How to Apply, Step-By-Step


Follow these steps to apply for 2016-2017 Financial Aid.

*For information on Summer 2016 Financial Aid click here.

1. Obtain a FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) at


  • This will allow you to electronically sign your FAFSA and sign into most federal aid websites
  • Keep this number in your records; it will never change.
  • If you are a dependent student, both you and one parent must obtain a FSA ID. Not sure if you'll be dependent?
  • Note:  If you were using a PIN to sign the FAFSA before, you will be prompted to create an FSA ID


2. Complete the FAFSA.


  • As soon as possible after January 1, 2016, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available online at
  • -- The FAFSA requires tax information from 2015; therefore, we encourage you to file federal tax returns as soon as you are able.
  • -- Estimated information can be used, but will require you to update the FAFSA once your taxes are complete.
  • Beginning in February you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval option to link to the IRS and transfer tax return data to your FAFSA. While this can be an easy way to provide accurate tax information on the FAFSA it is voluntary and not available to everyone.
  • -- For availability of IRS Data Retrieval see chart.           
  • -- If you use the IRS Data Retrieval, you may still be required to submit tax return transcripts to our office. You will be notified if additional documents are required.
  • -- If you have questions or need assistance with the FAFSA you should:
  • -- Contact our office or any other aid office at the college/university you plan to attend
  • -- Take a look at our FAFSA Tips
  • UW-Madison's school code is 003895.


3. Receive and Review your Student Aid Report (SAR).


  • A SAR is a summary of your FAFSA and will arrive by e-mail.  If an e-mail was not provided, then you will receive it via post mail.
  • -- If your application is complete, it will also display your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.
  • -- If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but will specify what needs to be done to resolve any issues.
  • Review your SAR for errors and log back into your FAFSA to make corrections.
  • If you have not received a SAR within 7 – 10 days of submitting your FAFSA, log back into your FAFSA or call the Federal Student Aid Info Center at 1-800-433-3243 (TTY line 1-800-730-8913) to verify its status.


4. UW-Madison’s Office of Student Financial Aid receives your FAFSA data.


  • If any additional information or documents are needed, an e-mail will be sent to you the student (and a parent if he/she included an e-mail address on the FAFSA). If no other documentation is required, you will NOT hear from our office until a financial aid package is offered.
  • DO NOT submit tax or other documents unless specifically requested.
  • If tax documents are requested, submit IRS tax return transcripts instead of tax returns (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ). Accessing the tax return transcript is a free service provided by the IRS.  There are three ways to request it:
  • -- Online           
  • -- By calling 1-800-908-9946
  • -- By completing and submitting a 4506T or 4506T-EZ
  • Other documents such as W-2 forms or verification documents may be requested as well.
  • If you have special circumstances that you would like considered as we review your application, please submit that information to our office in writing. More explanation about special circumstances can be found at
  • Review your Application Status in your MyUW Student Center under View Financial Aid.


5. Eligibility is determined and financial aid is awarded.


  • Awarding for the next academic year begins in late March.
  • Aid packages are typically made available about 2 – 4 weeks after all requested forms have been received.
  • You will be sent an email which will give you the instructions for accepting your financial aid in your MyUW Student Center.


6. Respond to the award.


  • You must accept or decline the offered aid in your MyUW Student Center. 
  • We may cancel an aid offer if it is not accepted within 60 days.


7. Aid is disbursed.


  • Financial aid will disburse approximately 10 days prior to the first day of class each semester.
  • You can track which funds have been disbursed into your tuition account by accessing your MyUW Student Center.
  • Direct (ACH) Deposit to personal saving or checking accounts is now available for student refunds and requires enrollment. To enroll please log on to your UW-Madison Student Center and click on "eRefund Management" under My Account. Parent PLUS refunds will continue to be sent via paper check. Click on this link Bursar for more information. 


Important Notes:

  • Financial aid is offered on an annual basis. You must reapply each year!
  • To ensure you receive important email notifications, please add any e-mail addresses to your approved/safe senders list.
  • We send most correspondence to students at their '' email address and/or mailing address.
  • Please make sure you maintain the correct contact information in your MyUW Student Center.