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Financial Aid Overview

Financial Aid, which is only available to US citizens, permanent residents or immigrants, and is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need, and is administered by the Office of Financial Aid. Graduate students and/or applicants who meet the above description are highly encouraged to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as many forms of aid, including some fellowships and grants, may require a completed FAFSA. Although the FAFSA can be filed at any time, it is strongly suggested that you file by the priority processing date of March 2nd.


Student Loans

Financial aid awards that require repayment, loans, offer the opportunity to defer the cost of your educational expenses by borrowing now and repaying later. Some loan programs are based on financial need, but there are loan programs available to all students regardless of income. Loan programs available through UC Merced are federally funded, providing long-term, low-interest loans.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans - Not based on financial need, these loans are available to all eligible students, regardless of income. This loan is “unsubsidized” in that the student is responsible for paying all interest due. There is no federal interest subsidy for the loan. Interest accrues immediately upon disbursement. Borrowers may elect to pay accrued interest on a monthly or quarterly basis or have it added back to the principal balance in a process called capitalization.

PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students – Graduate and professional degree students are eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance.  The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS Loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans.  These requirements include a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history, repayment beginning on the date of the last disbursement of the loan.  Applicants for these loans are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  They also must have applied for their annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program before applying for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan.  

For more information on the academic requirements for student loans, please refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress section under Financial Aid.


Fellowships and Student Loans

Per federal guidelines, all fellowship and tuition support is taken into consideration when determining student loan eligibility. If you have or will receive federal student loans during the academic, please note that any award could reduce your student loan eligibility, resulting in a loan overpayment. If so, the award(s) would be applied to the overpayment and the remaining balance, if any, would then be disbursed. Your loan debt would then be reduced accordingly. Please check with the Office of Financial Aid before accepting any fellowships if you are concerned about the impact an award may have on your student loan eligibility.