Paying for College
College is an important investment and a decision we know you don’t take lightly. Part of the decision-making process includes a vitally important conversation – how to pay for college. We know it can be a confusing topic but we’re here to help you sort it all out. Explore below to learn about the types of financial aid available and find ways to make UWRF an affordable investment!
Types of Financial Aid
There are several options available to help you finance your college degree. Let’s start by breaking down the basics.
Scholarships are financial awards that don’t have to be repaid. Scholarships are awarded from a variety of sources, including internal UWRF scholarships and outside sources, and can range from small stipends to full-tuition awards. Some are merit-based, others can be need-based and qualifications vary for individual scholarships.
Grants are need-based awards considered to be gift aid so they don’t need to repaid. When you apply for financial aid, you’re considered for all federal and state grants.
Several loan programs exist and are available to students. Some programs are need-based and are federally funded, while others are available regardless of need.
UWRF offers two kinds of on-campus student employment: Federal Work Study and Student Assistance. Federal Work Study positions are federally-funded positions and eligibility is determined by financial need. (This eligibility is determined by the FAFSA so it’s important to do your FAFSA early!) Student Assistance positions are on-campus jobs that are university-funded and non-federal, so they’re open to all students regardless of financial need.
New for Fall 2023: Wisconsin Tuition Promise
Beginning Fall 2023, qualified Wisconsin residents will be eligible for the Wisconsin Tuition Promise, a new initiative to ensure underserved Wisconsin students can attend any UW System university without paying tuition or fees. The Wisconsin Tuition Promise will provide up to four years of tuition and fee funding for students coming from families earning less than $62,000 annually and enrolling at UWRF. The program would be structured to provide “last dollar” financial support after federal and state grant aid is accounted for; as a result, Tuition Promise awards will vary. Learn more about the program and eligibility requirements at uwrf.edu/paying-for-college/wisconsin-tuition-promise.
The FAFSA: What You Need to Know
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important part of your higher education journey and it might even mean free money to cover your college costs.
Mark your calendar! The FAFSA filing period for the 2023-24 academic year begins Saturday, Oct. 1.
How to Apply
We get it! The financial aid process can seem a little overwhelming at first, but we’ve broken it down step-by-step to help guide you through the process. The keys to success? Reading each step carefully, paying close attention to deadlines and not being afraid to reach out and ask questions – we’re here to help!
UWRF offers scholarships that you can apply for annually. These scholarships are funded by the UW-River Falls Foundation through the generous support of donors. Over $900,000 is awarded annually via more than 800 scholarships. For more information on how to apply, click here.
In addition to UWRF scholarships, we’ve compiled a list of outside scholarships you may be eligible for. A wide variety of organizations offer scholarships, ranging from large corporations to small non-profits. Your high school guidance counselor and local library are also excellent resources for finding scholarships.
If you’re interested in receiving federal or state financial aid, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available online beginning October 1 each year and must be completed every academic year. Complete your FAFSA as early as possible so that your aid is packaged in time for the start of the fall semester and so that all aid types you may qualify for are still available.
For faster processing, apply for an FSA ID to electronically sign the FAFSA. Once you’ve filed your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor. If you’ve provided an email address, you’ll receive the SAR via email. Retain this document for your records. Do NOT submit your SAR to the UWRF Financial Aid office unless specifically requested to do so.
Prospective Students: If you’d like to get an early estimate of your financial aid eligibility, complete our Net Price Calculator. Keep in mind that the calculator is purely an estimate and your real financial aid award may differ from the results.
For more information on completing the FAFSA, please see ‘Filling out the FAFSA Form.’
Per federal regulations, the U.S. Department of Education can select your FAFSA for a verification process. If selected, the Financial Aid Office will send you an email notifying you that additional information is needed. You can view the information requested in your eSIS ‘To Do List.’ You can download any necessary financial aid forms on your To Do List from our ‘Submit Verification Documents’ page, which provides additional information on the verification and submission process. Verification must be completed before your federal financial aid will be awarded.
Once you’ve completed your FAFSA (and any additional verification, if applicable), you’ll receive your financial aid award details via email. You can also view this information in eSIS, under “View Financial Aid.”
Grants are gift-based aid that don’t need to be repaid and are accepted on your behalf.
Work Study and loans are self-help aid. This means you’ll need to accept them if you decide you want to use these funds. Your aid package is likely to include a loan. If it does, carefully consider the amount of the loan you wish to accept. You can reduce or completely decline the loan if you wish to finance your education without it.
You are responsible for reviewing your options and meeting deadlines. Carefully review the Award Guide and complete all required actions to receive your financial aid. Click here for more information on viewing and accepting your aid.
Your enrollment status is the number of credits you are registered for. If you are NOT yet registered for classes, your financial aid is based on full-time enrollment status by default. If you plan to be less than full-time, contact the Financial Aid Office. Your award amounts aren’t final and won’t disburse until your actual enrollment status is confirmed. It’s your responsibility to verify that your class schedule is correct by the fifth day of class each semester. If you add or drop a class after the fifth day, your financial aid will not be reevaluated after the fifth day. Please see Payments and Disbursements for more details.
If you’re a Minnesota resident, don’t miss this step! Wisconsin and Minnesota have an agreement that allows Minnesota residents to pay a tuition rate comparable to what is charged at a similar Minnesota school. It can take up to six weeks for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education to process the reciprocity application, so be sure to submit your request as soon as possible. Apply here.
Federal regulations require that we consider all outside resources that you receive to finance your education, including grants, scholarships and other financial assistance. Your eligibility for federal and state funding may change if you receive any outside funding like grants, scholarships, DVR assistance, etc. You must notify us of any such outside resources as soon as possible so we can make any necessary adjustments to your award. Use the Outside Resource Notification form to notify us.
If you’re borrowing a Federal Stafford Loan for the first time as a UWRF student, you must complete additional steps before your loan(s) will be processed and disbursed to the UWRF Billing Office. You must complete Entrance Loan Counseling and sign the Master Promissory Note. Check out Processing Your Loans for more information on how to complete these additional steps.
If additional aid is needed above and beyond your federal and state financial aid, you can consider additional loans. For more information, visit Personal Loans for information on SELF Loans (Minnesota residents) and Private/Alternative Loans or visit Parent PLUS Loans to find information on parent loans.
Financial aid begins disbursing to your student account approximately one week before the beginning of each semester. The sixth day of each semester is called the Financial Census Date and is a snapshot of your enrollment at the beginning of that day. Your disbursement, as well as your Pell eligibility, are based upon your enrollment at the census date, regardless of your enrollment before or after that snapshot. If you receive financial aid, it’s critical that your financial aid is complete and that you’ve finalized any course adds or drops before that date.
Financial aid awards are usually divided into two equal payments for fall and spring semesters. You’ll need to become familiar with your eSIS account so you can ensure that all funds disburse to your billing account. It’s your responsibility to monitor your account and ensure that your bill has been paid or payment arrangements have been made with the Billing Office. Closely monitor the Billing Statement, Pending Aid and View Financial Aid sections of your eSIS account and contact the Financial Aid Office if your aid doesn’t disburse as anticipated.
Financial aid will be disbursed to your UWRF billing account to pay your tuition, fees, housing, dining or other charges billed to you. If your financial aid and/or payments received exceed the amount of your semester bill, a refund of the excess amount will be processed. To receive any applicable refunds, you must sign up for Direct Deposit through your eSIS account. For more information, click here. If you don’t have a bank account available for direct deposit or if you have questions, contact the Student Billing Office at 715-425-3145.
Are you a transfer student? If you’ve already completed a FAFSA for the current academic year, you don’t need to complete it again. Instead, log in to your FAFSA account and find the “School Selection” section. Click “Add More Schools” and use UWRF’s school code (003923). Financial aid doesn’t automatically transfer from one school to the next.
We understand that there is a lot of information to digest surrounding financial aid! We’ve compiled some resources to help you navigate the process, answer questions and more. If you’d like to get in touch, reach out – we’re here to help!
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