Here are helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Free College benefit for the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program and our current online program offerings. For more information or additional support, email us at or call us at 888-897-9671.

Q:        How does enrollment in the Free College/Career Plus program at CSU work?

A:       Students who qualify for their union or partner organization’s Free College benefit and who have earned 60+ college credits with a 2.2 CGPA can enroll in Central State’s Career Plus Benefit program with no out-of-pocket cost.

CSU’s Career Plus program operates with a rolling admissions process and accepts students throughout the year for 5 or more start dates per year. Prospective students should allow at least 30 days to complete the admissions and enrollment process. Students may be admitted to CSU’s Career Plus program upon review of official transcripts that shows the student has earned 60+ college credits with a 2.2 cumulative GPA.  Official credit evaluations of all previous credits and degree progress audits may take up to 8 weeks from the time all official transcripts are received by CSU.

CSU accepts up to 90 credits from previous colleges and universities toward your CSU degree.  Courses must be at the college level from an accredited institution and must fit the requirements of your degree program.  Students must complete a minimum of 24 credits with CSU in order to earn a degree from the University.

Q:        What is the Career Plus program at CSU?

A:        The Free College Benefit is an investment in you and your future.  With the Free College Benefit, union members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books for the online Career Plus Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs at CSU—resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!

Q:        How does it work?

A:        The benefit is a “last-dollar scholarship”, or grant, that fills the gap between any federal, state or employer education grants you receive and the cost of tuition, fees and e-books for certain online bachelor’s degree completion programs at Central State University.

Q:        Who is eligible?

A:        The Free College Benefit is open to members in good standing, who are full dues-paying members or retiree members, and their families.  Families are children (or stepchildren), grandchildren (or step-grandchildren), spouses, domestic partners, financial dependents, siblings and parents, including in-laws.  Additional family members may qualify.  Check with your union to confirm.

Q:        Which academic programs are eligible for the scholarship?

A:        The academic partner for this program is Central State University, a land-grant, public University founded in 1887 and located in Wilberforce, OH (near Dayton).

CSU currently offers Bachelor’s Degree completion programs in Teacher Education, Business Administration, and Criminal Justice, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Additional programs are under consideration, so check back for updates.  Visit for more information about the University.

Q:        How do Bachelor Completion programs at CSU work?

A:        The academic programs are intended for students who already have an Associate Degree or 60 credits or more and a 2.2 CGPA.  (Currently, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Interdisciplinary Studies and Education are the programs offered.)

If you do not have an associate degree from an accredited institution, you may need to complete general education requirements and/or pre-requisite requirements.  You will have the option to do so through the Free College Program at Eastern Gateway Community College

An evaluation of your transcript(s) will determine the courses that are acceptable for transfer equivalencies. (Note that a full transcript evaluation can take up to 8 weeks after the final transcript is received by CSU.)

Q:        Is Central State University accredited?

A:        Yes. CSU, located in Wilberforce, OH, is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. The Higher Learning Commission is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This federally recognized body provides assurance to students, parents and all stakeholders that CSU meets clear quality standards for educational and financial performance.

Additionally, CSU’s Education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs recognizes CSU’s Business Management program. For more details, visit

Q:        Is this for real?

A:        It is for real and students have been taking advantage of this great opportunity since Fall 2015. Over 70,000 students have enrolled in our Free College programs.

Benefit eligibility requires that potential students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as well as apply for and use any employer or military tuition reimbursement or assistance for which they have eligibility. Once the FAFSA is completed, the college may request additional documentation, for a process called verification that is required by the US Department of Education. All students must comply with the document requests by CSU in order to complete the financial aid process to determine eligibility for federal aid.

The Free College benefit will cover the rest of the cost of tuition, fees, and e-books for CSU’s online degree completion programs.  The entire amount will be covered if the student does not qualify for any other grants.

Q:        How do I qualify for the Free College program through CSU?

A:        Students who meet the academic qualifications of CSU’s bachelor’s degree completion programs must complete the following steps to enroll.

Complete CSU’s online application.

Submit all previous college official transcripts for evaluation. If you have not been awarded an Associate Degree, you will be required to also submit proof of High School graduation or GED completion.

Email transcripts to

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit any required verification. Any grant award must be applied to the tuition, fees and e-book charges at CSU.


Agree to use any employer tuition assistance.

Students who do not complete the FAFSA and any required verification will need to make payment arrangements with CSU.

Students who are currently in default on their Federal student loans may receive the scholarship but must get permission from CSUs financial aid office.

Q:        Why do I have to complete the FAFSA if it’s Free?

A:        The Free College benefit means you can attend CSU with no out-of-pocket cost, with the aid of a last-dollar scholarship.  The amount of the last-dollar scholarship is determined by your enrollment and by amount of federal, state or employer grants for which you are eligible.  This is verified through the FAFSA process.  You will not be asked to take out any loans.

This means it is free to you and there is no out-of-pocket cost for tuition, fees, or e-books.  The “last dollar” scholarship means it covers the difference in what you have available for grants in state or federal aid, and the tuition, fees and e-books at CSU.  It does not cover pencils, computers, computer access, internet, etc.  It also does not cover parking or professional fees, etc.

Q:        How do you determine the amount of the scholarship?

A:        Students Must have a processed FAFSA on file that correlates with  academic year attending (i.e., 2021/22 for Fall)

Students without a US Social Security number may still be eligible but must confirm with their Financial Aid advisor.

Students who are selected for File Review or Verification must complete the process prior to the end of 1st semester attended and 1st semester for subsequent academic years.

Students who have exhausted their lifetime limit on Pell will still be eligible for the scholarship.

Students who have already earned a Bachelor’s Degree are eligible for the scholarship.

Students who are in default on previous student loans will be eligible if the student makes agreement with lender for 6-9 month of payments to clear default (with 1st payment made)

The Student consolidates defaulted loans to clear default

Q:        Tell more about FAFSA Verification and File Reviews.

A:        The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of all FAFSA applicants for a process called verification. Verification is how the Department of Education requires CSU to confirm the accuracy of the data reported (or not reported) on an individual student’s FAFSA. During the verification process, information reported on the FAFSA is checked for accuracy against documentation submitted by the student and/or their parents. An application may be selected for verification at any time throughout the award year. Compliance with this verification procedure is required to remain eligible for the scholarship.

 Q:        How do I maintain my Free College benefit?

 A:        Once you receive the Free College benefit to cover the cost of tuition, fees and e-books at CSU, you must comply with all academic, conduct, attendance and financial aid policies as required by the college, the state of Ohio and the U.S. Department of Education in order to continue to receive the benefit for each semester in which you enroll in classes toward your degree.

You must also continue to be a full dues-paying member of your union (or an eligible family member) or a retired member of your union. You are also required to complete the FAFSA, including any required verification, for every new academic year. Continuous enrollment from term to term is required.

Students must stay continuously enrolled from the time of first enrollment to the time of graduation in order to maintain eligibility.

Q:        Do I have to pay any money back if I don’t complete my class or program?

A:        As long as CSU has your current year FAFSA and any and all required verification forms, and you follow the rules of the college, you won’t incur a bill for your tuition, fees or books. You don’t have to stay with the union or your job for any set time period – you just need to be a member in good standing or an eligible family member at the time you start your classes.  You don’t have to pay back the scholarship if you move out of the union, or your job.

Q:        What if I do not qualify for any federal financial aid?

A:        Even if it is determined that due to income levels, the student is not eligible for federal or state financial aid, or not eligible for employer grants or tuition reimbursement benefits, a last dollar scholarship will be applied to any remaining balance for tuition and fees at CSU.

The cost of e-books is included, so students will have no costs other than internet access and equipment (computers, software, etc.).

Q:        Do I have to apply any other scholarships or benefits for which I am eligible to my tuition, fees or e-books at CSU?

A:        Yes.  All grants must be applied to your tuition, fees and e-books at CSU.

Q:        What if I graduated in a foreign country?

A:        You will need to have your transcript evaluated and translated (course by course) by an official education evaluation service.  One example is the service World Education Services, www.WES.Org.  Any related cost for the transcript is not covered by the scholarship.

If you have difficulties obtaining your transcript, please give us a call to discuss your individual situation.

Q:        What if I need to discontinue my studies?

A:        A student may withdraw from a class prior to the withdrawal deadline each semester.  Students are required to contact the financial aid office prior to withdrawal deadline in order to see what impact it might have on their financial aid and/or scholarship.

Continuous enrollment is required in order to maintain eligibility for the scholarship.

Q:        What is “continuous enrollment”?

A:        Continuous enrollment, defined as taking at least one course per semester, is required to continue to earn the scholarship. If students have a mitigating circumstance that prohibits them from taking a course per semester, please reach out to to discuss your options.

Continuous enrollment means that once a student begins studies, they must take a minimum of three credit hours (typically one course) in consecutive semesters until they complete their degree.  In an academic year, consecutive terms are Summer, Fall, and Spring.

  1. Am I able to borrow loans?


  1. Students are able to borrow loans, but no more than $1,000 per semester. Students wishing to borrow more will give up the last dollar scholarship.