Parent FAQ

General Questions

Parent Loan


Is it required for parents to fill out the parent portion of the FAFSA, even if they no longer claim their child as a dependent on their Federal taxes?

Federal financial aid guidelines for dependency are different than federal tax guidelines. Federal financial aid guidelines state that a student is dependent unless:

  • The student is 24 years of age or older.
  • The student will be working on a master's or doctorate degree at the beginning of the school year in which they are applying for aid.
  • The student is married as of the date they file the FAFSA.
  • The student has children who receive more than half of their support from the student.
  • The student has dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with the student and who receive more than half their support from the student.
  • Both of the student's parents are deceased or the student is/was a ward of the court until the age of 18.
  • The student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

If the student does not qualify under at least one of these conditions, the student must be considered a dependent. A dependent student must provide their parent's income information on the FAFSA. Only under special circumstances may the student be considered independent without meeting one of the above conditions. [top]

How much is expected of parents to contribute to the cost of their student's education at UC Merced?

The amount expected from the parents depends on the family's ability to pay. An Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated by the Department of Education based on the provided family income information on the FAFSA. The university uses this uniform federal formula to determine how much parents should contribute, taking into account current income, assets, family size, how many family members attend college, how close parents are to retirement and many other important factors.[top]

What if the parent income level decreases after the FAFSA has been submitted?

If parent's income decreases significantly after the FAFSA has been filed or any time during the academic year, a parent may file a Future Year Income form with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS). Federal guidelines allow each university to make adjustments to the EFC based on special circumstances in which a parent may lose a job, receive a pay cut, become disabled, have medical expenses not covered by insurance, become separated or divorced from a spouse, suffer from a natural disaster or any other circumstance that may decrease a parent's annual income. Such special circumstances are reviewed by the OFAS and adjustments to the EFC are made accordingly. For additional information on filing a Future Year Income form, please contact the OFAS at or 209-228-4243.[top]

Are there any financial aid options for parents?

There are financial aid options for parents. Parents should not feel discouraged from helping to pay for their child's cost of attendance at UC Merced. It is understood that often parents do not have spare funds that they can use to pay for their student's tuition or additional expenses. For this reason, the federal government has made the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) available to parents who qualify. This educational loan may be used by the parent to pay for all or a portion of their student's cost of attendance. [top]

What is the PLUS Loan?

The PLUS Loan is designed for parents who wish to use an educational loan to cover all or a portion of their student's college expenses. The PLUS Loan program is a federal program that offers parents a low interest loan with repayments beginning while the student is in school. This loan is in the parent's name and repayment must be made by the parent. [top]

Is the parent required to borrow a PLUS Loan?

No. A PLUS Loan is an option a parent may choose to apply for and borrow. At no time is a parent required to borrow a PLUS Loan. [top]

Who is eligible for a PLUS Loan?

PLUS Loans are available to natural or adoptive parents, stepparents, or legal guardians of dependent students. Parents/legal guardians must be U.S. citizens or eligible residents. UC Merced requires the FAFSA application to be completed and processed before PLUS Loan eligibility can be determined. [top]

How much can a parent borrow?

Parents may borrow up to the full cost of their dependent student's education, less any additional aid the student may receive. [top]

Is there a credit requirement for the PLUS Loan?

The credit requirements for the PLUS Loan program are substantially more flexible than credit requirements under non-federally guaranteed programs. If the parent does not meet the credit requirements, the parent may still receive the loan if he or she obtains an endorser (cosigner) who does meet the minimum credit requirements. Please note that UC merced is not involved in the credit decision. [top]

When does PLUS Loan repayment begin?

Generally, repayment begins within 60 to 90 days after the last disbursement of the loan. The standard repayment term is 10 years. If necessary, the repayment of PLUS principal and interest can be deferred. [top]

How does a parent apply for a PLUS Loan?

Information regarding the application process will be available in June. Contact our office if you have any questions. [top]