Federal Stafford Student Loan Program
Degree-seeking graduate students are eligible to apply for Federal Direct Student Loan funds. Graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per academic year in a Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan. The aggregate maximum borrowing limit for graduate students is $138,500 of which no more than $65,500 can be subsidized.
Students must be enrolled at least half-time each semester in order to borrow or to have loan payments deferred. Half-time is defined as four (4) to five (5) credit hours and full-time is defined as seven (7) or more credit hours per semester.
Applicants must apply for federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Financial Aid Office will then determine the amount of a loan that the student may qualify for and originate the student’s loan according to the amounts accepted on the student’s Financial Aid Offer.
Federal Graduate PLUS Loan
Students may borrow up to the cost of education (budget costs minus any financial aid received) and must use the loan funds to pay educational costs. The Department of Education will review the student credit history prior to approval of this loan. PLUS is a fixed rate loan based on first disbursement date. PLUS Loan interest rates are revised annually. Students can choose to make monthly principal and/or interest payments while in school or can choose to defer payments for up to six (6) months after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. For further information concerning this program, contact the Financial Aid Office.
Graduate student budgets vary based on the graduate program in which the student is admitted. They also vary based on the number of credit hours for which a student enrolls and can include other expenses incurred by the student as a result of enrollment in that graduate program. The allowance for books and supplies is only applicable to programs where books are not included in the cost of tuition. The budget figures listed below are for 12 months (Fall, Spring and Summer semesters).
|Type of Expense||Cost Associated|
|Tuition and Fees||Varies by program|
|Room and Board||$19,556|
|Student Loan Fees||$217|
|TOTAL||$25,352 + Program tuition and fees|
To determine the financial need of a student, calculate college costs (student budget) and subtract the Expected Family Contribution. If the Family Contribution is less than the college costs, financial need is established. The Family Contribution is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including information about income, assets, and non-taxable income. Financial need is required for participation in the Federal Work-Study program.
Graduate students must maintain satisfactory progress in their academic studies in order to receive Title IV (federal) student financial aid funds and institutionally funded financial aid. Title IV student financial aid includes the following programs: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Federal Graduate PLUS Loan.
Students Receiving Student Financial Aid Funds
The Financial Aid Office will utilize the College’s Academic Standing Policy. In addition, students must complete at least 70 percent of the semester credit hours for which they enrolled to make satisfactory progress. Any class that appears on the academic transcript as “graded” will be counted toward total credit hours enrolled. Transcript grades include the following:
|B+, B, B-||Above Average|
|C+, C, C-||Average|
|D+, D, D-||Poor|
Students attending Westminster College must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA or the specific program requirement to graduate. Students will be monitored for compliance on an annual basis at the end of the academic year. If a student is placed on academic suspension by Westminster College, the student will not be eligible for financial aid. To reinstate financial aid eligibility, the student must regain a 2.0 GPA at Westminster College.
Transfer credits taken prior to attending Westminster College are counted as completed hours. Transfer students will have a GPA based only on courses completed at Westminster College. If a student changes programs, the coursework will still be counted toward Satisfactory Academic Progress and part of the 150% program length time frame. If a student pursues a second degree, the time frame will be evaluated for the 150% program length. Coursework completed during Summer Term will be counted in the overall completion rate and entered into the 150% program length.
Incompletes, Noncredit, or Withdrawals
Incompletes, noncredit, or withdrawal grades (F, I, NC, W, T, WF) will be counted as attempted and not completed courses.
Cumulative Satisfactory Academic Progress
In addition, a student must have a 70% cumulative completion rate of the hours attempted to continue eligibility for federal financial aid. Also outlined is the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal process, qualitative measure grades and a grade point requirement listed to stay within satisfactory academic progress standards as listed below. A 2.0 GPA is required to be considered in good academic standing at Westminster College.
If satisfactory academic progress requirements are not met, the student will be determined ineligible to receive Title IV federal and Institutional funds.
Timetable for Review
Students’ records will be reviewed at the end of each academic year to determine whether they are in compliance with the satisfactory academic progress policy. The academic year ends with Spring Term and will include any period of time during the academic year the student was enrolled. Students who have grade changes that affect academic progress after it has been reviewed are responsible for notifying the Financial Aid Office so that their progress may be re-reviewed for compliance. Grade changes, including incomplete grade updates, affecting student eligibility for financial aid must be on file with the Registrar’s Office prior to the first date of classes in the next semester of enrollment in order for the student’s record to be re-reviewed for satisfactory progress in that semester.
Students enrolled in the Professional Master of Business Administration (PMBA) Program will be reviewed for compliance with the satisfactory academic progress policy using grade or grade equivalencies. Grades of "EX" (Exceeds Project Standards) are regarded as equivalent to "A" level work; grades of "M" (Meets Project Standards) are regarded as equivalent to "B" or "C" level work; grades of "DN" (Does Not Meet Project Standards) are regarded as equivalent to "D" or "F" level work. Grades of "EX" and "M" will be counted as credit hours completed while grades of "DN" will not be counted as credit hours completed.
Grade Reports Special Note
The following will not be counted as credit hours completed:
Enrollment Status for Student Financial Aid Funds
Full-time graduate student status is defined as seven (7) or more credit hours per semester. Half-time graduate student status is between four (4) credit hours and five (5) credit hours. Graduate students must be enrolled at a half-time status to be eligible for federal student loans. Financial aid may be adjusted based on enrollment status.
Retaking Courses and Student Financial Aid
Retaken coursework may count toward enrollment status and federal financial aid eligibility for a student who is repeating, for the first time only, a previously passed course. This retaken class may be counted toward a student's enrollment status and the student may be awarded Title IV aid for the enrollment status based on inclusion of the class. A student may be paid for repeatedly failing the same course as long as satisfactory academic progress requirements are met.
After becoming ineligible for student financial aid funds, a student can be considered for receipt of financial aid only when the completion percentage and grade point average requirements have been met.
On an annual basis at the end of Spring Term, the Financial Aid Office will notify by email any student receiving financial assistance who does not meet the satisfactory progress requirement and has been determined to be ineligible for financial aid. The notice will be addressed to the student’s Westminster College email address.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy/Appeal/Academic Plan
Any student who has been determined to be ineligible for financial aid has the right to appeal. The following appeal process will be utilized:
- The student appealing the satisfactory progress decision will submit a written appeal to the Financial Aid Office. The appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed in their situation that will allow them to make satisfactory academic progress in the future. The Financial Aid Office will give a decision to the student's Westminster email account within five working days of receipt of the appeal.
- If an appeal is granted, the student will develop an Academic Plan with an academic advisor. Once the Academic Plan has been submitted, the student must complete 100% of the coursework outlined in the plan each term. Students who meet the conditions of their academic plan will continue to meet with an academic advisor to develop Academic Plans until satisfactory academic progress requirements have been met. Students who do not meet the conditions outlined in their academic plan will lose all aid eligibility until they meet satisfactory academic progress requirements.
- If the appeal is not approved, and the student wishes to proceed further with the appeal, the student can submit an additional appeal to the Director of Financial Aid. The Director of Financial Aid will give a decision, in writing, within five working days of receipt of the appeal.
Return of Title IV Funds
Federal regulations govern the return of Title IV (federal) financial aid funds that have been disbursed for a student who completely withdraws or does not attend the scheduled classes during a term payment period, or period of enrollment. The Title IV programs included under these regulations for graduate students are: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans. The regulations operate under the principle that a student "earns" financial aid based on the period of time enrolled.
During the first 60% of the enrollment period, a student "earns" Title IV federal financial aid funds in direct proportion to the length of time they remain enrolled (for example, a student attending 45 days, of 102 days in the semester, would earn 44% of their scheduled financial aid). A student who withdraws from college beyond the 60% point has "earned" all Title IV federal financial aid for the period.
Unearned Title IV funds must be returned to the federal financial aid programs. Unearned aid is the amount of disbursed Title IV aid that exceeds the amount of Title IV aid earned under the formula. Returns of unearned Title IV program funds are processed no later than 45 days after the date of the school's determination that the student withdrew.
Repayment of Unearned Title IV Aid
The responsibility to repay unearned Title IV aid is shared by the institution and the student in proportion to the aid each is assumed to possess.
The institution's share is the lesser of:
- the total amount of unearned aid; or
- institutional charges multiplied by the percentage of unearned aid.
The student's share is the difference between the total unearned amount and the institution's share. Westminster College will return the unearned aid for which the school is responsible, by repaying the Department of Education to the following sources, in order, up to the total net amount disbursed from each source.
Title IV Programs Order of Federal Funds Returned:
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
- Direct Grad PLUS Loan
- Federal TEACH Grant
Students withdrawing after the end of the college's refund period are liable for all of their college charges even when their financial aid is decreased. Students considering withdrawal or enrollment below half-time status should call or visit the Financial Aid Office to determine the specific implications. Official withdrawal notifications should be provided to the Registrar's Office. For official withdrawals, a student's date of withdrawal from the withdrawal form is used to determine the amount of aid earned.
In addition, students who do not successfully complete any coursework during a semester will be reviewed to determine whether or not they may have unofficially withdrawn during the course of the semester. Faculty report a last date of attendance for any student receiving a failing grade. That last date of attendance is determined by faculty for academically related activities. Academically related activities include:
- Attending a synchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity, physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students;
- Submitting an academic assignment;
- Taking an assessment or an exam;
- Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction;
- Participating in a study group, group project, or an online discussion that is assigned by the institution; or
- Interacting with an instructor about academic matters; and
Does not include (for example):
- Living in institutional housing;
- Participating in the institution's meal plan;
- Logging into an online class or tutorial without any further participation; or
- Participating in academic counseling or advisement.
That last date of attendance is used to calculate Title IV aid eligibility. If the Financial Aid Office cannot document a student's attendance through 60% or more of the semester, a student is considered to have unofficially withdrawn and the student's federal financial aid will be subject to the Return of Title IV Aid calculation described above. A student found to have unofficially withdrawn will have the calculation performed using the 50% point in the semester unless a last date of attendance can be documented.
Further information about return of federal funds calculations can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office.
Institutional refunds are determined on the date that add/drop or withdrawal forms are completed and processed in the Registrar’s Office. Refer to the appropriate class schedule for the specific refund schedule for each semester. All institutional charges (tuition, fees, and room and board) are refunded based on the tuition refund schedule. Please check the Student Accounts Services webpage for the Tuition Refund Schedule.
Notification of Award– Students submitting applications and other supporting documentation are notified of aid awarded electronically or by mail.
Changes in Financial Status– Students are responsible for reporting any change in family financial resources from extra income, gifts, or outside aid. If the additions reduce the financial need, the award may be reduced. Failure to report additional resources may result in total cancellation of all financial aid. If resources decrease, students may request additional funds.
The college makes every effort to assist students in securing the financial aid they need to be successful in their studies and career goals, based on availability of funds.
Employer Reimbursement– Students receiving reimbursement from their employers who apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are required to notify the Financial Aid Office and submit documentation of the amounts to be received. Employer reimbursement is considered estimated financial aid and financial aid awards may be reduced.
Withdrawal from College– If a student receiving merit-based aid withdraws from the college or is suspended before the end of the semester, the student’s financial aid award is canceled and all unpaid tuition resulting from the cancellation of the merit-based aid for that semester is due and must be paid immediately.
Incoming students are encouraged to apply for financial aid at the time they apply for admission to the college. Continuing students are reminded to reapply for financial aid each academic year. Financial Aid awards are made on a first-come, first-serve basis; therefore, it is in each student’s best interest to submit application materials as early as possible. Regulations and policies for many of the Federal Financial Aid Programs change periodically. For additional information about any type of financial aid, contact the Financial Aid Office.