Parents-English FAQ

- Are there jobs available for students who want to work?

The university and surrounding community offer plenty of job opportunities for students. Most students can still do well academically while working 8-10 hours/week. Students who are offered Federal Work-Study in their financial aid award can apply for work-study designated positions; students who have not applied for federal aid or were not offered Federal Work-Study can still apply for jobs on campus. Information on current jobs can be found by linking to the UW Student Job Center site.

- How do we pay for housing if we want to use financial aid?
  • Any financial aid funds received will be applied to the student's tuition account at the Bursar's office.
  • If tuition is fully covered by the funds and there is an excess, the refund is mailed to the student at his/her mailing address. The student is then expected to use these funds to pay for other expenses, such as housing, books, supplies, etc.
- How often do you need to apply and when should we start the process?

Students must reapply for financial aid each school year. This includes filing the federal form (FAFSA) and supplying our office with any other forms we might request. The process can be started as soon as January 1st for the next school year or as soon as you have completed your federal tax returns.

- How will you notify my student of his/her award?

All students (except for new students who have not registered for classes yet) are assigned a university email account. Most of our communications with your student will be done via this university account, including notification of the financial aid award. Students will receive an email with directions on how to access their awards online to accept or decline them. If they want a paper copy of it, there is a printable version they can download. If new students who haven’t registered yet have provided an email address on their admissions application, we will be using that address to communicate with them until they are assigned their university email account. Those new students who haven’t provided an email address on their admissions application will be notified via U.S. mail.

- In a divorced/separated family, which parent should file the forms?

You will want to refer to the instructions provided with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); it says:

  • If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months.
  • If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months.
- My student will need additional funds beyond the financial aid offered. Where should we look?
  • If you are willing to borrow to assist your student with educational expenses, you may want to consider the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan. If interested in this loan, you need to start the process with us. You can get information on this loan and the forms to start the process by going here. If you are denied the PLUS because of the mandatory credit check by your lender, your student will be able to borrow some additional funding through the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program. You would need to supply our office with a copy of the denial along with a request for unsubsidized loan.
  • You may also want to investigate private loans. These are non-federal loans offered by private agencies so the costs associated with them tend to be higher than with federal loans. For more information see Private Loans on our website.
- Should students bring credit cards to school?
  • It depends. Some students have no problem using a credit card wisely, especially if they have some experience with one and understand the terms. Other students may find it hard not to overspend and as a result may find themselves unable to make minimum payments. They might even drop out of school in order to make their payments, or end up ruining their credit rating for a long time.
  • If you decide to have your student bring a credit card, we recommend having just one card and that it may be wise to get one with a low credit limit to discourage overspending. We also recommend that students develop a spending plan to help them determine what expenses they can afford based on the income and/or savings they have. The last section in our Award Guide, "Making Ends Meet", provides a worksheet students can use for this purpose.
- What about scholarships?
  • Most UW-Madison scholarships are offered by a specific campus school or college within the University. Each school and college maintains its own scholarships and awards them to students according to listed criteria. Additional campus-wide scholarships are open to any admitted or enrolled student.

    For more information about these scholarships see Scholarships@UW-Madison.

    All students are assigned a primary school or college based on their selected major(s). Undecided students are assigned to the College of Letters and Science. For a list of campus majors and the school or college with which each is associated, click here: Scholarships are awarded to recognize the outstanding academic work of current and future UW-Madison students. Eligibility criteria will vary, even within individual schools and colleges. While not the only factor, financial need is often considered in the selection process.

    Pay particular attention to submission deadlines, as they vary by school and college. There is no single date when all scholarships are awarded. Recipients will be notified when final decisions have been made.

  • Information on non-University scholarships that are awarded on the basis of special skills, community activities or other criteria is available at local libraries and on the Web. High school guidance counselors are excellent sources of information about these kinds of awards. Sources for these non-University scholarships may include civic or church groups, labor unions, PTA's, or parents' employers. Information on these and other types of scholarships is on the above website and on non-UW websites such as and
- What are the total costs?
  • Although tuition charges are the same for all full-time students depending on their residency and classification, the other costs in a student’s budget will depend on many factors. You can view available tuition rates at the Office of Registrar's site.
  • If you want an ESTIMATE of your student’s total costs for nine months, click here.
- What forms are needed to apply for financial aid and is there a deadline?
  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It can be completed online at .
  • If you (parents) have provided an email address on the electronic FAFSA, we will notify you, along with your student, when we receive the FAFSA results. We will also tell you, at that time, if we need any other forms from you. For some families, we will request prior year tax return transcripts and other forms.
  • Once we begin processing the information you have provided, we may have other questions and will contact you separately, by mail.
  • There is no deadline to apply for aid. However keep in mind that tuition is due at the beginning of each semester. If you want aid in time for that, you want to have ALL forms into our office at least a month before the tuition due date to allow for processing time. Also, federal regulations require that all aid offered to students must be accepted before the last day of classes or we will be unable to process it.
- What if our family circumstances change after we file the financial aid forms?

You may appeal for reconsideration of the student's aid eligibility. Appeals are usually successful only if a family's income or expense information changes from the information originally submitted for the school year. To appeal write a letter to our office explaining the change in circumstances and providing appropriate details.

- What if we have questions about our tuition bill?

Tuition bills are produced by the Bursar’s Office; any financial aid that has been accepted by the student will be reflected on the bill either as anticipated aid (if the funds are not yet available) or as a credit. If your student’s financial aid is not reflected on the bill, you should contact our office. If you have questions regarding specific tuition charges, the availability of bills, or refunds, contact the Bursar’s Office at 608-262-3611.

- When can my student be considered independent for aid purposes?

Federal regulations for independent status for financial aid purposes do not mirror Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations for dependents on your tax return. It doesn't matter whether or not you claim your student on your tax return. Generally, if your student is an undergraduate under the age of 24, the student will be considered dependent for aid purposes and will be required to supply parent data on the FAFSA.

- When is financial aid available to students?

Federal regulations prohibit us from disbursing funds to a student’s account any earlier than 10 days before the start of classes each term (during summer terms, funds are not disbursed any earlier than 5 days before the start of the session). Once aid is disbursed to the account, it will pay any tuition charges. Tuition is paid each term; likewise, half of the student’s financial aid is available each term. Any excess will be mailed to the student at his/her mailing address to be used for other educational expenses such as books, rent, food, etc.

- Will verification of tax or other documents result in a change to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

If there are conflicts between what was reported on the FAFSA and what is reported on your documents there could be a change to the EFC. We also have the authority to use Professional Judgment on a case by case basis to adjust a student's cost of attendance or the data used to calculate the EFC. This adjustment is valid only at the school making it. Common examples of special circumstances are unusually high medical or dental expenses, child care costs, housing status resulting in homeless youth, recent unemployment of a family member, and removing net operating losses, or other changes in the family's income or assets. Use of professional judgment is neither limited to nor required for the situations mentioned.