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Parent Guide

It can be challenging for students and parents to navigate the financial management process of college. We are here to assist where we can.

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Phone: (209) 228-7178
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Due to federal regulations, our office sends all notifications, statements, and refunds to the student and in the student’s name. Learn how you can access your student’s information with their permission in the “Communicating With Us” section below.

Financing an Education

The prospect of applying for financial aid can seem intimidating—especially the first time. But the financial aid process is not as difficult as you think. All it takes is time, a little organization—and some paperwork and online forms.

How Financial Aid is Calculated
The “magic number” of the financial aid process is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount of money you and your student are expected to contribute to paying for college. The EFC is based on the income and other financial assets of you and your college-bound student as reported on their financial aid application. Every student should complete a financial aid application, even if they feel that they won’t qualify. This information is required as consideration for scholarships and appeals. See more about financial aid applications in the “Applying for Financial Aid” section below.

We use the EFC and our Cost of Attendance to determine your student's financial need. Financial need in this context is the difference between the Cost of Attendance and an applicant's EFC.

For an estimate of how much aid your student might receive at UC Merced, visit our Financial Aid Estimator!

Special Circumstances
UC Merced does not negotiate financial aid awards in response to offers from other schools. However, we will consider a change to the family contribution. If your circumstances have changed since you completed the FAFSA or the CADAA, let us know about any changes by submitting an Appeal Form for Special Circumstances.

Applying for Financial Aid

If your student is a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, they apply for financial aid every year by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).The priority filing deadline for completing the FAFSA is March 2nd every year (for the following year). If you miss the deadline, they should still complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. You can help your student keep track of this filing deadline by marking your calendar each year and working with them to start this process beginning on October 1st when the application opens. Visit our How to Apply link for more information.

If your student attended high school in California and is not eligible to submit a FAFSA, they may be eligible to submit a California Dream Act Application (CADAA) by the March 2nd Priority filing deadline. Visit the California Student Aid Commission website for more information about the California Dream Act Application.

California Residents
Visit the California Student Aid Commission website for information on applying for Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship funds.

Non-California Residents
Students who are not residents of California face special challenges in finding enough financial resources to attend UC Merced. To find out about the residency rules and resources, visit the Registrar's residency web page.

Communicating with us

UC Merced Connect Portal
Students who have been admitted to UC Merced should frequently log into their UC Merced Connect portal to access email coming to their UC Merced email address, their MyBill account, and their Student Checklist. Their Student Checklist lists specific items that they need to submit to complete enrollment and financial aid processes. We encourage you and your student to review this information together to be fully informed about the financial aid offer and any necessary requirements and deadlines. 

We communicate directly with your student via email using the email address reported on the financial aid application until your student registers for their first semester at UC Merced.  After your student registers for their first semester at UC Merced, email communications will be sent directly to your student’s UC Merced email address. It is critical that your student check their email on a regular basis to keep up with important information, requirements and deadlines. Your student can email us for assistance with their financial aid questions.

By Phone
Financial Aid Advisors are available to meet with students over the phone via the Students First Center.

Communicating with Parents
Financial aid information cannot be released to parent without students’ consent per the
Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Your student may authorize release of financial aid information to you by completing the “Student Authorization for Sharing Information” on the UC Merced Connect portal, under My Financial Aid. The authorization will only apply to the parent(s) whose information is reported on the financial aid application. Authorization will allow you to have access to email, phone and in person assistance with questions you may have about your student’s financial aid.

Reviewing Your Award Letter
Our office begins sending award letters to entering applicants (first-year and transfer students) in March. Applicants are notified on a rolling basis, as our receives their financial aid application. We encourage you to apply early and respond to requests for additional documentation in order to ensure that your aid is ready to disburse prior to the free payment deadline.  You can learn how to review your student’s award letter here


Some students who have submitted a financial aid application have been selected for a process called Verification. Verification is the confirmation through documentation that the information provided on a student's FAFSA is correct. 

Students are required to submit specific documentation to our office. Required documentation is listed on the Student Checklist in their UC Merced Connect portal. All required documentation should be submitted to our office by the June 1st deadline. It is critical that your student check their Student Checklist, and email on a regular basis to keep up with important information, requirements and deadlines.

Direct Costs

You’ve evaluated our Cost of Attendance and your award package. How do those translate into what your family will actually pay to attend UC Merced? Direct Costs are costs paid directly to the university through your student’s UC Merced student account. These vary depending on choices you make when you attend UC Merced. 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 university health insurance (UC SHIP). To learn more about direct costs and to try our Direct Costs Worksheet, visit our Direct Costs page.

Student Health Insurance

The university requires all students to have major medical insurance and provides the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) to meet this requirement. All registered UC Merced students are automatically enrolled in the UC SHIP unless they are already covered by a health valid insurance plan. If so, your student can waive out of UC SHIP. Students must submit a waiver by the deadline in order for it not to be charged to their student account.


Parent Loans
Loans are typically a part of students’ financial aid award here at UC Merced. Sometimes, parents can borrow on behalf of their student to help cover the cost of attending UC Merced in the form of a Parent PLUS Loan. Parents must apply for the loan (with their FSA ID) and complete a Master Promissory Note in order for the loan to be disbursed.

Alternative Loan Programs
Some families borrow alternative loans (sometimes referred to as private loans) when their student is not eligible for financial aid or your student needs to borrow additional funds to meet educational expenses. You can more about these loans here.

Student Account & Disbursement

Once your student completes all necessary requirements for receiving their financial aid awards, the awards are disbursed to their student account or MyBill ten days before instruction begins. Any difference between charges on their student account and the aid they receive will either result in a refund or a balance owed. Learn how to gain access to your student’s MyBill on the Student Billing & Cashiering Services.

For more information about fee payment deadlines, your student’s MyBill, and other billing inquiries, please visit the Student Billing & Cashiering Services.

Deferred Payment Plan
If you’d like to split the remaining balance on your student’s account into smaller payments, you can enroll in the Deferred Payment Program.

Tax Information

The 1098-T is a tuition statement that is reported to the IRS. You can use this statement to report tuition paid on your taxes.

Tax Breaks for Higher Education
To learn more about higher education tax breaks, click here.

Visit our calendar for important dates, deadlines, and events!