8.5 Financial Aid
8.5.1 Scholarships -
General Information
8.5.2 Scholarships for US
and Canadian students
8.5.3 Scholarships for
International Students
8.5.4Scholarships for
Students in Advanced Degree
8.5.5 Spouse Scholarship
8.5.6 Special and "Named"
8.5.7 Scholarship
Application Submission
8.5.8 Scholarship Funds
8.5.9 Fellowships
8.5.10 Prizes
8.5.11 GI Bill Benefits
8.5.12 Government Loans
8.5.13 Alternative
Education Loans

8.5.12 Government Loans

The Seminary is approved to participate in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP), which is part of the Federal Title IV program, in administering:

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Graduate PLUS Loans

The direct loan program is funded and insured by the federal government. The Seminary is also approved to participate in the Canada Student Loans Program. This program provides federally insured loans to students via private banks and is administered by the various Canadian provinces.

A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan (FDSL) will not be available for graduate students in the 2012-13 academic year, due to the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (FSUL) is not need-based and has an interest rate of 6.8% and 1% loan fees. It is available to students who may request up to the smaller of $20,500 or the Cost of Attendance (COA) determined by the sum of living expenses, tuition, fees, and books. The interest due on an unsubsidized loan is paid by the student.

The Graduate PLUS Loan is not need-based and has an interest rate of 7.9% (which is paid by the student) and 4% loan fees. It is available to students with good credit history who want to borrow funds in excess of their total unsubsidized loan eligibility. The combined total of subsidized and unsubsidized and GradPLUS loans per academic year cannot exceed the student’s COA. For further information on this loan, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Recommended Loan Limits: Current and prospective students considering loans to finance their Westminster education are advised not to exceed a total student loan (combined undergraduate and graduate) indebtedness in excess $26,000 for an MDiv degree and $20,000 for other Master’s degrees.  Students requesting loans which will result in them exceeding a total loan debt level of $26,000 for an MDiv or $20,000 for other Masters or ThM degrees will be required to meet with the Financial Aid Officer for debt counseling. To determine repayment amounts see How much of a loan can I afford.

8.5.12.a Academic Year Definition

Westminster’s academic year is defined as a minimum of two Periods of Enrollment (POEs),comprised of a Fall and Spring semester, both typically of 15 weeks' duration, for a total minimum of 30 weeks. During the academic year so defined, a full-time student is expected to complete a minimum of 24 credits. If for any reason the academic year is less than 30 weeks and the Seminary can show good cause for the reduction, the Seminary must file for a waiver from the Secretary of Education. In no case will the academic year be less than 28 weeks in duration. The academic year can also include other POEs as defined below.

8.5.12.b Periods of Enrollment

A student’s loan period, or Period of Enrollment (POE), is the term, semester, or academic year dates in which the student is registered.  POE dates begin with the first day of classes (as specified in the Academic Calendar) not the first day of individual courses, and end with the last day of the exam period. The minimum POE is a single module and the maximum POE is twelve months. If the POE begins with a term or semester comprised of modules (see POE Definitions section below), the POE start date will be the first day of the term/semester which coincides with the beginning of the first module; however, only the module(s) for which the student is registered and attending will be used for COA calculations.

POE Definitions Used for the Purposes of Determining Loan Limits:
Summer term:

  • Module 1: 12 to 13 weeks (3 months), from the beginning of June through the end of August
  • Module 2 (“June” Module): 4 weeks (1 month) during the month of June
  • Module 3 (“July” Module): 4 weeks (1 month) during the month of July
  • Module 4 (“August" Module): 4 weeks (1 month) during the month of August

Fall Semester: 15 weeks (4 months)
Spring Semester:

  • Module 1 (“Winter” module): 4 weeks (1 month) during the month of January
  • Module 2 (“Spring” module): 15 weeks (4 months)
8.5.12.c Student Eligibility

In order to be eligible for an FDSLP loan, a student must:

  1. be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  2. be enrolled at least half-time (per the Enrollment Status by Program table below in sectin 8.4) in one of the following degree programs: M.Div., M.A.R., M.A.C./M.A.U.M., Th.M., and Ph.D.  (D.Min. and Certificate students are not eligible to apply for Federal loans. See section 6.10.4.)
  3. maintain the following Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements:
       a. Qualitative: Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA):
             Program Minimum Cumulative GPA
             M.Div., M.A.R., and M.A.C./M.A.U.M.: 1.80 after attempting 24 credit hours or completion of two
                       semesters (whichever comes first).
             Th.M. - 3.00 (after completing 3 courses)
             Ph.D.  - 3.00 (after completing 3 courses)
       b. Quantitative (M.Div., M.A.R., and M.A.C./M.A.U.M.): after attempting 24 credit hours or completion of
              two semesters (whichever comes first), a credit completion rate greater than or equal to 75%.

If the student does not meet these standards due to the student having undergone undue hardship because of the death of a relative of the student, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances as determined by the Director of Financial Aid, Westminster may waive these eligibility requirements.

Enrollment Status by Program
(Number of credits and courses shown are minimum required)


M.Div., M.A.R., M.A.C., M.A.U.M. Th.M. Ph.D.
  FT   HT   FT   HT   FT   HT
  Summer Module 1
("June" - "August")
  9 cr.   5 cr.   N/A   N/A   N/A   N/A
  Summer Module
  2 ("June")
  3 ("July")
  4 ("August")
  3 cr.   2 cr.   N/A   N/A   N/A   N/A
  Fall Semester &
  Spring Semester
  (Modules 1 & 2
 12 cr.   6 cr.   3 courses or 1st
  semester after
  through second
  year in program
  2 courses or third
  year through sixth
  year in program
  3 courses or 1st
  semester after
  through sixth year
  in program
  2 courses or
  seventh year
  through eighth
  year in program

   Chart Abbreviations: cr = credits; FT = Full-time; HT = Half-time; prog = program; sem = semesters; yr = year

8.5.12.d Loan Application Procedure

To apply for a student loan, students must submit the following loan application materials (available via the Financial Aid webpages):

  • Westminster Financial Aid Application for U.S. and Canadian Students
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (submit online) Note to tax-filers: An application will not be processed unless the student’s FAFSA indicates that the tax return was already completed.
  • Verification Worksheet form
  • 2011 Tax Return information: Electronically transfer to the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (preferred) or provide a Tax Transcript (available from www.irs.gov)
  • Non-tax filers: complete the Non-Tax Filer Worksheet.

Students borrowing through Westminster for the first-time must also submit online (available through www.studentloans.gov) the following:

  • Master Promissory Note for Direct Unsubsidized and Unsubsidized Loans or Master Promissory Note for Graduate PLUS loans
  • Loan Entrance Counseling for graduate students
  • Complete a “one-on-one” initial interview with a Financial Aid Office staff member.

It is critical that all application materials be completed and submitted as early as possible to ensure processing for timely disbursement.

8.5.12.e Application Deadlines

If a student plans to pay for his or her tuition and fees with an FDSLP loan, the loan must be originated before the enrollment date (first day of classes). Since, under normal circumstances, the loan process can take a minimum of four weeks after receipt of all application materials before the loan is originated, a student must submit all loan application materials according to the following deadline schedule:

Loan Application Submission Deadlines
April 15 Summer Modules 1, 2
May 30 Summer Modules 3, 4
June 30 Fall Semester
November 30 Spring Semester (Winter & Spring modules combined)

**The student is responsible for paying all tuition and fees when payment is due, regardless of the status of the student’s loan.** Failure to submit completed loan application materials by the above deadline(s) may result in delayed enrollment or payment through another means.

8.5.12.F Loan Disbursement Dates

Unless a loan application is certified on a date past the halfway point of the POE, there must be multiple disbursements. The second disbursement should occur no sooner than after one-half of the POE has lapsed, unless the student’s second semester within the POE begins earlier. In that situation the second disbursement date may be up to 30 days before the beginning of the student’s second semester. If the loan application is certified beyond the halfway point of the POE, a single disbursement may be requested.

8.5.12.G Changes in Student Eligibility Status

If a student is currently receiving an FDSLP loan or has received a FFELP or FDSLP loan through Westminster in prior academic years, the following procedures apply:

  1. If a student drops or withdraws from a course: this may result in a change in eligibility, in which case his or her loan funds may be reallocated (unsubsidized vs. subsidized) because of the change in his or her total need.
  2. If the student wishes to withdraw from all or some of his or her courses: the student should notify the Registrar’s Office and the Financial Aid Office in writing of the change in enrollment status.
  3. If the student is considering taking a leave of absence (LOA): student should first contact the Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid Office for guidance. In addition, the student should be aware of what constitutes an approved Title IV LOA:
        •    A LOA is limited to 180 days in any 12-month period.
        •    Upon return, the student must be able to complete coursework begun prior to the LOA. This means that
             the student must be able to return at the exact point in the program where the student interrupted his or
             her coursework or training.
        •    If a student fails to return from a LOA, the starting date of the grace period for repayment of loans is the
             start date of the LOA.
  4. If the student graduates, ceases to be enrolled at least half-time (see Enrollment Chart) or withdraws completely: the student must complete the online Loan Exit Counseling (accessible through www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA). Deadlines to complete Loan Exit Counseling are:
        •    For graduating student: the Monday of the last week of spring semester classes
        •    For withdrawing student: within two weeks of student’s withdrawal date
        •    For student enrolled less than half time: within two weeks of status as less than half-time
        •    For student who withdraws without notifying the Registrar’s Office: the last date of recorded class 
             attendance will be used as the withdrawal date.
        •    For Leave of Absence (LOA) student: within two weeks of student’s LOA date
8.5.12.H Return of Title IV Funds

The Financial Aid Office will return loan proceeds for all FDSLP students who drop or withdraw from all courses or who take a leave of absence or are administratively withdrawn prior to completing 60 percent of a semester. More information can be found in the Student Aid Handbook at www.IFAP.ed.gov. Federal regulations are not related to the Seminary’s charge adjustments, but to the adjustments of funds received through FDSLP.

When FDSLP financial aid is returned, the student may owe a balance to Westminster.

If a student withdraws after the 59 percent point in the semester or term, no adjustments will be made to his or her FDSLP loan. He or she is considered to have earned 100 percent of this aid.
Federal regulations require the Seminary to return unearned aid to the lender in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
  2. Graduate Plus Loan

Under the federal refund calculation regulations, all fees must be refunded to the Federal Title IV program, even those specified in the catalog as “non-refundable.” The following schedule is applicable to all terms:

Federal Refund Calculation

Percent of POE Completed                      Percent of Refund
Before the first day of classes..................100%
1% to 10% .........................................90% to 99%
11% to 20% .......................................80% to 89%
21% to 30% .......................................70% to 79%
31% to 40% .......................................60% to 69%
41% to 50% .......................................50% to 59%
51% to 59% .......................................40% to 49%
60% or more ................................................ none