Financial Aid Overview
Meridian University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and is approved by the U. S. Department of Education for participation in Federal Student Loan Programs.
Financial aid provides assistance to students registered in an at least half-time basis (four or more credits per quarter) who find it challenging to finance their education. The Financial Aid Office is committed to making the process as straightforward and manageable as possible.
Federal and state regulations governing Federal Student Aid programs may change periodically. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for the most current information.
Contacting the Financial Aid Office
Telephone (707)765-1836 ext. 4
47 Sixth Street
Petaluma, California 94952
Financial Aid Consultation
All applicants and accepted students can schedule a phone or video-conference consultation with the Meridian Financial Aid Office. Click here to request an appointment.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Deadlines
All financial aid application items should be accurately completed and received by the Financial Aid Office least three weeks prior to the start of the quarter. For example, if you are enrolling in Fall 2018 your deadline is August 11, 2018. Students who do not submit the required items in a timely manner must be prepared to meet their tuition and fee obligations by the payment deadlines, even if they plan to receive aid later in the year.
Quarter Start and End Dates:
Meridian University uses the the quarter system.
|Fall Quarter||September 1, 2018 - November 30, 2018|
|Winter Quarter||December 1, 2018 - February 28, 2019|
|Spring Quarter||March 1, 2019 - May 31, 2019|
|Summer Quarter||June 1, 2019 - August 31, 2019|
Overview of the Aid Process
The United States Department of Education offers the Federal Direct Loan Program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. The Department of Education does not provide Pell Grants to graduate students.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Students can borrow up to $20,500 each academic year in direct unsubsidized loans. The maximum total debt from subsidized (undergraduate) and unsubsidized loans is $138,500 for graduate or professional students. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate debt limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.
- Available to undergraduate and graduate students
- No requirement to demonstrate financial need
- Meridian determines the amount you can borrow by considering the cost of attendance
- Has a fixed interest rate 6.595% (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019)
If you have questions about your current Direct Loan debt relative to the $138,500 limit, contact the Financial Aid Office.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate students can use to help pay education expenses. The U.S. Department of Education provides the loans only to borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program, like Meridian.
- The U.S. Department of Education is your lender
- The student may not have an adverse credit history
- Has a fixed interest rate 7.595% (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019)
- Students may be able to utilize a cosigner/guarantor if they do not meet credit history requirements.
How do I apply?
- Apply for a FSA ID Number before you start your FAFSA application.
- Complete the FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov and submit it to Meridian University.
Meridian’s Federal School Code is G42711
- Complete the Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN) at studentloans.gov
What Happens Next?
Once your FAFSA is processed, Meridian will confirm receipt of the FAFSA by either sending you a FAFSA receipt confirmation email, or an email letting you know if there are any issues with the FAFSA that need to be resolved. After you have officially enrolled, we will email you an Award Notification for you to sign and return. The Award Notification discloses your Direct Loan Borrowing Information and Remaining Eligibility from the U.S. Department of Education. Your Award Notification will indicate the full loan amount(s) for which you are eligible. When signing your award letter you will have the opportunity to request less than the maximum amount if you wish. If you do not understand how much aid you would be accepting by signing the Award Notification, or don’t understand how to note that you want to borrow less than the total awarded, contact the Financial Aid Office before signing your Award Notification.
Notification of Right to Cancel All or a Portion of Your Aid:
If you choose to borrow a different amount, or want to cancel the loan offer, you will need to sign the applicable form. Unless indicated otherwise, by signing your Award Notification you are accepting all of your financial aid awarded.
It is important to understand the details of federal loan repayment. To learn more about when repayment starts, how to make your payments, repayment plan options, and more, click the links below to review important Department of Education webpages.
Standard Repayment Plan
Graduated Repayment Plan
Extended Repayment Plan
Income-Based Repayment Plan
Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan
Income-Contingent Repayment Plan
Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan
Student Loan Forgiveness
Student Consumer Information Disclosures
All postsecondary institutions participating in Federal Student Aid programs are required to make available certain information to assist consumers in making better informed decisions about their educational options. Please visit Meridian’s Student Consumer Information section for this information and required disclosures.
Student Loan Counseling
Students borrowing from the Federal Loan programs are required to complete an Entrance Counseling session prior to receiving their first loan disbursement. They must also complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). Students are required to complete Exit Counseling when leaving Meridian University (graduating, withdrawing, or dropping below half-time enrollment).
The loan counseling sessions are intended to inform the student of his/her rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower as well as about student loan indebtedness. The MPN E-Sign (Master Promissory Note) is an electronic signature via which the student is agreeing to borrowing the loan(s). Loans will not process to a student’s account until the necessary steps are completed. Students are responsible for tuition payments on the applicable due dates if they have not completed the Entrance Counseling Session and the MPN.
General Eligibility Criteria: How do I qualify?
The Federal Direct Loan program is not based on your income or assets; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.
The eligibility criteria to qualify are:
- Be admitted and enrolled in an at least half-time basis in an eligible program at Meridian (all of Meridian’s graduate degree programs are eligible programs)
- Must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States
- Complete the FAFSA each year to determine eligibility for federal financial assistance (Use Meridian’s School Code: 042711)
- Must be in good standing in order to qualify for federal financial assistance (Student may not be in default on or owe a refund for any federal financial aid programs or federal liens.)
- Provide proof of compliance with selective service registration and drug conviction regulations
- Must be making Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (FSAP) toward the completion of degree requirements
- Students are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If a student chooses not to pay the interest while they are in school or during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, interest will be added to the principal amount of the student’s loan).
Student loans disburse on a quarterly basis. Loan funds are received by Meridian University and are posted to the student’s account via the Student Services Portal. Funds are generally disbursed during the first three to four weeks of the quarters (after the add/drop deadline) for those students who provided all requested information at least three weeks prior to the start of the first quarter in the loan period. Credit balances (if applicable) are disbursed within 14 days of the actual date of disbursement. Factors affecting disbursement include (but are not limited to) enrollment status, satisfactory academic progress, and receipt of other aid. Students are required to notify the Financial Aid Office of any other aid received or anticipated for the loan period.
In-school Loan Deferment
In-school deferments allow students to temporarily stop making or reduce payments on student loans while enrolled in school at least half-time. You should request the applicable form from your loan servicer.
47 Sixth Street
The Financial Aid Office will complete the bottom of page two; Section 4: Authorized Official’s Certification and return it to you.
Note: Meridian cannot submit the form on the your behalf. You must submit it to your loan servicer.
Change(s) of Personal Information
It is each student’s responsibility to make sure that Meridian University and the U.S. Department of Education have the most current and correct address, phone number, and email information. If this information changes, the respective representatives must be notified.
In the event of a legal name change, notify the Meridian Academic Records and Financial Aid Offices. Additionally the U.S. Department of Education requires notification of your legal name change. Call the Federal Student Aid Loan Department at 1-800-848-0978, and go to NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System).
Satisfactory Academic Progress
Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible for federal loan disbursements. Please refer to the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress page for complete details.
Students who register as Continuation Students and are not enrolled in the initial eight-quarter PhD/EdD dissertation period, the four-quarter PsyD Clinical Case Study (CCS) period, or the four-quarter dissertation/CCS extension periods are not eligible for financial aid or in-school deferments on student loans. This includes students in the Fieldwork process. See Doctoral Project Fees and Financial Aid.
Meridian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation or identity, physical or mental disability, citizenship status (within the limits imposed by law), marital status, medical condition, or age in any of its policies, procedures or practices.
Cost of Attendance
Cost of Attendance (COA) is a budget determined by Meridian University to estimate the cost of education for the academic year. This estimated budget includes both direct costs, which include applicable bills from the University such as tuition and residential fees, as well as estimates of indirect costs, which include expected expenses that may be incurred by the student but are not directly paid to the University such as living expenses (outside of the fees associated with Meridian’s Residential Accommodation Plan), books, travel, personal, and/or miscellaneous expenses. The cost of attendance is an estimate of educational expenses for the period of enrollment.
The estimated figures of the indirect costs listed are are based on both California regional and metropolitan budgets developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as benchmarked against other comparable graduate programs. These are only estimates. Individual student costs may vary based on standard of living and where the student lives. A breakdown of the COA is available here (based on full time enrollment status).
Financial Aid Support and Assistance
The following links will walk you through the FAFSA and Financial Aid Process.
- Federal Student Aid
- Find types of loans and the amounts a graduate student can borrow:
- Check the status of your loan(s) by visiting studentloans.gov
- Retrieve federal student aid information from a central database at nslds.ed.gov
- Loan Repayment Information/Debt Counseling:
- Watch IRS data retrieval tool and instructions at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD4TTatm9oI
- Find Consolidation/Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Information at studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/consolidation
- How to contact the FSA Ombudsman Group: studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/disputes/prepare
- More help can be found from the Affordable Colleges Online Resource Center at www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/
- A variety of online calculators, such as financial and investments, mortgage and tax, salary and savings calculators can be found at goodcalculators.com
- Federal Student Aid Glossary
The following links are free online resources to create a budget outline
- Money management portal: practicalmoneyskills.com
- The Dollar Stretcher: stretcher.com
- GradSense Budget Calculator: http://gradsense.org/gradsense/budget-calculator
- Budgeting software: www.mint.com or www.youneedabudget.com
- Loan Repayment Calculator
Estimating Cost of Living
- CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/
- Economic Policy Institute's "Family Budget" Calculator: http://www.epi.org/resources/budget/
- Award-winning journalist and best-selling author: jeanchatzky.com
- Information about your FICO Score: myfico.com
- One-stop money management for students: whatsmyscore.org
- Credit counseling: consumercredit.com
- Free annual credit report: annualcreditreport.com
Free scholarship search engines
Remember, watch out for financial aid scams. You should never be asked to pay for scholarship applications.
Financial Aid Resources for Students with Disabilities
MoneyGeek.com offers resources for students with disabilities:
- Scholarships and financial aid for students: www.moneygeek.com/education/college/resources/scholarship-guide-for-students-with-disabilities/
- Understanding ADA laws and rights of workers: www.moneygeek.com/careers/resources/workers-with-disabilities-and-ada/
Other Outside Sources of Financial Assistance
The federal government has created several tax benefits for families who are saving, or already paying, for higher education. There are also benefits for people who are repaying their student loans. For information from the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), visit Higher Education Tax Incentives. This website is a good resource for explaining the benefits and qualifications for each tax relief program. For more details on these programs, contact your accountant or you may call the IRS Office of Public Liaison at (202) 622-2970 or visit the Internal Revenue Service website at www.irs.gov.
International students are welcome to apply for admission into Meridian’s graduate degree programs. Click here to find Resources for international students.
Meridian does not participate in the Federal Work-Study program. Employment at Meridian is not available to current students.
Private Alternative Education Loans
Under the Federal Financial Aid program available to Meridian students, students may borrow up to the cost of attendance (as determined by the University) less other aid received.
Non-federal loan programs may require the following:
- At least half-time enrollment
- A good credit history
- Demonstrated ability to repay the loan
- US citizenship or permanent resident status
Some loans may also require a credit-worthy US citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
It is important that you make an informed decision regarding the lender and loan program you select. Students are encouraged to review their eligibility for federal student loans before pursuing private education loans as the terms and conditions may be more favorable. For details on federal student loans and their provisions, please visit http://studentaid.ed.gov.
The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosure requirements on private education loans took effect on February 14, 2010. The US Department of Education regulations on private education loans require that:
- The lender present full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the loan (including fees, interest rates, repayment amounts)
- The school certify a student’s cost of attendance and eligibility prior to the lender disbursing funds
- The lender obtain written confirmation through a signed self-certification from the borrower that he/she understands the terms and conditions prior to releasing loan funds to the school
The new disclosure requirements may extend the processing time for private loans and may delay the release of loan funds to the school. Please allow a minimum of three weeks for processing of private alternative loans.
You will be required to complete the following disclosure form before a lender will disburse a private loan: Private Education Loan Application Self Certification (PDF).
- Students must be enrolled at least half-time
- Creditworthy (good credit history) or credit ready (no credit history and adhere to cumulative debt limits)
- Sufficient monthly income to repay the loan
- Stable residence and employment history
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Students generally have three repayment options (refer to terms and conditions for specific options):
- Pay interest and principal while in school
- Pay interest-only while in school
- Defer principal and interest and have the interest capitalized (added to your principal)
There may be a minimum payment per month, adjusted depending on amount borrowed. The repayment period is 15 to 25 years depending upon the type of loan and the amount borrowed.
The interest rates are usually variable and may be based on the prime rate or LIBOR rating percentage points depending on the loan program and the lender.
The guarantee fee is often between 0% and 10%, depending on the student’s credit history and the availability of a co-applicant for the loan. In addition, some loans have an additional fee added to the principal balance when the loan goes into repayment.
To Apply for a Private Alternative Loan
If you would like to apply for a private alternative loan, visit the FinAid.org website to find a lender with which you would like to work.
For complete details regarding the terms and conditions of each alternative loan program, contact the lender directly or visit their website.
Note: Meridian does not have preferred lender arrangements nor does it maintain a preferred lender list.
Glossary of Financial Aid Terms
CAPITALIZATION – If a student chooses to defer paying interest on a loan while in school, the interest is capitalized or added to the principal when the loan enters repayment.
CREDIT BALANCE REFUND – A credit balance issued to the student within 14 days from the date of disbursement in the case that their financial aid exceeds their quarterly charges.
DEFAULT – Failure to repay a Federal loan, effective when a student is delinquent 270 or more days.
DEFERMENT – An entitlement which allows a student to temporarily postpone payments for a variety of reasons including: unemployment, disability and returning to school.
DELINQUENCY – A student is considered to be delinquent on a student loan if payments are not made on time and are overdue. Delinquency can adversely affect a student’s credit rating and history.
DIRECT PLUS LOAN – Federally guaranteed loans for graduate and professional students. Requires credit approval by U.S. Department of Education.
DIRECT STAFFORD LOAN – A federal loan funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
DISBURSEMENT – Loan funds issued by U.S. Department of Education to the school through electronic fund transfer.
FINANCIAL AID ELIGIBILITY – The difference between the total Cost of Attendance and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
FORBEARANCE – A forbearance is an agreement with the holder of the loan, at its discretion, to postpone payments.
GRACE PERIOD – The amount of time allowed before principal repayment of loan must begin after a student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time status.
INTEREST RATE – Based on the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, federal student loan interest rates will be tied to financial markets. Under this Act, interest rates will be determined each June for new loans being made for the upcoming award year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30. Each loan will have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. Private Alternative Loans are generally variable and adjusted quarterly.
MASTER PROMISSORY NOTE (MPN) – The Master Promissory Note is a legal document. By signing it, a student promises to repay current and all future loans. Under this note a student may receive loans for a single enrollment period or for multiple enrollment periods.
ORIGINATION FEE – The fee charged by the government to offset the cost of processing the loan. The amount of the fee is deducted from the dollar amount of the loan.
PRINCIPAL – The amount of the loan that must be repaid upon maturity and the amount upon which interest will be charged.
PRIVATE LOAN – A non-federal loan designed to cover tuition costs plus a variety of additional costs and living expenses. Interest rates and terms are based on the applicants’ credit score.
SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) - Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards ensure that you are successfully completing your coursework and can continue to receive financial aid. All students receiving financial aid are required to meet SAP standards.
UNSUBSIDIZED FEDERAL STAFFORD LOAN – The student is responsible for paying the interest on the loan from the date of disbursement through repayment.