Financial aid awards may be reduced or canceled if the student fails to maintain required registration status so it is important that students speak with the Financial Aid Office before reducing one’s course load or changing registration or enrollment status.
Leave of Absence
In order to remain a coursework student, students must stay continuously registered. Leaves of Absence are discouraged as they disrupt the continuity of the learning experience. 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) the student may apply for a Leave of Absence.
Only coursework students may apply for a Leave of Absence; this option is not available to continuation students.
During a Leave of Absence:
- The student does not receive services;
- Students in the Psychology programs may not use any psychotherapy hours accrued during the leave towards the graduation requirement, nor accrue fieldwork hours.
- Students in the MBA program may not accrue hours towards their Creative Action Practicum.
Depending on the length of the leave, the courses remaining for the student to take, and the current quarter’s course offerings, the student may not be able to return back precisely when they wish to do so to resume taking the specific courses they need. This may result in the student needing to delay their re-entry in order to wait until certain courses are next available.
A Leave of Absence may be requested for a minimum of one quarter and may not exceed one academic year. The effective start date is the first day of the upcoming quarter. The request for a Leave of Absence must be submitted at least six weeks prior to the start of the quarter for which the leave is to begin. The request may not be submitted more than one quarter prior to the requested start date.
Requests for a Leave of Absence submitted after the first day of a quarter are denied except in rare cases of documented personal crisis which prohibited the student from making the request in the proper time frame (such as a death in the family or a health crisis). Such crises notwithstanding, the student’s options after the start date of a quarter are to withdraw or to proceed with their courses for the quarter.
When the approved Leave of Absence has expired, the student must return to the program in which they are enrolled or they will be subject to administrative withdrawal. Students who take an unapproved leave will be administratively withdrawn and need to seek readmission should they wish to complete their degree at Meridian.
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 six 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. (Submit this request for return to the Student Services Team: [email protected])
Students requesting to 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.
A student who is on academic probation will 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 availability of courses required for graduation and how a leave may impact their estimated completion date.
Students who have outstanding coursework (Incomplete grades) from their last quarter of attendance will need to submit their late work for each such incomplete course within five calendar days from the start of the quarter in which the student returns.
Administrative Leave of Absence
Typically, the student initiates their own request to the Student Development Committee for a Leave of Absence. However, on occasion as an outcome of an academic review, the Student Development Committee 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 Student Development Committee chooses this option when the student's success at Meridian would be better enabled through learning and development in contexts other than Meridian. The committee 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 Student Development Committee, during which the student's responses to the committee's recommendations and conditions are assessed.
Implications and Limitations on Leaves of Absence for Federal Student Aid Recipients
Students who have federal loans (called Title IV Federal Funds) and who are requesting a Leave of Absence should be aware of the following:
- While Meridian academic policy does permit students to take approved leaves of absence, per Federal Student Aid (FSA) regulations, 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 as required by federal regulations and should be aware of additional implications regarding their aid from Meridian and previous institutions described directly 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 requirements for repayment.
- If a student has any prior financial aid where the grace period for this prior aid has already ended, repayment of those loans will start immediately based on the effective date of the student’s Leave of Absence.
- The Return of Title IV Federal Funds process will be initiated based on the effective date of the student’s change of enrollment status (i.e., Day One of the student’s leave). See Return of Title IV Federal Funds below in this policy for information on the timeline of calculation and return of federal funds to the Department of Education.
There are two kinds of circumstances in which a student is withdrawn from the University: If the student chooses to withdraw, versus if they are withdrawn by the University.
Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor or other administrative or financial personnel prior to withdrawal in order to receive support in the decision-making process as to whether or not to withdraw. This will also involve discussion of potential options that are other than having to withdraw.
If the student does decide to withdraw from the University, the student must submit a signed, written statement to: [email protected] or if in hard copy, to the Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 This statement should address the student’s reasons for withdrawing.
Student initiated-withdrawals are effective as of the day received by the University, except in the case of a student who requests to withdraw while on a Leave of Absence. If the withdrawal request is submitted while the student is on leave or immediately upon return from leave, the withdrawal date will be the day before the leave began. Students may also request to be withdrawn effective as of a future date, such as at the end of a quarter.
A student will be withdrawn when academic engagement cannot be confirmed or for other reasons per the Administrative Withdrawal policy in the Student Handbook, even if the student has not notified the Student Services Team of their wish to withdraw. The withdrawal date will be the last date of confirmed academic engagement as determined by the Student Services Team in compliance with applicable policies and regulations. Based on the effective date, the student may receive a prorated refund.
Request for Re-Admission
If a withdrawn student wishes to return to the University, they do not submit submit the regular Admissions Application but instead submit the Application for Readmission. In the readmission application, the student is asked to detail their personal circumstances at the time of withdrawal, their academic goals now - at the time they are seeking readmission - and to discuss in what ways their circumstances have now perhaps changed to permit timely completion of program requirements.
Requests for readmission are reviewed and assessed by the Student Development Committee. The Committee’s decision is based on the academic, financial, and other circumstances relevant to the students’ prior withdrawal. Re-admission requests are subject to review; acceptance is not automatic or guaranteed. The University may require that additional conditions - beyond those of the degree program’s current graduation requirements - be met.
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. No student will be re-admitted without first settling their financial obligations to the University.
The Student Services Team will be available to provide guidance regarding re-enrollment dates, academic offerings, financial considerations, and other variables related to a return to the University. The Student Services Team 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 the University for the entire quarter for which the aid is awarded. In accordance with 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 registration, is withdrawn from their 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 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 had paid by credit card, the refund amount may be credited back to the student’s credit card that had been used for the fees at the time.
Funds are 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.
Students taking a Leave of Absence or withdrawing from Meridian are eligible for a tuition refund after submitting written notification to: Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 or [email protected].
The date of the Leave of Absence or withdrawal will be determined by the date written notification is received by the Student Services Team, the last date of confirmed academic engagement, or other metrics per Meridian policy, 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
|Time Period||Amount Refunded|
|On or before the first day of class of the quarter*||100% refunded|
|Day 2 to day 29 of class of the quarter||See Directly Below|
|Day 30 and beyond of class of the quarter||0% refunded|
*Or within 7 days of signing the Enrollment Agreement.
Tuition Refunds Day 2 to Day 29 of Class
Refund calculations from day 2 to day 29 of class are calculated as follows: The number of days of class in which the student was enrolled is divided by the total number of scheduled days of class for the entire 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
Students who plan to miss a week-long residency who have signed up for the Residential Accommodations Plan for the quarter (for residencies which provide meals and/or lodging) will be eligible for a partial refund of the Residential Accommodations Fee if written notification is submitted to [email protected] by the deadline established for refunds for the specific residency in the Residential Accommodations Plan for the quarter. The prorated refund will not include the non-refundable portion of the fee.
If a student attends any portion of a residency and then withdraws, takes a Leave of Absence, or misses a portion of the residency, any potential refund will only apply to future residencies and not the residency during which the student withdrew, missed classes, or took a Leave of Absence.
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 1st of an academic year do not receive a prorated Continuation Fee refund.
Doctoral Project Fees Refund Policy
If a student withdraws from their program while inside the doctoral project clock, the date of withdrawal will be determined by the date written notification is received by the Student Services Team. If the student withdraws after the first day of a quarter, the student will be charged based on the quarterly breakdown of their doctoral project fee, including charges applicable to the current quarter. For example, if a student withdraws in the middle of the second quarter of their eight quarter dissertation clock, they would be refunded all but two quarters worth of their dissertation fee. Any financial aid would be canceled, and a Return of Title IV Aid calculation would be completed. Any excess payment will be refunded within forty five (45) days of notification of withdrawal, or as required by state and federal regulations.
As with all withdrawals, students who withdraw while inside their doctoral project clock must submit a written request to: Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 or [email protected].
(Note that Leaves of Absence are not discussed in this section, as the Leave of Absence is not available for continuation students - and so is not available during the doctoral clock enrollment period.)
Additional Refund Information
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, they 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:
Student: You have the right to terminate your enrollment by submitting written notification of your withdrawal to: Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 or [email protected]. Tuition and fees may be refundable in accordance Federal Financial Aid Refund policy.
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.
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.
Return of Federal Funds policy (R2T4)
Meridian University follows the Return of Federal Funds policy as required by federal regulation (Sect. 668.22 Higher Education Amendments of 1998). For those students who 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 by the University (based on the number of calendar days completed in the period of enrollment) will be retained. Any unearned aid will be returned by the University to the U.S. Department of Education.
- This return of aid (called Return of Federal Funds) is calculated based on either:
- the date the student begins the official withdrawal process (by submitting their written withdrawal notice to: Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 or [email protected]); or
- the last date of documented attendance;
- or, for an administrative withdrawal, the mid-point of the quarter or the last documented date of attendance.
- If a student withdraws from the University on or before the 60% point in the quarter, then the University 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:
If the student withdraws from the University during a payment period, the amount of Title IV program assistance the student has earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. This amount of assistance is determined on a prorated basis. For example, if the student completed 30% of the scheduled hours in the payment period, the student earns 30% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive. Once the student has completed more than 60% of the scheduled hours in the payment period, they earn all the assistance that they had been scheduled to receive for that period. For the purposes of Title IV refunds, “scheduled hours” generally refers to the quarter length in total, not adjusted for the start and end dates of class, depending on the applicable federal policy.
The Condition Under Which Title IV Program Funds Would Be Required To Be Returned:
If the student has received more assistance than they earned, the excess funds must be returned by the school and/or the student. If the student receives excess Title IV program funds that must be returned (or should the University or parent have received these funds on the student’s behalf), the University must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of: The student’s institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds, or the entire amount of excess funds. The University must return this amount even if it didn’t keep this amount of the student’s 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 the student, the University or the student’s parent (on the student’s behalf) received less assistance than the amount the student has earned, the student may be able to receive those additional funds as follows:
If the student did not receive all of the funds they earned, the student may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the University must get the student’s permission before it can disburse them. Students may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that they do not incur additional debt. The university may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement of loan funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the University). Meridian needs the student’s permission to use the post-withdrawal loan disbursement for all other school charges. If the student does not give their permission, the student will be offered the funds. However, it may be in the best interest of the student to allow the University to keep the funds to reduce the student’s debt to the University.
There are some Title IV funds that the student might have been scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed to the student once they withdraw because of other eligibility requirements. For example, first-time, first-year undergraduate students who have not completed the first 30 days of their program prior to withdrawal would not receive any Direct Loan funds that they would have received had they remained enrolled past the 30th day.
How the Withdrawal Date For a Student Who Withdraws Officially or Unofficially is Determined:
Students taking a Leave of Absence or withdrawing from Meridian are eligible for a tuition refund after submitting written notification to: Student Services Team, Meridian University, 47 Sixth Street, Petaluma, California, 94952 or [email protected]. The date of the Leave of Absence or withdrawal will be determined by the date written notification is received by Meridian’s Student Services Team. If students withdraw or request a Leave of Absence from Meridian after instruction has begun, they will receive a prorated refund of the tuition charges as stated below. If the student is administratively withdrawn, the date of administrative withdrawal is noted as the withdrawal date.
Time Frame for the Return of Title IV Funds:
The University 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 University 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 Step 8 (Box R) of the R2T4 calculation worksheet consist of the loans disbursed to the student (Box B) minus any loans the University 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.