With all of the options available in financial aid, your first question is bound to be, “Where do I start?” The answer is complete a FAFSA. As soon as possible after January 1 complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. A step-by-step guide to help you with your FAFSA, is available to help.
Once this is complete, your FAFSA will be reviewed and you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) – the results of your FAFSA application. This will arrive by email, unless none is given, then it will come in the mail in about 7-10 days. At the same time UW-Madison will receive your FAFSA data, and begin the process of matching you to various types of financial aid. This aid package typically takes about 2-4 weeks and begins awarding in late March.
Once an aid package, made up of the various combinations of options listed below, is awarded to you via your student center, you have 60 days to accept it. All aid will be disbursed approximately 10 days prior to the first day of class each semester. Remember, financial aid is offered annually, and each year you must reapply to be eligible!
Within your financial aid package could be any or all of the following types of aid:
- Grants – These limited funds can come from Federal, State, and university funds. They are considered “free money” as they are based on financial need. Grants are not taxable, and need not be repaid.
- Scholarships – There are many scholarship opportunities available. To be considered for scholarships, students must apply online at Scholarships@UW-Madison. With some variation due to different college awarding schedules, the scholarship applications open in early November, and close in early February.
- Loans – Unlike grants, loans are available from many sources, but must be repaid upon graduation. Each loan has its own specific conditions, and application procedures vary for each program.
- Federal Work Study – This federally subsidized program provides jobs to students based on financial need. These jobs are different than part-time jobs available on campus – students must answer “yes” to work study on their FAFSA application.
All of these options and the overall financial aid process are available on the Office of Student Financial Aid web site.