General FAQ 

- Can a student with University Special classification receive financial aid?

In general, Special students are not eligible for financial aid. However, there are exceptions:

  • Special students returning to school for teacher certification (EDCS) will be considered for a Federal Direct Loan (up to $7,500 for dependents and 12,500 for independents) and Federal Work Study.
    • Only courses required for certification are eligible for aid.
    • We will verify that students are enrolled at least half time in required courses before any funds are disbursed.
  • Students taking courses that are designated as pre-requisites for admission into a graduate or professional program (UNRS) will be considered for a Federal Direct Loan (up to $7,500 for dependents and 12,500 for independents) for up to 12 consecutive months only.
    • We will verify that students are enrolled at least half time in the approved pre-requisites before any funds are disbursed.
    • The admitting graduate or professional school, program or department, must provide a letter indicating which courses are required pre-requisites for admission. This letter cannot come from the Adult Career & Special Student Services nor does it guarantee admission.           

Contact our office for any additional questions you may have on the process for receiving aid if you have the EDCS or UNRS classifications.

- Can I receive aid for summer session?

It is possible to receive financial aid for summer sessions. The usual funds available are Federal Direct Loan and Federal Work-Study. More information is available here.

- How could I get a general idea of what I might be eligible for if I apply for financial aid in the future?

We have developed an estimator which will construct a financial aid package based upon information that you provide and the current packaging parameters and funding levels at UW-Madison. The estimator is in English and can be found here.

- How do I get scholarships and if I'm awarded one, where do I send the check?

The best way to start your search for scholarships is through organizations in your local area (e.g., Jaycees, Elks, Rotary Clubs, religious groups). Also, ask your parent or guardian if their employer provides scholarships and grants to their employee’s children for college.

For information on scholarships awarded by UW-Madison, visit Scholarships@UW-Madison. This is not an inclusive list of all UW-Madison scholarships so you should contact individual schools/colleges for more information.

Where to send your scholarship checks:

  • Most scholarship sponsors make out checks to UW-Madison and/or the student to cover expenses such as tuition, room & board, and other expenses. Checks should be sent to the UW-Madison Bursar’s Office (333 East Campus Mall # 10501; Madison, WI 53715-1383; 608-262-3611). The Bursar’s Office has a website that explains how scholarship checks should be sent to UW:
  • If you want scholarship check(s) to pay your UW Housing or private residence hall bill and the check is made out to UW-Madison, your check will need to be sent to the Bursar’s Office. If your tuition has already been paid in full, any scholarship monies that are then applied to your tuition account will be mailed to you as a refund check. You can use the money from the refund check to pay for your housing bill.
- How do I inform you of special circumstances?
  • After completing the FAFSA and submitting it to the federal processor you may notify us at the financial aid office if you have exceptional special circumstances that you believe should be considered.  Follow the directions at the end of this question. Please understand that to ensure fairness and compliance with federal, state and university regulations there are limits to the circumstances we can consider.
  • Special circumstances may include (but are not limited to):
    • Death of a parent/spouse
    • Parent loss of job/income
    • High medical/dental bills not covered by insurance and/or high cost of insurance premiums
    • Reduction or loss of untaxed income such as child support or social security benefits
    • Student loss of income resulting from return to school after ceasing full-time employment
    • Child care costs for student's dependent(s)
  • Circumstances we are not able to consider include (but are not limited to):
    • Car payments
    • Consumer debt
    • High mortgage payments
    • Tuition expenses for parent in college
    • Weddings
  • If your circumstance doesn’t meet the above parameters and you would like information about additional funding sources, please refer to the question in this frequently asked question guide titled: 'I need more money for educational expenses.  Would I qualify for a PLUS loan, a GradPLUS loan or a private loan?
  • To inform us of your special circumstances send a written statement explaining your situation along with supporting documentation to us at: Office of Student Financial Aid, UW-Madison, 333 East Campus Mall (formerly N. Murray St.), Madison, WI 53715; fax it to us at 608/262-9068, or e-mail us at Be sure to include student name and campus ID. Upon review we may find it necessary to request additional information. We will notify you as soon as possible of any change resulting from your special circumstances. Because of funding limits, please be aware that a recalculation of your financial aid eligibility does not guarantee that any additional aid will be offered to you.
- I am an undergrad at UW and will be studying at another university for a term. Can I get aid from UW-Madison for these costs?

In certain cases you can, through the consortium process.

  • A consortium is an agreement between two schools that one school (home school) will provide financial aid while the student temporarily takes classes at another (host school). With a consortium, it is possible to take all your classes at another institution, or you can take some at UW and some at another institution.
  • We will only approve it if you are taking at least six credits at one or the other institution. The exception to this is when you study at Madison Area Technical College (MATC); if you want to take classes there, you must be concurrently enrolled for at least six credits at UW.
  • The host school must be an approved Title IV school, meaning they have a federal Title IV code and can process federal financial aid. We will not approve a consortium if it is offered through a broker or agency who does not work through a Title IV school.
  • There are a number of forms to be completed, so start early. If you are studying abroad through another university, you can get the packet of materials at the Admissions Office or from their website at

If you have any other questions, you should make an appointment with one of our financial aid counselors.

- I am going to transfer to UW-Madison. How do I receive financial aid?

Any aid you receive from your other school will not transfer to UW-Madison. You must apply for aid here. You should go online to your FAFSA, and add UW-Madison as a school using school code 003895. Once you are admitted and we receive your FAFSA, we will contact you, either with an award or a request for additional information. Be aware that some funds may be limited if you are a Spring term transfer because of the late date of your application for financial aid.

- I need more money for educational expenses. Would I qualify for a PLUS loan, a GradPLUS loan or a private loan?
  • If you are a dependent student, your parents can apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan.
    • If they are denied the loan because of the mandatory credit check, you may be eligible for an additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
    • Parents can apply for a Parent PLUS Loan by following these instructions.
  • If you are a graduate or professional student, have completed the FAFSA and have been considered for the maximum Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan, you may want to consider the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan for additional assistance. Call our office at 608 262-4987 for additional information.
  • Another consideration for any student might be a private loan. Private loans are offered through private lenders and are meant to provide additional funds for education only after a student and his/her family has exhausted all other sources of federal and state funding. These loans are not guaranteed by the federal government so terms are set by the individual lending institution and are usually not as favorable as federal loans. These loans require a credit check and most will require a co-signer if the borrower has little or no credit history. You can find more information on these loans here.
- I will be on a UW-Madison sponsored study abroad program. How and when will I receive financial aid?
  • You should be sure to complete your financial aid application well before you leave the country to prevent lengthy delays. Check your financial aid status from My UW at to be sure we have all the forms needed.
  • Summer study abroad programs must be at least half-time to be eligible for financial aid. The summer half-time enrollment chart is available online at
  • If you accept your financial aid award before you leave the U.S. and complete and return promissory notes for loans (if appropriate), financial aid funds will be credited to your tuition account no sooner than 10 days prior to the start date on campus for the applicable fall or spring semester (5 days prior for summer abroad programs.) If your program start date is after the start date on campus, financial aid funds will be disbursed 10 days prior to the later start date. We cannot legally disburse funds sooner than that. Therefore, it is important that you apply for financial aid long before you leave on your abroad program (at least by March 1 for a summer abroad program and by June 1 for an academic year abroad program - or a fall only abroad program; and by October 1 for a spring only abroad program.)
  • Your financial aid funds will be credited to your abroad program cost(s). If you have more than enough aid to cover the program cost(s), you will be mailed a refund check to the address you list as your mailing address. Depending upon the mailing address you use, you may need someone to deposit the money for you into your bank account. You should be sure to make all appropriate arrangements for this before you leave the country.
  • For more information regarding International Academic Programs (IAP) study abroad programs, you may wish to visit the IAP website at The School of Business has information online for study abroad programs they sponsor at
  • Funding study abroad at UW-Madison - listen to a recording of an online session here.

- I'm going to be married soon. When should I complete my FAFSA for the next year?

If you file the FAFSA before you are married, you must report your status as single even if you will be married before or during the school year for which you are applying for aid. If after you have completed the FAFSA you wish to update your marital status please contact our office.  We will evaluate these circumstances on a case by case basis.

- Is financial aid available for international students?

To receive financial aid from UW-Madison, you must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen. Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are:

  • a U.S. permanent resident and you have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I551);
  • a conditional permanent resident (I551-C); or
  • an other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I94) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service showing any one of the following designations:
    • “Refugee,”
    • “Asylum Granted,”
    • “Indefinite Parole” and/or “Humanitarian Parole,” or
    • “Cuban-Haitian Entrant.”

If you are in the U.S. on an F1 or F2 student visa, or a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa, or a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations), you are not a citizen or an eligible noncitizen and cannot receive federal financial aid from the UW-Madison.

If you are not a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, you may be eligible for private loans from lenders. One such resource for international students is the Global Loan. Information about this loan program can be found online at Another resource may be private loans although most private loans require a U.S. citizen cosigner. A link to these loans can be found on our website under Private Loans.

You may also wish to check out the UW-Madison office of International Student Aid website at

- It wasn't my fault that I wasn't enrolled full-time on the first day of classes. Can I appeal the reduction in my Pell Grant?

Federal regulations require a school to take a "snapshot" of a student's enrollment at a predetermined time to measure credit load eligibility for the federal Pell Grant.

  • We run a program at 5:00 p.m. on the first day of classes to check for credit loads. Our research has shown that using the first day of class for this "snapshot" is to the advantage of the majority of UW students.
  • If a student is less than full-time when this program is run, the Pell Grant must be reduced to correspond to the level of enrollment (half-time, three-quarter time)  even if students are on a class waiting list or if circumstances beyond their control caused their less than full-time enrollment.
  • This cannot be appealed, even if it is not the student's fault, although it may be possible for us to increase a student's loan to make up for the Pell reduction.
- My parents are divorced or separated. Which parent's information do I use?
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, you should provide information about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months.
  • If you did not live with one parent more than the other, use the parent that provided more financial support during the last 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.
  • If this parent is remarried as of today, provide information about that parent AND the person whom your parent married (stepparent).
- What are the general eligibility requirements for federal financial aid?

To be considered for any federal aid, you must be enrolled at least half time (6 credits for undergrads, 4 credits for graduates). You must also be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen. For certain types of funds, there may be other requirements. You can check our online Student Award Guide for more detailed information.

- What forms are necessary to apply for aid and will the financial aid office notify me if my file is incomplete?
  • Financial aid is awarded on an annual basis so you must reapply each year. First, file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It can be completed online at anytime after January 1st for the next academic year.  You may want to wait until you have completed your federal tax return because the form asks for tax information.
  • Once we receive your FAFSA results, we will notify you if we need any other forms. We will be requesting prior year federal tax return transcripts from some families, along with other forms.
  • When we begin processing the information you have provided, we may have other questions and will contact you separately by mail.
  • You can check your financial aid status from My UW at
  • We will be sending reminders on a rolling basis to students who still need forms to complete their applications but it is better to monitor one of the above sites to see what is still needed.
- What is loan consolidation?

A consolidation loan can help you simplify loan repayment by allowing you to combine several types of federal student loans with various repayment schedules into one loan with a fixed interest rate. If you have loans with several different lenders, the repayment process is simplified because you will make only one payment to one organization.

  • In most cases students must be out of school to consolidate loans.
  • You can consolidate your loans only one time.

Keep in mind that there may be disadvantages to consolidation.

Study your consolidation options and contact your lending institution for application instructions.

For more information you can go to Loan Consolidation Great Lakes Higher Ed. or

- What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans?
  • A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need as determined by our office. The federal government pays the interest on these loans while students are in school at least half-time and during certain periods, such as deferment. For new loans originated from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014 loan interest begins accruing during the six-month grace period.
  • Unsubsidized loans are awarded regardless of financial need but you will be responsible for the interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You also must apply for federal financial aid to receive this loan.
    For both of these loans you will sign a Master Promissory Note. As long as you stay with the same lender you will not need to sign another note for any subsequent loans for up to 10 years.

The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman of the Department of Education offers a free service to assist students attending college, and to resolve disputes and/or problems associated with federal student loans. For more information you may contact the FSA Student Loan Ombudsman's office at any of the following sites.

Via on-line assistance:

Via e-mail:

Via telephone:

877-557-2575 (toll free)



Via fax:


Via mail:

U.S. Department of Education


FSA Ombudsman


830 First Street, N.E.


Washington, D.C 20202-5144

- What is Work-Study?

Work-Study is a federally funded, need-based program in which the government and the employer share the payroll cost of employing a student. Students must apply for financial aid to be considered.

The dollar amount a student is awarded in Work-Study will NOT be distributed to the student directly nor will it apply toward tuition. Instead, the amount is earned by the student through his/her job.

Our Work-Study Office can assist students in finding a job, but most students find one on their own. The student can search our job center website at for current openings. Once the student is working he/she receive paychecks that will decrease the Work-Study amount set aside for that student (the hourly wage and number of hours worked is worked out with the employer).

One advantage for the student is that work-study income from the previous year is ignored when we calculate a student’s aid eligibility. This sometimes results in a more favorable aid award. Students should NOT begin a work-study job until they’ve been awarded work-study AND have accepted it.

For more Frequently Asked Questions regarding Work-Study check out the Work-Study Frequently Asked Questions Page.

- When is the last possible day for me to apply for financial aid?
  • It is possible to apply for aid anytime during the academic year. However, it can often take in excess of 4 weeks to complete the processing of your application in our office; therefore, it is best to apply as early as possible.
  • It is a federal regulation that we cannot award financial aid after a term has ended so even if you have all your forms in before the end of the term, we may not have enough time to process your file and award you aid before the last day of classes. The same is true for summer.  Once your class has ended, we cannot award you financial aid. In particular for summer, we urge you to have a completed file with our office no later than May 1 to assure that we will have enough time to complete our evaluation and award you before your class ends.
- When will I hear about financial aid and when will it be available?

After we receive all forms in our office, you should receive either an Information Request (if we have questions) or an Award Notification. This should happen 2-4 weeks after we have all your forms.

You can check your status from My UW at To learn if anything is missing: in the Finances section click on 'View Financial Aid' and select the aid year, then click on the Application Status in the upper right corner.

All financial aid is first applied to your tuition account at the Bursar's office. Any excess is refunded to you at your mailing address. The first refunds will begin arriving in the week preceding the start of classes in the academic year and by the start of your first class in the summer. If you have ACCEPTED enough aid to cover your tuition but the aid is not available by the time tuition is due, you will not be assessed a late fee by the Bursar's office. But if your application for aid is not fully processed or you have not accepted sufficient funds to cover what you owe, you are still responsible for on-time tuition payment to avoid a late fee assessment by the Bursar's Office.

- Who is considered independent for financial aid purposes?

The definition of dependent and independent for financial aid purposes is not the same as the IRS definition.  In most cases undergraduates under age 24 are considered dependent.  Graduate and professional students (for example, those in med or law school) are automatically considered independent.  The only undergrads under age 24 who are considered independent are those who are married or have legal depends other than a spouse, veterans or on active duty for other than training purposes, orphans, and in a small number of cases, situations involving foster care, ward of the court status, legal guardianship, and homelessness.  In rare cases a student who does not meet the above criteria might be considered independent if there are unusual circumstances such as abuse or abandonment. 

A parent's unwillingness to contribute to the student's education or to provide income or FAFSA information has no bearing on a student's dependent status, nor does it matter whether a student is claimed or not claimed by the parent as a dependent for tax purpose.  Undergraduates not meeting the above criteria are considered dependent even if they support themselves and receive no financial assistance from parents. Contact the financial aid office with any questions or concerns.

- Will outside aid (scholarships, fellowships, military benefits, graduate assistantships) affect my financial aid?

You are obligated to notify us if at any time during the year you receive any type of financial assistance that you did not originally report to us, or of any outside aid you are receiving that is not listed on your award notice. Do not assume that your scholarship/fellowship/assistantship/VA benefit sponsor automatically informs our office of your outside aid.

Outside aid includes:

  • Scholarships/grants from the State of Wisconsin (eg., TIP, DVR, Academic Excellence)
  • Scholarships from all sources (including those awarded by UW departments and colleges, along with athletic scholarships)
  • Graduate teaching, research, or project assistantships
  • Graduate fellowships
  • Non-resident fee remissions (including those temporarily granted in extreme circumstances by the UW Residence Counselor’s Office)
  • All aid from sources other than our office.

We may need to modify your aid package as a result of your receiving outside aid. We will notify you if this happens.

- 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, or other changes in the family's income or assets. Use of professional judgment is neither limited to nor required for the situations mentioned.
- What are reasons why my aid is not on my tuition and fee bill or why haven't I received my financial aid award offer?
Read the article for possible answers.