Leave, Withdrawals, and Refund Policy
Financial aid awards may be reduced or canceled if the student fails to maintain required enrollment status so it is important that students speak with the Financial Aid Office before reducing or changing enrollment status.
Leave of Absence
In order to remain a coursework student, students must stay continuously registered. A Leave of Absence disrupts the continuity of the learning experience and is discouraged. However, if illness or other serious circumstances occur that prevent a student from continuing in their program (e.g., death of a family member, financial crisis, illness, etc.) the student may apply for a Leave of Absence. Leaves’ of Absence are approved based on the expectation that the student will return to complete their degree. Only coursework students may apply for a Leave of Absence; this option is not available to continuation students.
Students should note the following implications that may apply while taking a Leave of Absence:
- The student does not receive services;
- Depending on the length of the leave, the student may be able to return back into the sequence of courses they left off in, however the sequential nature of the curriculum may be disrupted. This may cause complexity in re-entry - such as needing to retake courses or wait until certain courses are next available. Students should consider this when requesting a leave.
- Students in the Psychology programs may not use any psychotherapy hours taken during the leave towards the graduation requirement;
- Students may not participate in and/or accrue fieldwork hours.
A Leave of Absence may be requested for a minimum of one quarter and may not exceed one academic year. When the Leave of Absence has expired, the student must return to the graduate program they are enrolled in or they will be subject to administrative withdrawal (see below). Students who take an unofficial leave will be considered to be withdrawn; such students will need to seek readmission should they want to complete their degree at Meridian.
The date on which the Leave of Absence request has been approved (which in many cases is the date on which the form was received) constitutes the effective date of the leave. This date will be used to calculate any prorated refund of tuition and/or fees. Financial aid recipients’ funding will be evaluated based on the federal refund policy as outlined in the Return of Title IV Funds policy.
Implications and Limitations on Leaves of Absence for Federal Student Aid Recipients
Students requesting a Leave of Absence, who have federal loans should be aware of the following:
- While Meridian academic policy (above) does permit students to take approved leaves of absence, for Federal Student Aid purposes, the student is reported to the Department of Education as withdrawn from the University as of the effective date of their approved leave of absence.
- Students who have FSA awards who take a leave of absence will need to complete exit counseling and should be aware of additional implications regarding their aid from Meridian and previous institutions described below.
- If the leave exceeds 180 days the student’s “grace period” will end and the federal loan(s) received while enrolled at Meridian will immediately enter repayment.
- If a student has any prior financial aid for which the grace period has already ended, repayment of those loans will start immediately based on the effective date of the of the student’s enrollment status change.
- The Return of Title IV Federal Funds process will be initiated based on the effective date of the student’s enrollment status change. See the Return of Title IV Federal Funds policy below for information on the timeline of calculation and return of federal funds to the Department of Education.
All financial aid recipients must complete Exit Counseling as required by federal regulations. Lenders will be notified through the National Student Clearinghouse of the last date of attendance and the repayment terms and conditions of the loan will begin.
Initiating a Leave
To initiate a Leave of Absence, the student submits a Leave of Absence Application along with the leave of absence fee. The application must include the student’s specific personal circumstances for requesting a Leave of Absence. Tuition and all fees continue to accrue until the Leave of Absence Application and fee are received. The Leave of Absence Application is evaluated by the Student Development Committee and may require 20 to 30 working days for evaluation.
Returning from Leave
To return from a Leave of Absence, the student must submit a written request for return to the attention of the Records Office at least four to eight weeks prior to the beginning of the quarter in which the student intends to return. Requests to return are reviewed based on financial and academic clearance, and include the Student Development Committee’s review.
Students applying for a return from a Leave of Absence must be cleared to register and may be asked to complete a return-from-leave interview.
In some cases, students returning from a Leave of Absence may be required to take additional coursework which was not specified at the time the Leave was initiated. Such additions may lengthen a student’s coursework requirement by as much as one year, in addition to the length of the leave itself. The length of time the student was on a Leave of Absence, along with any additional coursework requirements upon return, may necessitate returning to a different cohort.
A student who is on academic and/or financial aid probation may not meet the terms of probation if the leave is not part of the approved academic plan upon which the probation is based.
It is the student’s responsibility to track the courses they have missed over the period of their leave. Taking these courses will involve either joining a cohort subsequent to the one in which they were originally a member, taking individual courses with cohorts concurrent with their regular coursework, or taking such courses after their coursework with their cohort is finished (called ‘looping around’). The Student Development Committee may specify that some of these missed courses can be taken at another graduate institution to be transferred into the student’s record. Prior to starting a course taken elsewhere, the student is advised to submit a description of the course, to make sure that it would be acceptable to transfer in against the course they missed with their cohort.
Students on financial aid should be aware that disbursements of student loan funds and in-school deferment statuses are affected by leaves of absence. (See “Implications and Limitations on Leaves of Absence for Federal Student Aid Recipients” above)
Administrative Leave of Absence
Typically, students initiate their own requests to the Student Development Committee (SDC) for leave of absence. However, on occasion as an outcome of an academic review, the SDC may require that the student take an administrative leave of absence (ALOA). An ALOA is for a specific period of time during which no student fees are charged.
The SDC chooses this option when the student's success at Meridian would be better enabled through learning and development in contexts other than Meridian. The SDC makes recommendations for learning during the period of the ALOA and specifies conditions for return to study at Meridian.
The student is supported to return from an ALOA after a review by the SDC, during which the student's responses to the committee's recommendations and conditions are assessed.
Students are encouraged to consult with cohort advisors or other administrative or financial personnel prior to withdrawal in order to receive support in the decision-making process and to discuss any possible options that are alternative to withdrawal.
Student initiated-withdrawals are effective as of the first day received by Meridian administration, except in the case of a student who requests to withdraw while still on leave. When a Student initiated withdrawal request is made while the student is on leave or immediately upon return from leave, the withdrawal date will be the date the student began the leave of absence. Students may also request to be withdrawn effective as of a future date, such as at the end of a quarter.
The Records Office will withdraw students when academic engagement cannot be confirmed regardless of whether the student has notified administration of their withdrawal and in accordance with the Student Handbook. The withdrawal date will be the last date of confirmed academic engagement, as determined by Records in compliance with applicable policies and regulations. Based on the effective date, the student may receive a prorated refund.
If a withdrawn student wishes to re-enter the same program they left, they must submit the Readmissions Application.
Students must be in good financial standing in order to re-enroll. All past due tuition and fees must be paid in advance of readmission. Tuition for the upcoming start of classes must be paid prior to the first day of readmission. No student will be re-admitted without first settling their financial obligations to the University, and then signing a new enrollment agreement.
Requests for readmission are submitted to the Student Development Committee. The readmission request outlines the personal circumstances at the time of withdrawal and the academic goals at the time of readmission. You would also submit the Readmissions fee. The Committee makes a decision based on the academic, financial, and other circumstances relevant to the students’ withdrawal and readmission. Applicants may be asked to document how their circumstances have changed to permit timely completion of the program requirements.
Re-admissions requests are subject to review and re-enrollment is not automatic or guaranteed. The University may require that additional conditions be met. At the discretion of the Director of Assessment and Student Development, a new application submitted through admissions may be required if the out-of-school period has exceeded 5 years.
Records staff will be available to provide guidance regarding re-enrollment dates, academic offerings, financial considerations, and other variables related to a return to school. Records will notify the student of the outcome of the request for re-enrollment, and any conditions upon readmission.
Federal, state, and institutional financial aid funds are awarded to a student based on the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire quarter for which the aid is awarded. According to federal law, the Financial Aid Office must recalculate Title IV financial aid eligibility for a student who withdraws from all classes, drops below half-time enrollment, is withdrawn from the program, or takes a leave of absence prior to completing more than 60% of a quarter. The Financial Aid Office will calculate the amounts of “earned” (can keep) and “unearned” (must return) aid. Any credit balance on a student’s account resulting from a tuition refund will be refunded to the student by check or direct deposit. Otherwise, the tuition refund will be applied to any unpaid balance on the student's account. If a refund is due to the student and the student paid by credit card, the refund amount may be credited back to the student’s credit card that paid for the fees at the time.
Funds are then returned to the appropriate aid programs, which may result in a bill to the student for any tuition and fees still owed after the required return of financial aid funds.
The date of the Leave of Absence or withdrawal will be determined by the date written notification is received by the Records Office or the last date of confirmed academic engagement, as applicable. If a student withdraws or requests a Leave of Absence from Meridian after classes have begun, they will receive a prorated refund of the tuition charges as stated below. If the student is administratively withdrawn, the effective date of administrative withdrawal is used for refund calculation purposes.
Tuition Refund Calculation
|On or before the first day of class of the quarter*||100% refunded|
|Day 2 to day 29 of class of the quarter||**See note|
|Day 30 and beyond of class of the quarter||0% refunded|
*Or within 7 days of signing the Enrollment Agreement.
**Note: Refund calculations from day 2 to day 29 of class of the quarter are calculated as follows: the number of days of class of the quarter that the student was enrolled is divided by the total number of scheduled days of class per quarter in accordance with Meridian academic policy. This calculation produces the percentage of tuition that the student owes, and therefore their refund amount is the complementary percentage.
Residential Accommodations Fee Refund Policy
If a student attends any portion of a residency and then withdraws, takes a Leave of Absence, or misses a portion of the residency, a refund will only apply to future residencies and not the residency during which the student withdrew, missed classes, or took a Leave of Absence.
Doctoral Project Fees Refund Policy
For example, if a student withdraws in the middle of their second quarter of their eight quarter dissertation clock, they would be refunded all but two-quarters worth of their dissertation fee, which covers eight-quarters. Any financial aid would be canceled, and a Return of Title IV Aid calculation would be completed.
Continuation Fee Refund Policy
Continuation students who complete all graduation requirements or withdraw from Meridian University will receive a refund of the Continuation Fee, prorated on a quarterly basis, based on their date of degree conferral or effective date of withdrawal. Continuation students who complete their program or withdraw on or after June 1 of an academic year will not receive a prorated Continuation Fee refund.
Additional Refund Information
You have the right to cancel your agreement for a program of instruction, without any penalty or obligations, through attendance at the first class session or the seventh calendar day after enrollment, whichever is later. After the end of the cancellation period, you also have the right to stop school at any time; and you have the right to receive a prorated refund if you have completed 60 percent or less of the scheduled days in the current payment period in your program through the last day of attendance. “Scheduled days” for a quarter begin on the the first day of class.
For Students Who Have Received Federal Student Financial Aid:
“Refunds” refers to the calculation of institutional charges and is a separate calculation from the Return of Federal Funds calculation. The amount of refundable institutional charges (tuition and residential fees) will be prorated based on University policy. If there is a balance due by the student as a result of the unearned financial aid being returned, the student will be responsible for payment of the difference.
If a student has received federal student financial aid funds, the student is entitled to a refund of monies not paid from federal student financial aid program funds on the same basis as noted above.
Financial aid recipients’ funding will be evaluated based on the federal refund policy as outlined in the Return of Title IV Funds policy. Any return of Title IV funds will be paid as applicable, 1) Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, 2) Federal PLUS/Direct Loan 3) Other Federal, state, private or institutional aid, 4) the student. If the student has received personal payments of Title IV aid, he/she may be required to refund the aid to the applicable program. Students attending the institution for the first time who withdraw or terminate prior to course completion and who are recipients of Title IV funds shall be evaluated for a return of Title IV funds according to federal guidelines. All financial aid recipients must complete an Exit Interview as required by federal regulations. Lenders will be notified through the National Student Clearinghouse of the last date of attendance and the repayment terms and conditions of the loan will begin. See Return of Title IV Funds policy below.
STUDENT’S RIGHT TO CANCEL AND SCHOOL’S RIGHT TO CANCEL:
Meridian: Meridian may terminate the Enrollment Agreement at any time, if in Meridian’s sole discretion, it determines that termination would be in the best interest of Meridian for reasons it articulates in writing to the student. In that event, Meridian may refund to you an amount in accordance with the policies outlined within.
Return of Federal Funds policy (R2T4)
Meridian has implemented the Return of Federal Funds policy as required by federal regulations (Sect. 668.22 Higher Education Amendments of 1998). For those students who are eligible and receive federal financial aid and find it necessary to withdraw from Meridian prior to the completion of the current quarter, the following federal policy applies.
- The focus of the policy is to return the unearned portion of the federal financial aid for the enrollment period.
- Only the amount of financial aid that has been earned (based on the number of calendar days completed in the period of enrollment) will be retained on the student’s behalf.
- Any aid unearned will be returned to the U.S. Department of Education.
- If a student withdraws from school on or before the 60% point in the Quarter, then the school and possibly the student shall return the percentage of unearned Title IV federal financial aid.
- The distribution of returned funds is as follows:
- Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
- Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan
- Grad PLUS Loan
- State, Private, or Institutional Aid
- The Student
The law specifies how Meridian must determine the amount of Title IV program assistance that you earn if you withdraw from school. The Title IV programs offered at Meridian are:
- Federal Direct Graduate Loans (Unsubsidized)
- Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
Calculation of the Amount of Title IV Funds That a Student Has Earned Upon Withdrawal:
When you withdraw from school during a payment period the amount of Title IV program assistance that you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. The amount of assistance that you have earned is determined on a prorated basis. For example, if you completed 30% of the scheduled hours in your payment period, you earn 30% of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed more than 60% of the scheduled hours in your payment period, you earn all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period.
The Condition Under Which Title IV Program Funds Would Be Required To Be Returned:
If you received more assistance than you earned, the excess funds must be returned by the school and/or you. If you receive (or your school or parent received on your behalf) excess Title IV program funds that must be returned, your school must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of: your institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds, or the entire amount of excess funds. The school must return this amount even if it didn’t keep this amount of your Title IV program funds.
The Condition under Which a Student Would Be Owed a Disbursement of Title IV Program Funds upon Withdrawal from the Institution:
If you received (or your school or parent received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds as follows:
If you did not receive all of the funds that you earned, you may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If your post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, your school must get your permission before it can disburse them. You may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that you don’t incur additional debt. Your school may automatically use all or a portion of your post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the school). The school needs your permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If you do not give your permission (some schools ask for this when you enroll), you will be offered the funds. However, it may be in your best interest to allow the school to keep the funds to reduce your debt at the school.
There are some Title IV funds that you were scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed to you once you withdraw because of other eligibility requirements. For example, if you are a first-time, first-year undergraduate student and you have not completed the first 30 days of your program before you withdraw, you will not receive any Direct Loan funds that you would have received had you remained enrolled past the 30th day.
How the Withdrawal Date For a Student Who Withdraws Officially or Unofficially is Determined:
Time Frame for the Return of Title IV Funds:
The school has 45 days from the withdrawal date to complete an R2T4 calculation and return any funds due to the Title IV programs. If a student on a Leave of Absence does not return by the approved end date of their leave, an R2T4 calculation will be completed based on the effective date the leave of absence began.
The Order in Which Title IV Program Funds Must Be Returned:
The school and or the student if applicable must return Title IV funds to the programs from which the student received aid during the payment period or period of enrollment as applicable, in the following order, up to the net amount disbursed from each source:
- Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans (other than PLUS loans).
- Direct Graduate PLUS loans.
Repayment of Student Loans
The student loans that remain outstanding in (Box R) of Step 8 of the R2T4 calculation worksheet consist of the loans disbursed to the student (Box B) minus any loans the school repaid in Step 6, Block P. These outstanding loans are to be repaid by the student according to the terms of the student’s promissory notes.
A School’s Responsibilities in The Return of Funds by The Student:
A school has responsibilities that continue beyond completing the Return calculation and returning the funds for which it is responsible. Here we discuss the institution’s participation in the return of funds by the student.
Students who owe overpayments as a result of withdrawals initially will retain their eligibility for Title IV funds for a maximum of 45 days from the earlier of:
- The date the school sends the student notice of the overpayment, or
- The date the school was required to notify the student of the overpayment.
Within 30 days of determining that a student who withdrew must repay all or part of a Title IV grant, the school will notify the student in writing via U.S mail that he or she must repay the overpayment or make satisfactory arrangements to repay it. In its notification, the school will inform the student of the following five items:
- The student owes an overpayment of Title IV funds.
- The student’s eligibility for additional Title IV funds will end if the student fails to take positive action by the 45th day following the date the school sent or was required to send notification to the student.
There are three positive actions a student can take to extend his or her eligibility for Title IV funds beyond 45 days:
- The student may repay the overpayment in full to the school.
- The student may sign a repayment agreement with the school. Note: Two years is the maximum time a school may allow for repayment.
- The student may sign a repayment agreement with the Department.
*****The student should contact the school to discuss his or her options*****
Consequences for Not Following up on the Notification:
If the student takes no positive action during the 45-day period, the school will report the overpayment within a few days of the end of the 45-day period to NSLDS on the NSLDS Professional Access Web site under the AID tab, “Overpayment List” menu option after the 45-day period has elapsed.
If the student fails to take one of the positive actions during the 45-day period, the student’s overpayment will be reported immediately to the NSLDS and referred to the Debt Resolution Services for collection.
When a student receives additional funds during the 45-day period of extended eligibility:
Students who owe overpayments as a result of withdrawals generally will retain their eligibility for Title IV funds for a maximum of 45 days from the earlier of (a) the date the school sends the student notice of the overpayment, or (b) the date the school was required to notify the student of the overpayment. A student who receives Title IV funds within that period of extended eligibility and then fails to return the overpayment or make repayment arrangements becomes ineligible for additional Title IV program funds on the day following the 45-day period. However, any Title IV program funds received by the student during the 45-day period were received while the student was eligible. Therefore, those Title IV funds do not have to be returned (unless the student withdraws a second time). A student who loses his or her eligibility for Title IV funds at the expiration of the 45-day period will remain ineligible for additional Title IV funds until the student enters into a repayment agreement with the Department.
If, at any time, a student who previously negotiated a repayment arrangement fails to comply with the terms of his or her agreement to repay, that student immediately becomes ineligible for additional Title IV funds.
The school will also notify the student in writing via U.S. mail using a Refund Calculation worksheet, of the amounts of aid that were retained by the school for institutional charges and the amount(s) of aid that will be refunded by the school to each Title IV program. The student will also be notified of the amount of Title IV loans they will owe after all applicable refunds have been made, the requirement for the student to complete exit counseling, when the student will be responsible to start repayment of their student loans and who they may contact for further assistance or to report any changes to their personal information.
The requirements for Title IV program funds when you withdraw are separate from any Institutional Refund Policy that your school may have. Therefore, you may still owe funds to the school to cover unpaid institutional charges. Your school may also charge you for any Title IV program funds that the school was required to return.
If you have questions about your Title IV program funds, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913. Information is also available on Student Aid on the Web at www.studentaid.ed.gov.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Student:
Students are responsible for completing all forms accurately and by the published deadlines. They are also responsible for submitting information requested to the Financial Aid Office in a timely manner. Along with the information, students are responsible for keeping the Financial Aid Office up to date with any changes to name, address, and marital status. In addition students should notify the Financial Aid Office of any assistance from non-college sources such as scholarships, loans, and educational benefits. Students are responsible for informing the Financial Aid Office of any enrollment changes such as requests for leave of absences. Lastly, but not limited to, students are responsible for maintaining satisfactory academic progress, and re-applying for aid each year.