the funds are needed. However, since the funds need to be in place prior to the beginning of the fall semester (your plan must be in place by August 1), Parent PLUS Loan applications should be made by early-June. If funds are needed for the beginning of the spring semester, apply in early-October. It is also best to wait until the student’s aid award is complete so that you know the amount of loan eligibility.


Apply online for a Parent PLUS loan and sign the PLUS Loan Agreement (MPN) at You will need to log in using your parent FSA ID. Under some circumstances PLUS Credit Counseling may be required. Complete at

You can also request an application through the Financial Aid office at Cairn by emailing [email protected].

View ELM Select Lender List

A second supplemental borrowing option is an alternative loan. An alternative loan is an educational loan to the student from private lender funds which are not federally-guaranteed. Because of this, the interest rate can be higher than on Federal student loans, and there are not the same provisions for loan cancellations and discharges. Alternative loans can be in the student’s name and, generally, a credit check is required. However, since most students have little or no credit, a credit-worthy co-borrower/co-signer is usually necessary for this type of loan. Alternative loans are also available for a parent or a spouse to borrow on behalf of the student and a credit check would be used to determine eligibility.

  • Amount eligible to be borrowed: Up to the amount of the cost of attendance less any other financial aid accepted.
  • Interest rate: Some variable, some fixed.
  • Grace period: 6 months after student drops below at least half-time enrollment.
  • Federal consolidation with direct student loans: No

Steps to apply for an alternative loan: If the student is interested in applying for an alternative loan, we suggest he/she research lenders by reviewing this Alternative Loans – ELM Select Lender List.

Some of these lenders have to abide by the Truth in Lending Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act that require new disclosures for private student loans.

  1. Choose a lender and apply for the loan (usually online). The lender will provide a disclosure form to help you understand your loan options.
  2. Provide additional information as required by your lender.
  3. Receive and review your Approval Disclosure and carefully read the terms of the loan offer.
  4. Notify your lender of your acceptance of the loan terms by the date indicated on the Approval Disclosure.
  5. Receive, review, sign and return the completed borrower Self-Certification form to your lender prior to disbursement.
  6. Receive and review your Final Disclosure. If you wish to cancel the loan, you will need to notify your lender by the deadline indicated (Right to Cancel date) indicated on the disclosure.
  7. Receive disbursement of loan funds. The timing of the disbursement of funds will be determined by the school.

Co-Signer Release Information:

Some lenders allow a co-signer to be released from their responsibilities as a co-signer once certain repayment requirements are met. Typically this may include several years of on-time monthly payments. This release allows for the co-signer’s credit to be cleared of the debt, freeing it up for other needs.

Note for Co-Signer Releases:

  • Read terms for release carefully. Make a checklist before repayment starts of all things that must be done in order for cosigner release to happen. This will include the number of consecutive on time payments, etc. Before applying, check to see what income rules are required for the student to take over payments.
  • Discuss each payment with your student. You don’t want your student to miss a payment that costs you getting your name off the loan. As long as you are a responsible party, you have a right to know when payments are due. You may have to help until the student is solely legally responsible. It’s preferable to help with the monthly payment for a while so that  the loan won’t be ineligible for cosigner release.
  • Apply for cosigner release as soon as the requirements are met. Don’t wait for a letter to come in from the servicer.

Alternative Loans – ELM Select Lender List

Veterans Benefits

Cairn University is committed to helping veterans secure the GI Bill® funds they are eligible for under any of the following VA chapters:

To apply for VA Benefits, please visit one of the above links and fill out an application. Once approved, you will receive a “Certification of Eligibility” stating what type of benefit you are eligible for. Submit a copy of your “Certification of Eligibility” to [email protected].

The Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP) was established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. This program provides supplemental education funding to veterans by matching contributions made by participating colleges and universities.  Learn more at

Cairn University will provide up to $8,000 per academic year for up to fifteen undergraduate students per academic year who are selected to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The YRP benefit will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis in order of the receipt of the application for admission to the University for those veterans who are selected for admission.

Cairn will pay half of the difference between the VA’s base benefit and Cairn’s tuition, and the VA will match our contribution so that in most cases tuition will be fully covered.

Effective August 1, 2023, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay up to $27,120 per academic year toward tuition and fees for a full-time student in a private school in Pennsylvania.

The procedures for applying for Yellow Ribbon Program benefits are as follows:

  1. Student applies for VA Education Benefits (VANOPP) –
  2. Student receives written notification from VA regarding eligibility for Post-9/11 benefits. The Certificate of Eligibility will advise the student if his/her service meets the requirements for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
    1. Only individuals who are entitled to the maximum benefit rate based on service requirements (qualified at the 100% rate) are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
    2. Veterans must have an honorable discharge or other qualifying discharge to be eligible.
    3. Dependents may be eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on an individual’s service under the eligibility criteria above.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at

Cairn University students are eligible to participate in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) through a cross-town agreement with Saint Joseph’s University. This agreement allows Cairn University students to take Aerospace Studies classes at Saint Joseph’s University and earn a commission as an Air Force officer while concurrently satisfying requirements for the baccalaureate degree.

Air Force ROTC offers scholarships for two, three, and four years on a competitive basis to qualified applicants. All scholarships are applied to tuition and lab fees, including a textbook allowance, and a tax-free monthly stipend which varies from $300 to $500, depending on graduation date.

For further information about the program, scholarships, and career opportunities, contact AFROTC Det 750, Saint Joseph’s University, 5600 City Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19131-1399, 610.660.3190, [email protected]. Information is also available on the Detachment 750 website at

Financial Aid Links
Contact the Financial Aid Office