Frequently Asked Questions
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money made available through a variety of funding sources to assist students in paying for the cost of higher education. Financial aid funding comes from federal, state, institutional, and private organizations. Aid types include grants, scholarships, Work Study, student loans, and parent loans. Most of the government sponsored financial aid programs are based on demonstrated financial need. Many institutional and private aid programs such as scholarships are based on academic achievement rather than financial need. Federal Direct Loans are not based on financial need. Student eligibility for most of these types of financial aid at Western is determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process.
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students must file a FAFSA to be considered for most types of financial aid. By completing the FAFSA your eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid is determined (state and institutional aid for WA State residents). You can submit the FAFSA online at studentaid.gov. Make sure when filing to include Western's school code 003802.
All FAFSA applicants are encouraged to review their FAFSA data after submission. If an error is noted, contact the Financial Aid Department to discuss how to make a correction to your information.
What is the WASFA?
The WASFA, Washington Application for State Financial Aid, is a state financial aid application for undocumented individuals.
The WASFA should be submitted by resident students who are ineligible to apply for FAFSA due to citizenship or immigration status.
To be considered a resident, students must meet all of the following requirements:
- Earn a high school diploma, GED, or diploma equivalent before their first term at the college determining residency.
- Maintain a primary residence in Washington for at least 12 consecutive months immediately before their first term at the college determining residency.
- Sign an affidavit saying they meet the above requirements and that they will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States as soon as they are eligible to apply. And, that they are willing to engage in activities designed to prepare them for citizenship, including citizenship or civics review courses
What does the priority deadline mean?
The priority deadline is the date students must file their FAFSA to receive priority consideration for limited types of need based aid. Priority funding may include State, Federal and Western grants as well as Work Study funds. You may contact our office to verify the date the Federal Processor received your FAFSA.
For WWU, the priority deadline is January 31, of every year. The 2024-2025 FAFSA Priority Filing Deadline is now extended to April 1, 2024.
Is federal Verification required and how do I complete the process?
Verification is the process that schools use to confirm that your FAFSA information is accurate. The verification process is a federal regulation and must be completed in order for a student to receive federal aid and most other types of financial aid.
What is the definition of an academic year for an undergraduate?
Western Washington University defines an academic year as three quarters with each quarter consisting of 10-11 weeks, comprising an academic year of at least 30 weeks during which a full-time undergraduate student would complete 45 credit hours to make regular academic progress toward a four-year baccalaureate degree. The minimum number of credit hours required to receive financial aid on a fulltime basis for undergraduates is 12 credit hours per quarter.
What is an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) or SAI (Student Aid Index) and what does it mean?
The EFC is an index value that determines your federal and state financial aid eligibility.
Beginning with the 2024-2025 aid year the term EFC will no longer be used and instead the term SAI (Student Aid Index) will be used. The SAI continues to be an index value that determines federal and state financial aid eligibility. The overall federal methodology that is used to calculate the SAI has changed along with FASFA simplification.
What determines independent student status?
Dependent students must include parent information on the FAFSA. Independent students do not include parent information on the FAFSA. In general, for financial aid purposes, the federal government considers you a dependent of your parents unless you are at least 24 yrs old before January 1st of the aid year, you are a graduate student, you have legal dependents, such as children, you are married when you file the FAFSA, you are an orphan or ward of the court or you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. As a dependent student, federal regulations require that your parent's financial information be reported on the FAFSA, except in unusual circumstances. You may discuss your unusual and unique circumstances with a financial aid counselor to determine if your dependency status is affected.
We recommend that you review the Dependency Override page of the financial aid website if you have any further questions.
When will I receive a financial aid offer (new and returning students)?
Students must be officially admitted (matriculated) as a new or returning student in order for their financial aid application to be processed.
Students are ineligible to receive financial aid, including student loans, until they are admitted into a degree seeking program or an approved certificate program.
- Returning students without any financial aid requirements or review items are generally notified of their financial aid offer mid-late summer. Students will receive an email to their WWWU email with instructions on how to view their offer in Web4U.
- New students (starting fall quarter) will begin receiving Estimate Aid Offers on a rolling two-week timeline based on the date of admission in spring. The aid offer will be able to be viewed in the Web4U student portal and a paper offer will also be sent by mail to the address on file with the Admissions Office. Students may contact the Admissions Office to check on the status of their admission to Western by phone at 360-650-3440 or by email at email@example.com. Additional information for New Students.
- All students should monitor their WWU email for any about requirements or requests for additional information that may be required to finalize their eligibility.
- Requirements and financial aid status can be viewed in Web4U for admitted and confirmed students at Financial Aid>Eligibility>Student Requirements OR Financial Aid > Financial Aid Status >(select the aid year)>"You have active messages."
Do I need to report untaxed living expenses received as a member of the military or clergy on the FAFSA?
Must students and parents report the amount of untaxed housing, food, and other living allowances they receive as members of the military, clergy, or others receiving untaxed income?
Yes, untaxed money received to pay for rent or the free use of a house or apartment must be reported as untaxed income. Untaxed income includes the basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE), and Travel Lodging Allowance (TLA). Military members can determine their annual untaxed benefit information on the December Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).
EXCEPTION: do not report the value of on-base housing or the basic allowance for housing (BAH) for students or parents who are in the military.
I am interested in being considered a resident. What do I need to do?
Residency status is determined through your Admissions process. If you wish to have your residency status re-evaluated, you must contact the Registrar’s Office. Information about the residency process is available on the Registrar’s website
Why am I being asked for my high school transcript and what if I didn’t receive a diploma or GED?
If you are transferring to Western with fewer than 72 college credits that apply to a WWU degree or certificate program, you must provide documentation of high school completion or its equivalent to the Admissions Office. Federal financial aid regulations require that students demonstrate that they are qualified to study at the postsecondary level by providing appropriate documentation, generally a copy of a high school diploma or official high school transcript.
For more information about acceptable documentation, please contact the Admissions Office and ask to speak with a credit evaluator at (360) 650-3440 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I find out about Work Study or scholarships?
Work Study is provided through the financial aid offer process by submitting a FAFSA or WASFA. If a student was not awarded Work Study but is interested, they may contact the Student Employment Center to discuss eligibility requirements. The Student Employment Center also offers many non-Work Study on or off campus jobs. Work Study allows students to earn money by working a part-time job, usually at Western or at a nonprofit organization, to use towards their educational expenses. For more information, contact the Student Employment Center.
The WWU Scholarship Center is available to assist students and their families as they search and apply for scholarships. The awarding of a scholarship represents not only a significant source of financial assistance, but recognition of your special achievements and an investment in your potential. For more information contact the Scholarship Center.
How can I find part-time student employment while attending Western?
The Student Employment Center is a free resource for Western students seeking part-time employment to help pay the high costs of college, offering job listings for on and off campus employment in both Work Study and non-Work Study positions. Volunteer and community service opportunities are also posted. The Student Employment Center strives to provide students with the opportunity to gain experience, explore career options, and to fund their education. For more information, contact the Student Employment Center or browse their jobs online.
How do I review financial aid requirements?
Students are notified of their financial aid requirements via their email (admissions email for new students and official WWU Email once confirmed at WWU). Requirements can be viewed at any time by logging into the student portal, Web4U, and following this click path: Financial Aid & Scholarships→Financial Aid and Scholarships→Eligibility→Student Requirements.
For any other messages that may be associated with requirements, students can check Active Messages using the click path: Financial Aid & Scholarships→Financial Aid and Scholarships→Financial Aid Status→(select the appropriate aid year)→"You have active messages."
For assistance with any messages or requirements contact the Financial Aid Department. Any required documents may be submitted using the Secure Document Uploader, email, in person, mail or fax.
What kinds of student loans are available?
Federal Direct Loans are offered to students who are eligible to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Any student who has submitted a FAFSA and has completed all the requirements associated with their financial aid application may be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan. Students will be offered either a subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan depending on their eligibility. See more information about federal student loans.
Parents of dependent students may also wish to borrow a Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) to assist in funding the student's educational costs. See more information about Federal Direct PLUS Loans.
Student or parent borrowers may also wish to borrow a private educational loan to assist with educational costs. Information about the private loan process as well as a comparison chart for federal financial aid vs. private loans is available. See more information about exploring private educational loans. Students are not obligated to use the lenders referenced through the online tool FASTChoice; rather, it is a listing of the lenders we typically work with.
What is a subsidized loan?
A Federal Direct Subsidized loan is offered on the basis of financial need. The federal government pays, or subsidizes, the interest while a student is attending school half-time or more. Students will not be charged interest on a subsidized loan during the grace period; they have until after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before they must begin making payments.
More information about the federal student loan grace period can be viewed at studentaid.gov under the Student Loan Repayment section.
What is an unsubsidized loan?
A Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is a non-need based loan. Borrowers are charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is repaid in full.
If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).
Borrowers are encouraged to make payments on the interest even while their loans are in deferment.
Students do not have to begin repayment on their loans until after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. More information about the federal student loan grace period can be viewed at studentaid.gov under the Student Loan Repayment section.
Why am I being asked to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for my federal student loan?
The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s).
You may receive more than one loan under an MPN over a period of up to 10 years to pay for your or your child’s educational costs, as long as the school is authorized to use the MPN in this way and chooses to do so.
Borrowers must complete the MPN at studentaid.gov in order for their federal student loans to disburse (and Entrance Counseling for some federal student loans).
If my class level changes during the academic year, am I eligible for more federal loans?
Federal student loans are offered based on dependency status as determined by the FAFSA and class level.
If you have increased your class level during the academic year, you may be eligible to request an increase to your federal loan eligibility. See more information about annual federal direct loan limits. You may submit the Class Level Revision form to request an increase in your loan eligibility or to update your Subsidized Loan eligibility.
What are emergency loans?
WWU offers an emergency loan program that is available in 30, 60, or 90-day repayment periods for a $5 fee to assist students with occasional cash flow emergencies. The loan will not pay charges on the Western Account Online, and borrowers must not have a past-due balance on their account.
Loan applications are reviewed to determine the applicant’s ability to repay the loan. Applications may be denied when loan repayment is in question, circumstances do not appear urgent, or the applicant appears to be over-reliant on the emergency loan program. The application is available online on the Financial Aid Website under Forms & Resources > Emergency Loans.
Can I reduce or cancel accepted loans or reinstated previously declined loans?
Any changes to an undisbursed loan is considered a revision. Undisbursed loans may be reduced or canceled and previously declined loans can generally be reinstated. To reduce or cancel an undisbursed loan, submit a revision form available on the forms page.
Revisions may take up to 2-4 weeks depending on the time of the year that the request is made. When complete, an email will be sent to your WWU email and you can view the updated information in Web4U.
For previously disbursed loans that you wish to return, you may use the Return of Disbursed Federal Loan funds form available on the Student Business Office website.
How will I know how much my student loan monthly payments will be once I graduate?
Borrowers are encouraged to manage borrowing by using some of the following tools available to them.
Students can view an estimate of their monthly payment for existing debt and existing debt in addition to their current year offered and accepted loans by logging into Web4U-->Financial Aid-->Loan Notification. An estimate of 10-year total payments to pay off loans is also included.
Borrowers may determine who their loan servicer is (the company that will manage payments and repayment plans) by logging onto studentaid.gov with their FSA ID. Once logged in, borrowers will see "My Aid" on the Account Dashboard. Select "View Details" to view the loan information including repayment options and consolidation information on the right hand side as well as your loan servicer and current loan status, which can be found by scrolling down to the "Loan Breakdown."
At studentaid.gov you may view important information about avoiding default or qualifying for various federal loan forgiveness plans by going to "Loan Forgiveness or Loan Repayment."
Satisfactory Academic Progress
I am on Satisfactory Academic Progress probation. What does that mean?
If you are on probation for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), you must meet all SAP requirements during the warning quarter or you will be placed on financial aid suspension. Financial aid suspension is an aid-ineligible status whereby aid for future quarters is canceled and processing to calculate future aid eligibility is placed on hold until eligibility is regained. The academic progress of all financial aid recipients is measured on a quarterly basis. For more information referencing Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
I received a warning or suspension notice for Satisfactory Academic Progress. What does that mean?
At the end of each quarter, the status of each financial aid applicant is monitored for Satisfactory Academic Progress. More information about the areas that are monitored and the requirements associated with each area is available by viewing the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. If you have additional questions about your status, please contact our office to discuss your questions.
Where can I find out about on/off campus or community resources?
How can I ensure that I am using a legitimate site or email?
See Scams and Phishing.
If there has been a change in financial circumstances, how can my financial aid eligibility be recalculated?
To document changes in financial circumstances and request a re-evaluation of financial aid eligibility due to loss of income, benefits, change in marital status or extenuating medical bills, please contact the Financial Aid Department to discuss relevant documentation or forms that may be submitted. Not all re-evaluations will result in a change in a student’s eligibility. For other unique financial circumstances, contact our office to discuss how documenting these may impact financial aid eligibility.
Western Online Self-Paced Courses
See the Self-Paced Coursework page for more details.
How is my financial aid affected if I enroll in self-paced Western Online courses?
Self-paced courses are available through the Extended Education Western Online program. These courses are listed in the WWU Catalog and are designed by faculty members to provide students an opportunity to complete classes at home.
Financial aid for self-paced coursework has two important limitations: Completion Time and Enrollment Level.
Completion Time: Review the FAQ How long do I have to complete a self-paced course to understand how a self-paced course may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress.
Enrollment Level: See the Self Paced Coursework page for further information about how a mix of self-paced coursework and main campus coursework OR enrollment in only self-paced coursework may impact financial aid eligibility.
Can my financial aid pay for a self-paced course?
Yes, under certain circumstances.
1. You must be eligible for financial aid by being an admitted (matriculated student at WWU) having a valid FAFSA on file, meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards, etc.
2. You must meet enrollment level requirements. The amount of self-paced credits counted toward a student’s enrollment level cannot be more than the number of credit hours of regular coursework in which the student is enrolled. Exception: if the student is taking at least a half-time load of self-paced courses, the student is considered to have at least a half-time enrollment. For example, fulltime enrollment (12 or more credits for undergraduates) requires at least six credits of regular coursework. The remaining six credits can be self-paced credits. An enrollment of two regular credits and four self-paced credits gives a less than half-time enrollment (fewer than 6 credits for undergraduate) since only two of the four self-paced credits can be counted. A chart outlining the enrollment level requirements is available on our website.
Contact Financial Aid at 360.650.3470 if you plan to enroll in self-paced coursework to avoid unintended aid eligibility consequences.
How long do I have to complete a self-paced course?
Although students have up to 6 months to complete a self-paced course for purposes of posting a grade, students planning to receive financial aid for self-paced coursework or at any time in the future MUST complete the course during the quarter it was registered for. If the self-paced course is not completed within the quarter it was registered for, future financial aid eligibility could be jeopardized, and it may create a financial aid repayment circumstance. Contact Financial Aid at 360.650.3470 if you plan to enroll in self-paced coursework to avoid unintended aid eligibility consequences.
Will my financial aid automatically be applied to my self-paced course tuition from my student account?
Financial aid will apply to self-paced course tuition just as it does to regular course tuition. If you register for a self-paced course after financial aid has paid out for the quarter, you will need to pay the tuition yourself.
If I receive financial aid, how do I register for a self-paced course?
Follow these steps:
- Determine your enrollment level based on your expected regular and self-paced course enrollment. Review our Self-Paced Coursework page to estimate your expected enrollment level given your mix of regular and self-paced courses.
- Contact the Financial Aid Department to verify how your financial aid status will be affected with the addition of self-paced courses to your credit load.
- Visit the Western Online website for registration information, deadlines, and tuition.
Important Note: Financial aid will not disburse until you are registered for the required number of credits for the enrollment level on which your financial aid is based.