The UC Merced Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS) begins sending award notifications to all students in March. Applicants are notified on a rolling basis as the OFAS receives their financial aid application and students are admitted to the University. We reserve the right to modify financial aid awards at any time due to changes on your financial aid application, in your financial eligibility, in program terms, in the amount of available funding, and/or due to coordination with other resources you receive.
Paper award letters are sent to first-time applicants’ home addresses. Each and every communication from that point forward will be done through email. We will use the email address you submitted on your financial aid application until you register for courses and then we will use your UC Merced email address.
If the OFAS requests that you submit additional documents, we must receive them by the deadline indicated on your checklist in order to consider you for all aid programs, including institutional aid. If you do not submit the requested documents, we will not be able to process your financial aid application and financial aid will not be disbursed to your UC Merced student account (grants, loans and institutional grants/scholarships).
Rights and Responsibilities of Accepting Financial Aid
Accepting financial aid entails certain rights and responsibilities. When you are awarded financial aid, it is critical that you read and understand the "Award Terms and Conditions" listed in MyChecklist each academic year. We strongly encourage you to learn as much as you can about the aid you are accepting and to know in advance what is expected of you in terms of your enrollment and academic progress.
Your Award Letter Explained
Below is a description of the sections on the second page of your award letter. Be sure to read both pages for additional information about your financial aid.
- Gift Aid — Grant and scholarship money. These are awards that do not have to be repaid or earned through work.
- Self Help Aid — Aid such as loans and federal work study. Loans and federal work study are always optional and are only offered to you to assist in meeting your costs. If you wish to borrow a loan, you must accept it and complete a Master Promissory Note and loan Entrance counseling. All this information is available on our website under "Types of Aid (Loans)." If you wish to accept your federal work study, you must go online to your MyFinancialAid and accept your award. For more information, visit our Federal Work Study page.
- Refers to the housing status you indicated on your FAFSA. Your cost of attendance budget is based on your housing status. If this information changes, your awards may change as well.
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC) — This amount is calculated based on the information you submitted on your financial aid application and takes into account things such as income, assets, the number of persons in the household and the number attending college for the award year. The EFC amount is not an actual amount that you (or your parents) have to pay, but it is an approximation of how much your family should reasonably be able to contribute towards your educational expenses during the academic year.
- Cost of Attendance (COA) — An estimate including all expenses to attend the university for one year, not just expenses paid directly to UC Merced. The COA includes average tuition/fees, books and supplies, room and board, personal expenses, transportation expenses and a health insurance allowance and varies depending on whether you live on campus, off campus or at home with relatives. Your actual expenses may be different and most items are not paid directly to the university. The only COA items paid directly to the university are tuition/fees, on-campus room and board if you choose to live on campus, and undergraduate health insurance is you are required to take the University's health insurance.
- Estimated Direct Costs — Direct costs are those costs paid directly to the university and billed through your UC Merced student account. Direct costs are different from the estimated cost of attendance (COA). The COA is an estimate of expenses and includes items not paid directly to the university. Direct costs only include things paid directly to the University. Your actual direct costs will vary depending on things such as whether you attend full or part-time, live on or off campus, purchase University health insurance, etc. To make it easier to determine your direct costs, we've created the Undergraduate Direct Costs Worksheet.