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Undergraduate Admissions

Your Financial Award

The value of the merit award, quoted in your award letter, is based on the academic year for undergraduate study only. Depending on your plan of study, four-year or two-year program, the merit award is good for up to four years (eight consecutive semesters) of full-time enrollment (12 or more credits per semester) or two years (four consecutive semesters) of full-time enrollment (12 or more credits per semester).

For example, if your merit award is $10,000 and you are enrolled in a full four-year (eight semesters) program, the total value of the merit award is $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years). Similarly, if your merit award is $10,000 and you are enrolled in a two-year (four semesters) program, the total value of the award is $20,000 ($10,000 per year for two years).

The merit award is applied as a credit toward your university bill. Half of the merit award is applied in the fall semester, and the other half applies to the spring semester. Therefore, if your merit award is $10,000, you will see a $5,000 credit on the fall semester bill and a $5,000 credit again on the spring bill.

No, the merit award is only applied toward your university bill, half in the fall and half in the spring, while you are enrolled as an undergraduate student.

The merit award is renewed automatically, as long as you maintain the minimum requirements of satisfactory academic progress. The minimum requirements of satisfactory academic progress can be found in the Academic Regulations available on the University Registrar website.

The standard undergraduate four-year college academic year is the fall and spring semesters. The merit award is for eight consecutive fall and spring semesters because that is the standard expectation for completion of your college coursework and degree. We have found that to be the most efficient and effective way for students to complete their program of study. Often, when students are away from their coursework for a semester they find it difficult to return or they struggle when they do return. Among other challenges, being away for a semester can put you out of sequence for some of your coursework, which can increase the amount of time it takes you to complete your program.

Sometimes a graduating senior (in their final semester) does not need to attend full time (12 or more credits) to graduate. In these cases the merit award will be adjusted (prorated based on number of credits) to recognize the part-time enrollment status. For all other students, the merit award requires full-time enrollment (12 or more credits per semester).

Federal immigration regulations severely limit international students with visas to be enrolled less than full time, but it may be allowed in some circumstances. If you find yourself in this position, please contact the International Programs Office

We strongly discourage students from missing a semester, however we understand that there may be extenuating circumstances when you may need to do so. This includes students with medical issues, students that are called to active duty, and those needing to withdraw from the university after the semester has begun. If you find yourself in this position, please contact Financial Aid Services

No, as long as you contact Financial Aid Services prior to leaving campus and enroll in an approved academic program you will be eligible to continue to receive your merit award.

No, the merit award is only available for fall and spring semesters.

As a public university, the UMass Amherst cost of attendance is lower for residents of Massachusetts and higher for nonresidents. This is typical at all state universities. The merit award for nonresidents is designed to help academically qualified nonresidents meet the cost of attendance. If you change your residency status from nonresident to resident, the merit award will be eliminated because your cost of attendance would be reduced with the residency change. It should be noted that this isn’t likely to be an issue since it is extremely rare for students to be able to change their residency status once they have been admitted.

UMass Amherst participates in the New England Board of Higher Education’s Tuition Break program, which is known as the New England Regional Student Program (RSP). Besides Massachusetts, the states that are part of the program are Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This program enables New England residents to enroll at out‐of‐state New England public colleges and universities at a discount. Students from the aforementioned states are eligible for the RSP tuition break when they enroll in an approved major that is not offered by the public colleges and universities in their home state.

Students cannot obtain both the RSP discount and a merit award , but in this unique situation will be assured of receiving the greater of the two, which is always the award . For example, this year's RSP discount is $6,937 per academic year. If your merit award is $10,000 you will be receiving an additional $3,063 per year by taking the award. More details on the RSP are available at:

No, changing your major will not affect your merit award.

Students are given one semester to improve their academic performance. At the end of this semester the student is expected to be maintaining the minimum requirements of academic progress to continue to receive their merit award. 

You can contact a Financial Aid staff member either by phone at 413-545-0801 or by email: