Paying for School
Costs of Your Program
The specific costs of paying for your education will depend on the program you are interested in and the University of Wisconsin System institution through which your program is offered and your degree will be granted. Regardless, financial aid may be available to assist you in paying for your education.
What Is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money that may be available to assist you with the costs of attending college. There are four forms of financial aid:
- GRANTS are awarded on the basis of financial need and do not require repayment.
- SCHOLARSHIPS are awarded on the basis of the applicant's academic achievement or other criteria; financial need is sometimes taken into account. Scholarships do not require repayment. Some campuses offer special scholarships for adult students. Ask your financial aid adviser for more information.
- LOANS must be repaid. However, repayment does not begin until after a student is no longer enrolled for at least half time (6 credits).
- WORK STUDY is a program that facilitates student employment. Jobs are primarily on campus, but may be off-campus community services positions.
Where Does Financial Aid Come From?
The U.S. Department of Education is the source of federal financial aid. It publishes Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid, which gives an overview of the various programs at the federal level. The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board oversees administration of state programs (http://heab.state.wi.us/). Scholarships are available for returning adult students from various sources. Campus foundations, local businesses, and other sources may provide scholarships.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
To apply for aid you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available at www.fafsa.gov.
Complete the FAFSA (or the Renewal FAFSA, if applicable) as soon as possible after January 1 for the next academic year.
Your school may require you to submit additional forms to the financial aid office. Check your school email regularly and respond to any requests for information right away. Visit the website for the financial aid office at the school you are attending to get more information on specific processes and timelines.
The University of Wisconsin institution that offers the degree program will award aid to eligible students enrolled in that program. Be sure to find out the college's financial aid application priority date so you'll know by what date you'll need to apply. Financial aid application priority dates differ by individual campus, but are generally in March or April.
For details about financial aid options available for certain degree programs or course offerings, contact the University of Wisconsin institution(s) that offers the programs in which you're interested. You can find contact information for all financial aid offices within the UW System at heab.state.wi.us/appinfo.html.
What Happens Next?
About a week after you submit the FAFSA, you will receive an email with a Student Aid Report (SAR). If a valid email address is not provided, a hard copy of the report will be mailed to you. Review the SAR for any mistakes and/or data not entered correctly. Return to www.fafsa.gov to make any necessary corrections as soon as possible.
Beginning in spring, watch for an award letter sent to you from the financial aid office. Some schools may send this information by email, so be sure to check your school email address regularly. The award letter will provide specific details on your financial aid package. The financial aid package you receive will be for one academic year and will list each source of aid and the amount of the award. It is your responsibility to read and understand all the information provided. Contact the financial aid office at your school with any questions.