Financial Aid for Graduate Students

Scholarship opportunities are available for graduate students at Merrimack College through the graduate admission process.

FAFSA: Graduate students seeking federal financial aid should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at A FAFSA is required for those who wish to borrow under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and/or Federal Graduate PLUS Loan program.  Please be sure to add the Merrimack College Federal School Code 002120. 

To ensure efficient processing, please complete your FAFSA prior to the start of the fall semester. Please be sure to add Merrimack’s school code, 002120, to ensure your FAFSA is received. 

Enrollment: You must be accepted as a degree-seeking candidate in order to be considered for financial aid. For direct unsubsidized and graduate PLUS loans, you must enroll at least half-time (four credits for graduate students).

Eligibility: An award offer will be generated for students who have completed the FAFSA and are enrolled in a degree-seeking program. Graduate students enrolled at least half-time (a minimum of four credits per semester) may qualify for federal financial aid in the form of a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan, Federal Graduate PLUS Loan, or Alternative Loan

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Graduate students are eligible to borrow a maximum of $20,500 per academic year, or up to their yearly financial aid cost of attendance, minus any other aid received. For the 2020-21 academic year, Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate students carry a fixed interest rate of 4.30% and an origination fee of 1.059%, for loans disbursed prior to October 1, 2020; and 1.057% after October 1, 2020.  

Federal Graduate PLUS Loan: Graduate students are eligible to apply for this credit-based loan up to a maximum of their yearly financial aid cost of attendance, minus the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan awarded, and any other aid received. For the 2020-21 academic year, Graduate PLUS Loans carry a fixed interest rate of 5.30% and an origination fee of 4.236%, for loans disbursed prior to October 1, 2020; and 4.228% after October 1, 2020.  

Repayment: Repayment is not required to begin until after a student falls below half-time status, withdraws, or graduates. 

Requirements: New and first-time borrowers at Merrimack College will need to complete federal loan entrance counseling and electronically sign their master promissory note via before loan funds can be disbursed.

Disbursement: All loan funds are disbursed at the end of the add/drop course period each semester. Any expected refund can be applied for after the date of the actual disbursement. 

If you have any questions on the application process or your eligibility, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at 978-837-5186.

Graduate Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Federal regulations require that Merrimack College measure a student’s progress towards the completion of their degree program, which is called Satisfactory Academic Progress. The standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress apply to all Title IV, state, and some institutional funding.  You must meet both the qualitative and quantitative standards below.

Qualitative Standards: Satisfactory academic progress requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better by the end of each semester.

Quantitative Standards:  Students must successfully earn 50% of their cumulative attempted credits. In addition, you will not be eligible to receive federal financial aid once you have attempted more than 150% of the normal credits required for your degree. For full-time students this means the student must complete their degree within 1.5 years. For instance, if your degree requires 30 credit hours, you may not attempt more than 45 credits to achieve this degree. 


  • All transfer, summer, and winter credits are calculated toward the satisfactory academic progress standard whether taken at Merrimack College or any other institution. 
  • Grades of F, W (including medical), unofficial withdrawal or N are considered attempted, but not earned credits.
  • Students can repeat courses as many times as required to pass the course. However, if a student wishes to repeat a course to improve their grade, they can only receive aid for courses repeated one time.

Review of Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress for federal and state financial aid will be reviewed for graduate students at the end of each semester. If the cumulative grade point average falls below the minimum standard and/or the student falls behind in earned credits, the student will be notified by the Office of Financial Aid, and may appeal in writing by completing the required process below. Once the appeal is received, the Office of Financial Aid will notify student of future eligibility.

Note: The review of Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid purposes is based on a student’s entire graduate record, even if the student did not receive financial aid during previous semesters of enrollment. This includes all prior coursework (including remedial courses) taken at Merrimack as a non-matriculated student.

These courses will be calculated as part of the qualitative and quantitative calculations. If a student is placed on suspension, and wishes to appeal, they may provide documentation of coursework that is not applicable to their degree program, or is a result of changing their major, and these courses may be excluded from the SAP calculation.


Graduate students who do not meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for financial aid will be placed in a Warning status for one semester. Students are eligible to receive financial aid during their Warning term. Students who do not meet minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards at the end of their Warning term will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension.


After a term on Financial Aid Warning, students who fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress, as described above, will lose all eligibility for federal financial aid. Students will be notified in writing by the Office of Financial Aid if they have lost eligibility.


Students who do not meet the minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for financial aid have the opportunity to appeal when special circumstances exist. Conditions when a student may appeal include death of a relative, injury or illness of the student or other extenuating circumstances.

In order to appeal, a student must submit a completed Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal form, including personal statement and supporting documentation. In addition, the student must meet with The Center for Academic Enrichment or their Dean’s Office to develop an academic plan, outlining the steps required to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards.

If a student’s appeal is approved, they will be placed on financial aid probation, and will continue to receive financial aid while on probation. At the end of this probation period, the student’s academic record will be reviewed to evaluate progress and determine continued eligibility. 

Denied appeals will result in the student being ineligible for financial aid until minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress standards are met.

Appeals will be granted only one time during your enrollment at Merrimack.

After an appeal is granted, if the student fails to meet the terms outlined in their academic plan, they will become ineligible for financial aid until the minimum standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress are met. All courses, including summer and transfer courses, are calculated toward Satisfactory Academic Progress whether they are taken at Merrimack College or any other institution.

Re-establishing Financial Aid Eligibility

A student may regain financial aid eligibility by successfully meeting the college’s SAP policy requirements or successfully meeting the requirements of an established academic plan.

Opportunities for International Graduate Students

International applicants may be eligible for scholarships, depending on the strength of their application and the graduate program for which they are applying. In addition, some graduate programs offer graduate fellowship options, which help to absorb the cost of tuition. International students are not eligible for federal financial aid, but have the option of obtaining private loans and/or enrolling in an institutional payment plan.