Financial Aid

The UW Colleges Student Financial Aid Office serves students attending the 13 campuses of UW Colleges and UW Colleges Online:


The purpose of financial aid is to help students and families meet educational expenses that cannot be met through their own resources. For most financial aid including federal programs, students are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As the name states, the FAFSA is free. The information provided on the FAFSA will help determine a student's aid eligibility, specifically for need-based and non-need based aid programs through determination of financial need (see below under Cost of Attendance). Please visit the application process page for more information.

UW Colleges Federal School Code: 003897

For additional financial aid information, visit the UW Colleges Student Financial Aid Office.


Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance or COA includes estimates of the student’s educational expenses for the period of enrollment. Please note that the COA does not represent actual charges. Signifying average costs for the different expense categories of tuition* and fees, room and board, books and supplies, miscellaneous and personal, and transportation, the estimated COA is used to determine the maximum amount of financial aid that may be awarded. Initial COA figures are based on full-time enrollment, however are adjusted at the start of the corresponding term on the financial aid census date to reflect the student’s enrollment status.  *The allowance for tuition is tied to the student’s residency classification, WI Resident, Nonresident, etc.

The Expected Family Contribution or EFC is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education based on the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The EFC is not the amount of money the student’s family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of financial aid the student will receive; it is the number used to calculate the amount of federal and state aid the student is eligible to receive.

The resulting Financial Need figure determines the student's eligibility for certain types of aid programs, most grants, Federal Work-Study, and need-based loans (Direct Subsidized Loans); a student must demonstrate financial need in order to be eligible for need-based financial aid programs. Estimated Cost of Attendance, EFC, and Financial Need may be viewed in PRISM at Main Menu > Self Service > Student Center > View Financial Aid > Financial Aid Summary.

(tuition, fees, books and supplies, living expenses)
(determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA)

Visit the Cost of Attendance page for more information.


Types of Aid

Refer below for information as to various types of financial aid and specific aid programs. Also visit the Award Guides section of the Student Financial Aid website for additional application requirements about these and other aid programs.


Grants are considered gift aid and do not have to be repaid. Typically gift aid is based on meeting a program's need-based eligibility requirement. Therefore, the student must complete the FAFSA to be considered for grant programs. Sources of grants include federal, state, private, and institutional funds. Although grants are a very desirable source of financial aid, the availability of grants is generally limited to the neediest students. 

Types of Grants

Federal Pell Grants
Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree and are based on the FAFSA-calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Additionally, how much money a student receives under the Federal Pell Grant program is tied to the student's enrollment status, part time (less than 12 credits) or full time (12 or more credits). The Pell award amount will be prorated to reflect the enrollment status for the respective term.

Beginning Fall 2012, students are limited to the equivalent of 6 years / 12 semesters / 600% of Pell Grant eligibility during their lifetime. This change affects all students regardless of when or where they received their first Pell Grant award. Once a student has used 600% of Pell Grant eligibility, the student will no longer be eligible to receive a Pell Grant.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
SEOG is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need and gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. Exceptional need is defined as students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs). Recipients must be enrolled at least half time (6 or more credits). Since SEOG is a limited fund, UW Colleges must have the results of a student's FAFSA by the priority deadline of April 1 in order for the student to be considered for this grant. UW Colleges awards a maximum of $1000 per academic year in SEOG. With limited funding if a student’s aid eligibility is lost at any point during the award year, SEOG funds may not be available for a student even if aid eligibility is regained at a later date.

Wisconsin Grant – University of Wisconsin Students (formerly Wisconsin Higher Education Grant/WHEG)
The Wisconsin Grant provides grant assistance to undergraduate, Wisconsin residents enrolled at least half time (6 or more credits). Awards are based on financial need. Receipt of Wisconsin Grant funds is capped at ten semesters. Wisconsin Grant funding is limited and once the institution's allocation is committed, eligible students will be placed on a pending award list. With limited funding if a student’s aid eligibility is lost at any point during the award year, Wisconsin Grant funds may not be available for a student even if aid eligibility is regained at a later date.

Wisconsin Talent Incentive Program (TIP)
The Talent Incentive Program (TIP) Grant provides grant assistance to the most financially-needy and educationally-disadvantaged Wisconsin resident students attending colleges and universities in the State of Wisconsin. First-time freshman students are nominated for the TIP Grant by financial aid offices or by counselors of the Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs (WEOP). To continue to receive the TIP Grant, students must be enrolled in consecutive terms and show financial need. Eligibility cannot exceed ten semesters. The maximum TIP award is $1800 per academic year.

Wisconsin Indian Student Assistance Grant
Awards under this program are made to Wisconsin residents who are at least 25% Native American. Awards range from $250 to $1,100 and are based on financial need with a limit of ten semesters of eligibility. The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board can provide more information. 

Wisconsin Hearing and Visually Handicapped Student Grant
The Handicapped Student Grant program was established to provide funding for undergraduate Wisconsin residents who show financial need and have a severe or profound hearing or visual impairment. Students are eligible to receive up to $1,800 per year for up to ten semesters. The Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board can provide more information. 


Loan programs are a major source of financial aid for many students. Completion of a FAFSA is required for all federal loan programs. All loans, including student loans, represent debt that must be repaid. However, most student loans do not go into repayment until after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment (6 credits). In addition to delayed repayment, most federal student loans have:

  • relatively low interest rates
  • several repayment options from which to choose
  • circumstances under which repayment may be postponed
  • other favorable terms and conditions

Loans may be thought of as an investment in the student's future as long as the borrower is prepared to meet the repayment responsibilities. Failure to repay loans will have serious adverse consequences. When borrowing, it is important to:

  • carefully plan and budget so that the amount borrowed is only what is needed to cover essentials
  • keep track of how much is borrowed each year
  • have an idea as to how the amount borrowed will be repaid when the time comes

Loan Options

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
This is a need-based student loan from the U.S. Department of Education made on the basis of the student's demonstrated financial need as addressed above in the Cost of Attendance section. The federal government does not* charge interest on these loans while borrowers are enrolled at least half-time (6 credits), during the six-month grace period prior to repayment, or during authorized periods of deferment.

Beginning July 1, 2013, first-time Direct Loan borrowers are limited to receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loan funds for no more than 150% of the published length of their program of study. *The U.S. Department of Education may stop paying interest if a student who received Direct Subsidized Loans for the maximum period continues enrollment.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
This is a federally-financed student loan from the U.S. Department of Education made available to students regardless of financial need. Interest is charged throughout the life of the loan. The borrower may pay the interest on the loan while in school or allow the interest to be capitalized (added to the loan principal). Capitalizing the interest will increase the amount that is repaid over the life of the loan.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
A PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) Loan from the U.S. Department of Education is available to the parent of a Dependent aid applicant. The parent is the borrower and is responsible for repaying the loan. These loans are available regardless of financial need and the amount of eligibility depends on the Cost of Attendance and all other aid received. The parent applicant will be subjected to a credit check as part of the application process.

Alternative/Private Loan
Alternative loans are private loan offerings from outside financial institutions that help bridge the gap between the Cost of Attendance and the amount of assistance available through federal and state aid programs. A private or alternative educational loan is not associated with the federal student loan program (Direct Lending) and will not be awarded to a student without the student’s initiation. Before looking at alternative funding, make sure all possible federal and state financial aid funds have been exhausted. The Student Financial Aid Office strongly recommends that students file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for all types of aid, including federal student loans, before applying for an alternative loan.


Scholarships are monetary gifts from community, private, and campus sources and are usually based on academic merit or some other criteria. Some scholarships also require verification of financial need. Therefore, all scholarship applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the FAFSA. Campus foundations at the 13 UW Colleges campuses, local businesses, and other sources provide scholarships for students. No repayment of scholarships is required unless the student fails to meet the terms of the grantor.

Student Employment

Federal Work-Study (FWS) allows a student to earn money to help pay educational expenses through on-campus or community-based employment. A FWS award is not a guarantee of employment, but represents possible self-help eligibility. FWS does not have to be repaid and awarding is based on financial need. FWS encourages work in community service and work related to a student's course of study to the extent possible. Students who are awarded Federal Work-Study should visit the Student Affairs Office on their campus to inquire about job positions that are available. Please note that job opportunities may be limited.

Military Education Benefits

The University of Wisconsin Colleges is fully approved for the certification of education benefits for veterans and veterans' dependents under both federal and State of WI Veterans Affairs programs.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs provides information regarding federal benefits. The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs provides information regarding state-provided benefits and a County Veterans Service Office list. The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs provides additional information regarding state-provided benefits. Contact the nearest Veterans Affairs office for assistance with obtaining federal and state VA benefits.

Specialized academic advising, support groups, and family services are available through campus Student Affairs Offices. For further information, contact the Campus Coordinator of Veterans Services.


Academic Progress and Withdrawal

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

Federal regulations require students receiving financial aid to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and be working toward a degree. Courses attempted at UW Colleges, as well as any transfer credits, are included in the SAP evaluation. SAP is assessed for all enrolled students even in terms in which no financial aid was received. At the end of each term, enrolled students are evaluated to determine if they are meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

Students who are not meeting SAP are no longer eligible to receive financial aid at any UW Colleges campus. Students may appeal their SAP status, addressing extenuating circumstances and changes being made to ensure that SAP standards will be met in the future, via the appeal process defined below. If the appeal is approved, aid eligibility is reestablished. Subsequent SAP assessments will determine aid eligibility for additional terms.

SAP Requirements

SAP Pace Requirement
Students must successfully complete two thirds (66.67%) of credits attempted to demonstrate progress toward degree completion. Under SAP, this is assessed by calculating Pace of Progression: the number of credits earned (or passed) divided by the total number of credits attempted.

SAP GPA Requirement
As students are required to achieve at least a C average (2.0 cumulative GPA) in order to earn the AAS Degree (at a minimum of 60 credits), students must maintain a cumulative GPA consistent with the institutional academic-standing policy to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. The below escalating GPA scale represents the standard by which SAP will be measured.

GPA Scale for Measuring SAP
Degree Credits Attempted Minimum Cumulative GPA Required
1-11 1.50
12-23 1.625
24-35 1.75
36-47 1.875
> 48 2.00

SAP Maximum Timeframe Requirement
The Associate of Arts & Science (AAS) Degree program requires students to complete a minimum of 60 credits to meet degree requirements. Under SAP, students are allowed to enroll for a maximum of 150 percent of the number of credits needed to earn the AAS degree. This means that a student is allowed to attempt a maximum of 90 credits in order to complete the AAS degree requirements; after an AAS student has attempted 90 credits, the student is no longer eligible for financial aid. For the UW Colleges’ Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) Program, students are required to complete 120 credits; for SAP Maximum Timeframe, BAAS students are limited to 180 attempted credits. The maximum timeframe calculation of credits attempted includes transfer credits.

In addition to evaluating maximum timeframe with SAP assessments at the end of each term, maximum timeframe is monitored weekly. If at any point it is determined that a student is not meeting SAP due to maximum timeframe (for example due to the institution's receipt of an academic transcript for a transfer student), the student is no longer eligible to receive aid for that term or any future terms.

Remedial coursework is included in the calculation of maximum timeframe. After a student has attempted 30 credits of remedial credits, the student is no longer eligible for financial aid.

SAP Appeal Process

Students failing to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements and who can demonstrate extenuating circumstances and the changes being made to ensure that SAP standards will be met in the future may appeal. Students who have an appeal approved must complete a SAP contract with the campus Student Affairs Office or Online Advisor. The SAP contract is an academic plan which will assist the student in meeting SAP requirements in current/future semesters. Students must meet SAP requirements OR meet the requirements of a contract in order to continue receiving aid.

If an appeal is denied, a student may continue enrollment at his/her own expense and is responsible for any balance owed to UW Colleges.

Find out more about the SAP appeal information and related forms.

Impact of Academic Withdrawal on Financial Aid

Withdrawing from College may have both academic and financial aid consequences. Students are encouraged to understand the consequences before deciding to withdraw. A student who is receiving financial aid and is considering withdrawal should discuss the situation with the campus Student Affairs Office to learn the implications of such a decision and about established withdrawal procedures and process.

Current Semester
Using a specific formula, financial aid is considered earned based on the amount of time a student has attended during the semester for which aid was received. For example: if a student has completed 25% of a term at the point of withdrawing, the student has earned 25% of the aid scheduled to be received and thus must repay a portion of unearned aid. The Student Financial Aid Office will send notification to withdrawn students as to the amount of aid that must be repaid. 

Future Semesters
All students must successfully complete at least two thirds of cumulative attempted hours to remain eligible for financial aid under the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements. Withdrawing from classes will impact the percentage of credits earned compared to credits attempted and possibly the SAP GPA measure as well. This may result in the student failing SAP when the assessment is measured at the end of the term and consequently being ineligible for aid in subsequent terms.

Return of Funds

Federal Return of Title IV Funds policy mandates that students who withdraw from all classes may keep only the federal financial aid they have earned up to the time of withdrawal. Federal aid programs awarded at UW Colleges that fall under the Return of Title IV Funds policy include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or SEOG, Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Loans, Direct Parent PLUS Loan, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. State and institutional aid programs may require similar treatment in certain circumstances.

Although aid is posted to the student's university account at the beginning of the term, the student earns the aid funds as the term is completed. In the event that a student withdraws from all classes, the UW Colleges Student Financial Aid Office will determine the amount of financial aid a student has earned and how much must be returned for educational and living expenses tied to the weeks the student will no longer be enrolled. Any student withdrawing prior to the 60% point in the term should expect to have to repay financial aid in a percentage roughly equivalent to the percentage of time not in attendance. Once a student has attended more than 60% of the term, the student has earned all of the assistance received for that term.

 If the amount of aid already disbursed to a student for the semester exceeds the recalculated earned-aid eligibility stemming from the withdrawal, it will be necessary that appropriate payment be made for the unearned aid. Student payment could be from tuition refunded by UW Colleges (Refund Schedule) or the student using funds that were given directly via a financial aid refund check.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement

In rare instances where a student may not have received all of the federal financial aid funds earned before withdrawing from classes, the student may be due what is referred to as a post-withdrawal disbursement. A federal grant, with the exception of a Pell Grant for a student whose Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA was selected for Verification, must have been awarded prior to withdrawal for the grant award to be considered under post-withdrawal disbursement. Federal loan awards must have been accepted by the student, or the parent in the case of a parent PLUS Loan, and the loan award’s acceptance must have been sent to or “originated” with the U.S. Department of Education prior to the student's withdrawal to be eligible for post-withdrawal disbursement. The student's (or parent's for a PLUS Loan) permission is required in most cases to disburse such funds and thus the Student Financial Aid Office will contact the student (or parent) if a post-withdrawal disbursement is applicable and eligibility requirements have been met.

Unofficial Withdrawal

If a student stops attending all classes, does not officially withdraw, and fails to earn a passing grade in at least one course and/or has a 0.0 GPA for the term, the student may be considered an unofficial withdrawal for the term. At the end of each semester, the Student Financial Aid Office identifies all students to which this applies. These students may have to repay some of the aid that they received and will be notified of the amount of unearned aid that must be repaid.