Financial Aid Process

  1. Student and one parent, if a dependent aid applicant, apply for a Federal Student Aid ID to sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID also is used to sign loan documents and complete other federal aid processes electronically. The student and parent must apply for separate FSA IDs for their own personal use as the FSA ID serves as a legal signature and thus should not be shared with anyone, including family.
  2. Student (and family) completes the FAFSA.
    1. It's important to file as soon as possible as some sources of financial aid have limited funds. 
    2. The school code for University of Wisconsin Colleges is 003897.
    3. It is recommended that students and parents use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import tax information directly into the FAFSA, if eligible.
  3. Student receives a Student Aid Report (SAR) 2-3 weeks after FAFSA submitted.
    1. Sent by the U.S. Department of Education to the email address provided on the FAFSA. If none provided or email is not valid, a paper copy is sent.
    2. The SAR is a summary of the information provided on the FAFSA. Student reviews information for accuracy and verifies that the University of Wisconsin Colleges is listed correctly.
  4. Verification may be required, submit documents and forms when requested. The U.S. Department of Education selects approximately 30% of students who complete the 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 on the SAR if they are selected and will receive notices from UW Colleges of the required Verification documents that must be submitted to the Student Financial Aid Office. 
  5. Financial Aid Award Offer Created. After an electronic version of the SAR is received by the UW Colleges Student Financial Aid Office (and Verification has been completed, if applicable), the student's financial need is calculated. A student's estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) less the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals financial need. Several types of financial aid are based on financial need.
    1. The Financial Aid Award Offer notice is then emailed to the student at the student's UW Colleges email account. The Award Offer will include aid programs for which the student is eligible taking into consideration the calculated need. 
    2. The student should follow the instructions provided in the Award Offer email and utilize all of the supporting documents referenced in it, including the Financial Aid Award Guide, PRISM Account Access Instructions, and Accepting Financial Aid. All of these documents may be found at > Money Matters > Financial Aid under Award Guides.
  6. Award Offer Review.  The student will need to log in to PRISM (the University of Wisconsin Colleges’ online Student Information System) to access and review the financial aid package and to indicate the intended action (Accept / Reduce Award Amount / Decline) as to the aid offered. Outside/private sources of assistance, including non-UW Colleges or private scholarships, tuition reimbursements, DVR, non-federal veterans’ benefits, and AmeriCorps, also need to be reported.
    1. To accept, reduce the award amount, or decline aid awards after logging in to PRISM, navigate to Main Menu > Self Service > Student Center. In the PRISM Student Center, click on View Financial Aid and then choose Financial Aid Year (2017-2018, 2016-2017, etc.).
    2. To report outside assistance, navigate to Main Menu > Self Service > Student Center and click on Report Other Financial Aid.  
  7. If accepting a Direct Student (Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized) Loan, the student must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) online. Loan Entrance Counseling and the MPN need to be completed prior to disbursement of Direct Loan funds, otherwise release of the funds will be delayed. It is recommended that these loan application requirements be satisfied 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the semester of first enrollment.
  8. Students must reapply for financial aid each year through that year's FAFSA process.

For a brief checklist of to do items see After You Apply.