For the latest Financial and Financial Aid Information, as well as current advising hours, please visit uwm.edu/financialaid/.
Department of Financial Aid, Student Employment, and
Military Education Benefits
Mellencamp Hall, Room 162
Attending college is one of the most exciting and challenging times of your life. College tuition could be one of the largest expenditures you ever make—but also one of your best investments. The typical bachelor's degree recipient can expect to earn about 66% more during a 40-year working life than a high school graduate. Most students (and their families) will need to use a combination of tools to help finance their higher education. Our staff can help take the challenge out of financing a college education. Information is provided here and on our website to help you formulate a financing plan. We are confident you will find UWM very affordable as you compare your out-of-pocket costs with other colleges.
Before you can create a financing plan, you need to know how much money you will need. Unfortunately, tuition costs are often not available until mid- to late summer. However, you can look at the prior semester/year's costs and use them as an estimate. In fact, the budgets used by the Financial Aid Department are all based on estimates. If increases in expenses are anticipated, those are built into the estimates each year. You are encouraged to become familiar with the Bursar Office website (www.bursar.uwm.edu), which contains detailed information on costs and how to pay your bill.
You can review University Housing cost and meal plan information on the University Housing website, www.uwm.edu/housing.
The Financial Aid Department develops an "Estimated Cost of Attendance" that is kept on our website and itemizes allowable costs that will be used in determining your budget if you apply for financial aid. These numbers include direct costs (those due the University) and indirect costs you may incur and are used in determining your eligibility for financial aid. Even if you don’t apply for financial aid, you may find the numbers useful as a starting point in determining your own individual budget. For 2015-16, the estimated direct costs for a dependent student living on campus were $19,482. Once you have an idea of what it will cost, you will want to determine what you will have available for resources.
Savings. Parents (and students) are encouraged to incorporate college savings as one component of their overall financial plan. While you may not be able to save enough to pay the entire cost of a college education, any savings will mean that much less that you have to worry about financing.
Families with a desire to save for future college expenses have more options than ever before. Powerful investment vehicles, including Section 529 college savings programs and Coverdell education savings accounts, were added to traditional investment options—savings accounts, taxable investment accounts, annuities, and U.S. Savings Bonds—as a means to save for college. You may wish to review www.savingforcollege.com, which contains information on the basics of saving for college. Of course, the earlier you start saving for college, the better. If the tuition bill is right around the corner, you may need to supplement any savings you have accumulated with other resources.
Scholarships. Numerous scholarship opportunities are available through the Financial Aid Office, academic departments, and UWM Foundation. For a complete listing of all campus scholarships, please visit www.scholarships.uwm.edu. You will also find links to free scholarship searches on our website. If you are in high school, don't forget to check with your guidance counselor for potential scholarship opportunities.
Financial Aid. All students are strongly encouraged to apply for financial aid. It is free, easy, and should be done online at www.fafsa.gov (Free Application for Federal Student Aid site). January 1 prior to the start of the fall semester is the earliest date you can apply for the upcoming academic year. If you submit your federal tax returns online two weeks prior to submitting your FAFSA, and pay any tax owed, you may be able use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). Using the DRT means copies of your tax returns will not be requested. It could also mean a lower chance of being selected for verification, which may cause delays in determining your aid eligibility. If you can't use the DRT or typically have your taxes completed later, you should file using your best estimates by our priority filing date – March 1. Then go back and update the information once your figures are final. Many programs have a limited amount of funding and aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so file as early as possible to receive the best aid package available. In most cases, it will take a minimum of one month from the date the FAFSA is submitted to complete the process of applying for aid and having your eligibility determined. Applicants waiting until after May 1 to file a FAFSA or submit a loan application will most likely experience longer processing times. You are required to complete a new FAFSA each year. Effective with the 2017-18 academic year (fall 2017 and later), the FAFSA can be submitted as early as October 1 prior to the fall semester, and will use tax information from two years prior (for the 2017-18 year, file October 1, 2016, using tax information from 2015.)
Many parents of college-bound students don’t file a FAFSA because they think they make too much money to qualify for any financial assistance. In reality, many underestimate their eligibility for financial aid. More than 80% of UWM students receive financial assistance. Minimally, most students can receive a Federal Direct Stafford Loan (with a low fixed interest rate), but only after filing a FAFSA. To receive an early estimate of your expected family contribution as well as aid eligibility, you can go to www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov or use the UWM Total Cost Estimator and Net Price Calculator.
A student qualifies for need-based aid if the total cost of attendance (which includes tuition and fees, an allowance for room and meals, transportation, books and supplies, and personal miscellaneous expenses) is greater than their expected family contribution (EFC). Students who do not qualify for need-based aid may still be eligible for a non-need-based loan. To be eligible for financial aid, a student must also maintain satisfactory academic progress, be a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen, be admitted to the University, and, in most cases, attend UWM on at least a half-time basis.
Financial aid falls into three broad categories, any or all of which may be offered to a student as part of his or her financial aid package: grants and scholarships (gift aid that does not need to be repaid), loans (money borrowed at low interest that must be repaid), and Federal Work-Study (a program that provides employment opportunities for students). For details on grants, scholarships, student employment, and loans, please visit the various subsections of our website.
Many students work while attending college. Although some students, based on the results of their FAFSA, will be offered employment through the Federal Work-Study program, many more find employment on their own—both on and around campus. Current listings can be found on Panther Jobs at http://uwm.edu/careerplan/.
A great way to increase the affordability of a college education is to take advantage of federal tax breaks aimed at families/students saving and paying for college.
Installment Payment Plan. This plan is offered by the University through the Bursar Office to those who are unable to pay their bill in full (minus any financial aid) by the first due date.Additional Loans/Resources
Many students (and often their parents) have no choice but to borrow. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the amount owed at graduation. To start, reduce your budget wherever possible. You may have heard the saying, “Live like a poor college student now so that you don’t have to live like one after you graduate.” Also, make sure you take full advantage of the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program before you take out any private loans. Additional information on the Direct Loan program can be found in the loan area of our website.
Parent PLUS Loan. A FAFSA must be completed before a Parent PLUS Loan can be certified. Parent PLUS Loans have a fixed interest rate that is determined in early June for the upcoming academic year. The interest rate for Parent PLUS Loans disbursed for 2015-16, was 6.84%. Parents must borrow this loan through the Federal Direct Loan program. A credit check is required. The Parent PLUS application is found online at www.studentloans.gov.
Private Alternative Loan. These are private student loans, usually in the student’s name, which aren't guaranteed by the federal government. Some have fixed interest rates, but most have variable rates that are typically tied to the prime rate or another benchmark. Rates range from about 6% to more than 14%. These loans should only be used as a last resort. Students usually need to apply with a co-signer. Not doing so generally means you will pay much higher rates or you might not be able to get a private loan at all.
Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards
University and federal regulations require that a student be making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward a degree to be eligible for financial aid. SAP consists of two components of measurement: qualitative and quantitative. A student's SAP is reviewed on a semester-by-semester basis.
Qualitative: Financial aid recipients are governed by the performance standards of the school or college in which they are enrolled. Failure to meet the required standards may make a student ineligible to continue enrollment and therefore ineligible for financial aid.
Quantitative: Students will be expected to be making satisfactory "pace" toward a degree by passing two-thirds, 66.67%, of the classes they enroll in. Students' aid eligibility will be limited to 180 attempted credits for their first undergraduate degree. Students not meeting these standards will be notified of their status shortly after grades are posted after the end of each semester. For more information about the SAP policy, please refer to the Academic Progress Standards page of our website.
Students may be eligible for military education benefits if the criteria are met under one of the programs listed: Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, Montgomery GI Bill - Vocational Rehabilitation, and Dependent Educational Assistance. Wisconsin veterans also may be eligible for educational assistance under the Veterans Education Grant Program and the Wisconsin GI Bill. The Wisconsin GI Bill also allows for tuition and fee waivers for eligible spouses and children of Wisconsin veterans who are deceased or 30% or more disabled. For detailed information about each program, please refer to the UW-Milwaukee Military Educational Benefits link on the financial aid website.
Members of the National Guard also may be eligible for tuition reimbursement under the National Guard Tuition Grant Program. Guard members should contact their unit for additional information on eligibility.
Members of the Reserves or students attending school while on active duty may be eligible for Federal Tuition Assistance to help with tuition costs.
To determine qualifications under these programs or to apply, contact the staff in the Military Educational Benefits Office (located west of the Financial Aid Office) in Mellencamp Hall, Room 168A, by phone at (414) 229-6627, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rates. The base undergraduate fees/tuition rate for Wisconsin residents during the 2014-15 academic year was approximately $9,400 for a full-time (12-18 credits) student. The full-time rate for non-residents was approximately $19,120. These tuition amounts do not include the differential tuition charged for some programs, additional special course fees for online/distance education classes, or special course fees related to materials, equipment rental, or field trips. Consult the Bursar Office website (www.bursar.uwm.edu) for the fee/tuition rates currently in effect.
Financial Obligation and University Credit Agreement. Students make a financial commitment
when registering for classes at UWM. All students are required to sign
a University Credit Agreement. The University Credit Agreement is now
available online from the Student Center (Home Page) in PAWS. Students
can click on the Credit Agreement link located in the Finances section
to view and complete the agreement.
NOTE: It is recommended that students check their Finances section on PAWS to make sure they have no outstanding financial obligations with a prior due date. If there are charges with a prior due date, payments posted to PAWS will apply to those charges first.
Due Date. Payment is due on the date specified on the student PAWS account. General tuition and fee due dates are available from the Bursar Office website (www.tuitionandfees.uwm.edu). You must view your PAWS account for exact due dates. Failure to view PAWS does not negate the student's responsibility to pay by the due date. Past due PAWS charges are subject to late fees, finance charges, and Bursar holds. Continued enrollment at UWM is contingent on full payment of tuition and fees and any outstanding charges on the PAWS account.
Payments on PAWS. To review PAWS accounts, view payment due dates, or make payments online, select the Finances option on PAWS at www.paws.uwm.edu. All PAWS charges may be paid with webCheck, an electronic check payment option. MasterCard and American Express credit cards also are accepted. A 2.5% convenience fee is charged for PAWS online credit card payment transactions. For more payment options, visit the Bursar Office website (www.bursar.uwm.edu).
Installment Payment Plan. The Bursar Office administers the Installment Payment Plan, primarily for students who do not have sufficient funds at the start of the semester to pay in full by the fee due date. To use the Installment Payment Plan, you must pay all prior term PAWS charges plus $100 toward fall charges (fall semester) or $100 toward spring charges (spring semester) by the tuition date. For more information about the Installment Payment Plan, contact the Bursar Office, Mitchell 295, phone (414) 229-4914, or see the Bursar Office website (www.bursar.uwm.edu).
Withdrawal. Charges are assessed for withdrawal beginning with the first day of the class session. Nonattendance does not constitute withdrawal. Students who fail to formally withdraw by dropping all classes online via PAWS or submitting a withdrawal form will remain responsible for full fees/tuition and will be subject to failing grades. In accordance with UW System policy, proof of withdrawal rests with the student.
Students' financial aid eligibility will be recalculated if they withdraw, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60% of the semester. The recalculation is based on the equation "aid minus earned aid equals unearned aid." Unearned aid is returned to the funding source. When unearned aid for institutional costs is returned, students may incur a tuition, housing, or food service balance with the University. If students need to repay unearned aid for non-institutional costs, they will be contacted by the Department of Financial Aid.
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