9.12 Government Loans

9.12 Government Loans


print this page

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

  • 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. 


The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (FSUL) is not need-based and has an interest rate of 5.41% and a 1.051% loan fee. 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 (student and loan), 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 6.41% which is paid by the student, and a 4.204% loan fee. 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 unsubsidized and GradPLUS loans plus other financial aid 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 of $26,000 for an M.Div. 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 M.Div. or $20,000 for other masters or Th.M. degrees will be emailed a “Notice of Student Debt Management” about loan repayment or 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.

9.12.A ACADEMIC YEAR DEFINITION

Westminster’s academic year is defined as a minimum of two Periods of Enrollment (POEs), comprised of the fall and spring semesters, both typically 15 weeks in 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.

9.12.B PERIODS OF ENROLLMENT

A student’s loan period, or Period of Enrollment (POE), is the term, semester, or academic year in which the student is registered. POE dates begin with the first day of classes (as specified in the Academic Calendar, which may or may not coincide with 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)
9.12.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 Section 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 another special circumstance, a letter of appeal may be submitted to the Financial Aid Office requesting funds for an additional semester. If the appeal is approved, the student will be permitted to receive loan funds for one probationary semester in order to reestablish compliance with SAP requirements. If the student does not achieve SAP compliance after completing the probationary semester, he or she will be ineligible for future loan disbursements.

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


POE

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 
  combined)
 12 cr.   6 cr.   3 courses or 1st 
  semester after 
  coursework 
  completed 
  through second 
  year in program
  2 courses or third 
  year through sixth year in program
  3 courses or 1st 
  semester after 
  coursework 
  completed 
  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

9.12.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.
  • 2012 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 (MPN) for Direct 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.

9.12.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
Deadline 
Semester/Term
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.

9.12.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. 

9.12.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 adjusted because of the change in his or her cost of attendance.
  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): The 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:
    • An 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 as follows:
    • 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.
9.12.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 rather 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 59th 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