Listed here are helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the HSTA Higher Education Benefit Bachelor’s Degree Completion program at Central State University (CSU) and our current online program offerings. For more information or additional support, call us at 888-897-9671.

Q: What is HSTA Higher Education Benefit in partnership with Central State University?

A: The HSTA Higher Education Benefit is an investment in you and your future.  With the HSTA Higher Education Benefit, union members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books at for the online Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs at Central State University —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 HSTA Higher Education 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 (CSU), 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.

Additional programs are under consideration, so check back for updates.

Q: Is Central State University accredited?

A: Yes. Central State University (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 about the university visit https://www.centralstate.edu/.

Q: How does the bachelor completion programs at Central State University work?

A: The academic programs are intended for students who already have an Associate Degree or 60 credits or more in the intended major.

If you have an associate degree in your requested major from an accredited institution, you may be able to start with junior level courses in the requested curriculum at Central State University.

If you do not have an associate degree in your requested major 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 HSTA Higher Education Benefit associate degree program at Eastern Gateway Community College.

An evaluation of your transcript(s) will determine the courses that are acceptable for transfer equivalencies.

Q: How do the Central State University bachelor completion programs offered through HSTA Higher Education Benefit “work with” the Eastern Gateway Community College associate degree programs also offered through the HSTA Higher Education Benefit?

A: Members will work with enrollment specialists to determine their degree pathway.  As a general rule, members already holding an associate degree in their chosen field (Business, Education, or Criminal Justice) will be directed by their enrollment advisor to apply for the appropriate degree at Central State University (CSU) as part of the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program.  Because the program is a bachelor completion program, certain prerequisite courses must be part of the student’s transcript before they will be admitted to the program.

Students who do not hold an associate degree in their field, or whose transcript is missing the prerequisite courses, will be guided to apply to Eastern Gateway Community College to complete their associate degree, or to complete the prerequisite courses to qualify them for admission into the CSU programs.

Q: Is this for real?

A: It is for real and students have been taking advantage of this great opportunity since Fall 2015. Over 25,000 students have enrolled at in our Free College programs.

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 Central State University (CSU) in order to complete the financial aid process to determine eligibility for federal aid.

The HSTA Higher Education Benefit will cover the rest of the cost of tuition, fees, and e-books for CSU’s online degree completion programs.

Q: How do I qualify for the HSTA Higher Education Benefit program through Central State University?

A: Students who meet the academic qualifications of the bachelor’s degree completion programs at Central State University (CSU) must complete the following steps to enroll.

Complete CSU’s online application.

Submit all previous college transcripts for evaluation.  Email transcripts to uniontranscripts@centralstate.edu.

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.FAFSA.gov 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 Central State University (CSU).

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

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

A: The HSTA Higher Education Benefit means you can attend Central State University (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: 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 Central State University 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 HSTA Higher Education Benefit?

 A: Once you receive the HSTA Higher Education Benefit to cover the cost of tuition, fees and e-books at Central State University, 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.

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

A: As long as Central State University 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. If you are a member in good standing or an eligible family member at the time you start classes, you do not have to pay back the scholarship should your work status change.

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 Central State University.

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 Central State University?

A: Yes.  All grants much be applied to your tuition, fees and e-books at Central State University.

Q: What if I graduated in a foreign country?

A: You will need to have your transcript evaluated and translated by an official education evaluation service, such as World Education Services.  Any related cost for the transcript is not covered by the scholarship.

If you have difficulties obtaining your transcript, please give us a call back 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 access the scholarship.

Q: What is “continuous enrollment”?

A:  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 are summer, fall, and spring.  Continuous enrollment is required in order to access the scholarship.

Q: Will the Central State University Teacher Education program allow me to teach in Hawai’i?

Although Central State University (CSU) is not a Hawaii State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP), if you meet the requirements for licensure in Ohio, you will be able to apply for a Hawaii teaching license based on interstate reciprocity.  After completing your program, you will request that they complete the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB) Program Recommendation Form (LA 3009).  CSU will verify that you have met the requirements for licensure in Ohio including the field and grade level. You will use that to apply for your Hawaii license.

As such, students utilizing the HSTA Higher Education Benefit’s Bachelor Completion program have two options in pursuing this license:

(1)    Earn an Ohio credential through CSU and transfer it to Hawaii
(2)    Apply directly for the Hawai’i teaching license, under HTSB’s reciprocity policy, listing CSU as out of state SATEP and submit their recommendation for an Ohio teaching license.

Once you are enrolled in the program, CSU’s faculty will assist you throughout the licensure process.

Students wishing to teach in Hawai’i will need to hold a teaching license issued by HTSB.  Therefore, it is important for potential students to be knowledgeable of the requirements for licensure in the state.  Please acquaint yourself with the information provided by HTSB at https://hawaiiteacherstandardsboard.org/.

Q: How will my student teaching/practicum requirement be handled in this program?

A: As part of the HSTA Higher Education Benefit’s Bachelor Completion program, students working towards their Education degree will have the opportunity to complete student teaching in Hawai’i as part of their curriculum.

Students will work with both Central State University (CSU) faculty and administration, including the Director of Field and Clinical Experience, for their student teaching experience.  This typically happens after the student’s first full year of coursework but can happen later depending on how many credit hours a student chooses to take. Together, the location of the student teaching site, as well as identifying the Cooperating Teachers will be determined.  CSU works with the Hawaii State Department of Education, Hawaii Based Program Coordinator, Cooperating Teacher, and the appropriate school administrators on the planning and delivery of the student teaching experience.

Q: What licensure level can I earn through this program?

A: Students completing the Central State University program in Education will be prepared to earn the Ohio Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 licensure, also called “PK-3”.  Once you have this teaching license, students can explore adding fields to your license including other areas of focus. https://hawaiiteacherstandardsboard.org/content/add-a-teaching-field/