Going to college is a huge commitment – both in terms of time and money. However, the many benefits obtained by earning a degree still make college worth the investment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, adults with a bachelor's degree or higher had a lower unemployment rate in 2009 (www.census.gov) than those with just an associate's degree or high school diploma. Your odds of finding a job are higher with a four-year degree.
In addition, studies show that individuals with bachelor's degrees earn higher salaries than those with just a high school diploma; about $22,000 more per year. The increased earnings cut across gender and ethnic groups. There are also some reports that indicate adults with a college degree are healthier and more active citizens.
We're Here to Help
The Department of Financial Aid, Student Employment and the Military Education Benefits Office is here to help you with your financing questions. Financial aid can greatly enhance a student's ability to take the first step to becoming a college graduate. Please visit our website for additional details on applying for aid, our contact information (including office and advising hours) and calculators that you can use to help determine your eligibility.
For questions on charges, costs, due dates and payment plans, you will want to visit the Bursar website.
At UWM, 23,000 students were awarded more than $284 million in financial aid in 2011-2012.
2012-13 academic year undergraduate resident tuition: $8,600 to $11,100
Actual tuition costs for an academic year are typically not established until the July preceding the start of the fall semester. However, students and families are strongly encouraged to start developing their own individual budget as soon as possible. There are many online sources available to help you:
- Actual tuition charges from prior terms are available on the Bursar's website.
- Various rates for housing and meal plans are available on the Housing website.
- The Financial Aid Department establishes an "Estimated Cost of Attendance" for each academic year. These numbers are used to determine a student's eligibility for aid, but they are also helpful if you just want to get a ballpark idea of what nine months of attending UWM may cost. These numbers are updated around March 1 prior to the start of a new academic year. You may find them helpful as you develop your own personalized budget.
- The Financial Aid Department also has two calculators on their website. The Award Estimator provides a financial aid award estimate based on an EFC. The Net Price Calculator provides an estimate of the out-of-pocket cost to attend UWM.
What, When & How of Financial Aid
Now that you have made the time commitment, let us help you with the money part. There are a variety of financial aid programs available to students today to make attending college affordable, including scholarships, grants, work-study employment, and student loans. Nearly two-thirds of today's full-time college students receive some form of need-based aid. Need-based financial aid eligibility is based on two calculations — the total cost of education and the family's ability to pay. The cost of education can vary significantly from institution to institution. Generally, these calculations include all reasonable costs (tuition, room, meals, books and living expenses) of attendance. For more information on how need is determined and what we are using for your cost of attendance, visit the Financial Aid Basics area of our website.
To Apply for Financial Aid
- If you are not a current student, apply for admission to UWM (apply.wisconsin.edu).
- Apply for financial aid online at fafsa.gov. The application for the upcoming year is available January 1. Designate UWM as a recipient using the Title IV code 003896.
- The results of your FAFSA (called a Student Aid Report or SAR) will be emailed or mailed to you within three weeks of filing.
Most communication is done with you via email, so continue to monitor your email account. We will use your UWM email address once you have been assigned one. Financial aid formulas consider a variety of family circumstances when determining eligibility. Consequently, there’s no real cut-off point or maximum income a family can have and still qualify for assistance. Every student, regardless of financial situation, should consider applying for financial aid to see what happens.
At UWM, there is a priority filing deadline of March 1. Many programs are administered on a first-come, first-served basis, so you are encouraged to apply even earlier if possible.
Types of Aid Defined
A scholarship is a form of student financial aid that does not need to be repaid. Selection of scholarship recipients is usually based on a set of criteria, such as academic, athletic or artistic merit. Students can do searches for scholarship offerings on their own through the web or with the help of a school counselor or a career services professional. It is vitally important that students and families know that there is a great deal of money available in scholarships. The message here is apply, apply, apply!
Grants are available on the basis of financial need and funding allocations, and do not have to be repaid. Grants are awarded to students who demonstrate the greatest financial need.
Federal Work-Study is a federally funded program that provides employment opportunities to students with the highest financial need. Placement is limited.
Loans are funds that you must repay. The Federal Loan programs offer a secure, government-regulated and reasonably affordable way to invest in yourself and your goal of a higher education. Even though some loans are based on financial need, there are programs available to all federally eligible students regardless of income. Types of loans include Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Stafford Loans, and Federal Direct PLUS Loans (for graduate students or parents of dependent undergraduate students). Private Education Loans, also known as Alternative Loans, are credit-based loans that can help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the amount of your other financial aid funds. Private loans are offered by private lenders and should only be considered after exhausting all other sources of funding – including federal loans.