Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I apply?

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at When filing the FAFSA, you should list the University of Wisconsin Colleges school code of 003897. This will ensure that UWC receives the results of your FAFSA and processes your financial aid according to your eligibility. More information can be found in the How To Apply section of the site.

Q. What are the deadlines?

Submit the FAFSA by the UW Colleges priority date of April 1 preceding each award year in order for you to be considered for all available financial aid. More information can be found on the Eligibility and Deadlines page.

Q. What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a record of the information you provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It will be emailed to you after your FAFSA has been processed. You should review this information carefully for accuracy. If you find incorrect information or you originally used estimated information and need to report actual figures, make your updates online via the FAFSA correction process.

Q. What is financial need and how is it determined?

A student's financial need is determined by using the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is derived from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The EFC takes into account the number of people in the household size, the number of people in college, student income and assets. When a student is dependent and required to include parent(s) information on the FAFSA, parent(s) income and assets are taken into consideration as well. Need-based aid consists of grants, scholarships, Federal Work-Study, and Direct Subsidized Loans. The remainder of the student's budget may be covered by a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, a Direct Parent PLUS Loan, or an alternative loan from a private lender. The maximum amount of aid a student can receive is determined by his or her Cost of Attendance Budget

Q. How can I be considered Independent?

To be considered an independent student when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you must meet be able to answer "Yes" to one of the FAFSA Dependency questions: Dependency Status. If you answer "No" to all questions, parental demographic and income information must be provided on the FAFSA in addition to the student's.

There is a Dependency Appeal process. However, only well-documented appeals of extreme parental estrangement may be approved. Living apart from your parents, being financially independent of your parents, or parents refusing to provide their information on the FAFSA does not allow you to be independent for financial aid purposes. Contact your Student Affairs Office to obtain a Dependency Appeal Form and discuss your situation.

Q. What is the Verification process?

Annually, the U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Verification. Verification is a process where the school confirms that the data reported on the FAFSA is accurate. Students will be informed by the U.S. Department of Education of their being selected for Verification and will receive notices from UW Colleges of the required Verification documents that must be submitted to the Student Financial Aid Office. For more information see the Verification page.

Q. Do I need to accept my Financial Aid Award Offer?

You do not need to accept grants/scholarships. You DO need to accept Federal Work-Study and loans. You are also required to report if you have other/outside sources of assistance not listed on the award offer.

Q. What do I need to do to receive a Direct Loan at UW Colleges?

  1. Complete the FAFSA.
  2. Accept the loan in PRISM.
  3. Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling.
  4. Complete a Master Promissory Note.

Q. When will financial aid credit my UW Colleges account?

Financial aid will be credited directly toward your University of Wisconsin Colleges student account to cover approved institutional charges, including tuition and fees. Most federal and state grant and loan programs along with UW Colleges scholarships will be applied to your account the next business day following the 10th day of classes, the financial aid census date. You need to finalize your class schedule by the dates above and be officially enrolled in PRISM. Attending a class while waitlisted does not constitute official enrollment. The crediting of Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and Parent PLUS Loans will be contingent on completion of all loan application and eligibility requirements.

Q. What if I have more financial aid than what I owe the UW Colleges?

When calculating your financial need, the Student Financial Aid Office takes into consideration tuition and fees, room and meals, books and supplies, transportation, and personal/miscellaneous expenses. Once your tuition and fees are paid, excess funds will be mailed to your current mailing address; these funds are available for your other educational expenses. To determine if you will receive a financial aid refund, you should compare your university charges with your anticipated financial aid. In most cases, this is evident on your university account statement accessible via PRISM. You also may use your aid Award Offer to review your financial aid. If you have financial aid on your Award Offer that is not appearing as an anticipated credit on your account statement, you may need to complete additional paperwork, register for additional credit hours, or complete an online process for that award. Requirements for each award are explained on the Award Offer and in the accompanying Award Guide available on the Student Financial Aid Office's main web page.

Q. What happens if I drop a class after financial aid has been credited to my account?

You need to finalize your class schedule by midnight of the tenth day of classes in a given term. If you drop a class after this time, you will receive a W grade on your transcript and may have difficulty meeting the requirements of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.

What happens if I withdraw from the UW Colleges after I've received my aid?

If you officially withdraw from all of your courses, the UW Colleges is required to perform a calculation called the Return of Title IV Funds which will determine the amount of financial aid you earned and the amount of financial aid you need to return/repay. If you withdraw from the UW Colleges during the first 60% of the term, your financial aid will be adjusted based on the calculation. The Student Financial Aid Office will review what charges you are responsible for and what financial aid you are eligible to receive at the time of your withdrawal. Your aid may be reduced or canceled based on this process and you may owe a balance to the UW Colleges. You will be notified by the Student Financial Aid Office as to the outcome of this process.

If you stop attending all classes during the term and do not go through the official withdraw process, you will be treated as an “unofficial withdrawal” if you received federal aid during the term. At the end of each semester, the Student Financial Aid Office identifies all students to which this applies. If it is determined that you will have to repay some of the aid that you received, a Return of Funds calculation will be processed and you will be notified of the amount owed.

Visit Impact of Academic Withdrawal on Financial Aid for additional information. Also whether you officially or unofficially withdraw, you will most likely have difficulty meeting the requirements of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy.