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At Western, we encourage every student to apply for Financial Aid FIRST. Financial aid is the best, most cost-efficient way to pay for college. Everyone qualifies for some type of aid. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of a diverse and talented campus community by providing excellent customer service, in an accurate and timely manner, through the use of advanced technology and knowledgeable staff.
Financial aid comes in several forms. Your aid package may include a grant, which is “free money” you don’t have to repay. It can also include work-study and federal student loans. Federal student loans offer the lowest interest rates and allow you to defer repayment. Your parents can also help with expenses by applying for a Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students, or PLUS. This loan is another type of financial aid.
The information in this section is based upon the 2009-10 award year criteria. Should federal, state, or university regulations and procedures change, Student Financial Aid will be responsible for administering these programs according to updated descriptions and criteria.
To see the most current information about opportunities and application procedures, visit the Student Financial Aid Web site at www.wmich.edu/finaid. If you have questions you may visit Bronco Express in the Bernhard Center, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (269) 387-6000.
Types of Financial Aid
These financial aid programs funded by the federal and state government to provide free assistance to eligible undergraduate students.
Federal Pell Grant - provides grants up to $5,350 per academic year to eligible undergraduate students who have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant - provides grants up to $1,200 per academic year to eligible, undergraduate students who have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Michigan Educational Opportunity Grant - provides grants up to $1,000 per academic year to eligible undergraduate students who are Michigan residents and who have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Michigan Adult Part Time Grant - provides grants up to $600 per academic year to eligible, undergraduate students who are Michigan residents, self-supporting, enrolled part-time. Recipients are limited to two years of eligibility.
Michigan Competitive Scholarship - based on financial need and a student’s composite ACT score. Other scholarships, grants and resources a student receives can reduce or eliminate a student’s eligibility for the scholarship. The scholarship provides up to $1,300 per academic year to eligible, undergraduate students who are Michigan residents and have not obtained a bachelor’s degree. Recipients are limited to ten semesters of eligibility that must be used within 10 years of their high school graduation.
The Western Edge Retention Scholarship - available to all freshmen and transfer students who complete their first year with a 3.0 WMU GPA or better, and have earned at least 30 credit hours at Western Michigan University during this first year. Students who qualify will have the $500 posted to their student accounts when they return the following fall semester.
For transfer students who begin in the spring semester, the $500 retention scholarship will be credited to their account the following spring semester.
Dual enrollment, advanced placement, and/or international baccalaureate course work are not counted toward the fulfillment of the 30 credits of academic course work required to qualify for the retention scholarship. Dual enrollment credit, taken at Western Michigan University, however, does count toward the 30 credits.
The Retention Scholarship is a form of financial aid and, as such, may affect a student’s overall aid package from the University. This is most likely the case when a student’s need-based grants already exceed the entire cost of attendance at Western Michigan University.
WMU Scholarships for First-Time Students - awarded at the time of admission, Scholarships are based on full-time enrollment (12+ credit hours per semester) and are awarded for fall and spring semesters for eight consecutive semesters, or until graduate requirements are met – whichever occurs first. For information and questions regarding these scholarships, please contact the Office of Admissions at (269) 387-2000, or visit our Web site: www.wmich.edu/finaid/Publication/scholarships/Freshmen.
WMU Scholarships for Michigan Community College Transfer Students - There are a variety of scholarship opportunities available to students who are transferring to WMU. For complete and up-to-date details, visit our Web site: www.wmich.edu/finaid/Publication/scholarships/MichiganCommunityCollegeTransferStudents.html.
WMU Scholarships for Currently Enrolled Students - For complete and up-to-date information about scholarship opportunities, please visit our Web site: www.wmich.edu/finaid/3-scholarships/scholarships.html.
College work-study is a need-based financial aid program funded by the Federal Government, the State of Michigan and Western Michigan University. It is awarded to eligible students who are enrolled at least half-time during the period of their employment. Unlike grants and scholarships, work-study awards are earned and paid through the payroll process in the form of a bi-weekly paycheck. Work-study awards and amounts are subject to eligibility requirements and fund availability. Early application is very important. For more information, visit the work study Web site: www.wmich.edu/finaid/work-study.
These financial aid programs designed to assist students, allowing them to borrow at a lower interest rate with opportunities to defer principal payments and possibly interest payments until after enrollments ends.
Federal Perkins Loan - allows undergraduate and graduate students with unmet need to borrow funds on an annual basis with an interest rate of 5.0 percent. The annual amount ranges up to $5,500 per academic year for undergraduate students and $8,000 per year for graduate students. Interest and principal payments are deferred as long as a student is enrolled at least half-time. Repayment of the loan plus interest begins nine months after the student ceases to be enrolled a least half-time.
Federal Direct Subsidized (FDS) Loan - allows undergraduate and graduate students with financial need to borrow funds on an annual basis with a fixed interest rate of 5.6 percent for undergraduates and 6.8 percent for graduates. The annual amount is dependent upon cost of attendance, expected family contribution, grade level, and other resources received. Interest and principal payments are deferred as long as a student is enrolled at least half-time. Borrowers pay an origination fee that is deducted from each disbursement. Repayment of the loan plus interest begins six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized (FDU) Loan - based on need and allows undergraduate and graduate students to borrow funds on an annual basis with a fixed interest rate of 6.8 percent. The annual amount is dependent upon cost of attendance, grade level, and other resources received. Interest accrues while the student is enrolled in school and the student has the option of paying the interest payments or letting the interest payments be added to the loan amount. Loan principal payments are deferred as long as a student is enrolled at least half-time. Borrowers pay an origination fee that is deducted from each disbursement. Repayment of the loan plus interest begins six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS) - based on need and allows parents of dependent students to borrow funds on an annual basis with a fixed interest rate of 7.9 percent. The annual amount is dependent upon cost of attendance and other resources received. Repayment of interest and principal payments are due within 60 days of the last disbursement of the loan. Deferment options are available by contacting the Direct Loan servicer. Borrowers pay an origination fee that is deducted from each disbursement. Borrowers must pass a credit check. Dependent students whose parents have been denied a PLUS loan due to an adverse credit history may borrow additional FDU loan funds.
Private Alternative Loans - available through a variety of private loan programs. Western recommends three alternative lenders who have agreed to offer our students better private rates and benefits. For more information about our recommended alternative leaders, visit the Student Financial Aid Web site: www.wmich.edu/finaid/2-awards/loans.html#alt.
Michigan Promise Scholarship (formerly the Michigan Merit Award) - provides an award of up to $4,000. This scholarship is for high school seniors and eligibility is based in part on the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) scores.. For further details contact the Department of Treasury 1-888-4-Grants or visit their Web site at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid.
On and Off Campus Student Employment - many opportunities exist. The Career and Student Employment Services Office actively recruits both on- and off-campus employment, including community service opportunities. Students may review the jobs listed with the service in Room A-100, Ellsworth Hall or on the Web at http://broncojobs.wmich.edu.
U.S. Armed Forces - offer students a variety of educational assistance programs. Contact your local armed forces recruiter for complete information.
Applying for Financial Aid
The financial aid application process begins when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online each year at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You need to select WMU using our school code, 002230. You also need to acquire a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from www.pin.ed.gov. This PIN serves as your electronic signature and will be used throughout the financial aid process. File your FAFSA as early as January 1. Keep in mind, while there is no cutoff deadline, awards funded by the State of Michigan have a priority deadline on March 1. Other types of aid are awarded until funds are exhausted, so apply as early as possible. returning students should file a Renewal FAFSA each year as well.
The FAFSA gathers information regarding the parents’ and students’ income, assets, and other related information to determine the expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC is used to determine the amount of need-based eligibility for the student based on the cost of attendance (COA). The COA is based on an estimate of tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, transportation, and personal expenses. The amount of need-based aid may also be affected by other financial aid resources. The cost of attendance and a personal budget worksheet can be found on our Web site at www.wmich.edu/finaid/nextsteps.
Along with the FAFSA, other documents and processes may be required before an award notice or payment is processed. Notification of these additional requirements will be emailed to the students through their WMU email address. Students may also check on the status of their financial aid online through GoWMU.
Student Financial Aid automatically considers students for all types of federal, state, and institutional grants, work-study, and loans. Any scholarships, stipends, or other resources will be assessed first before awarding need-based financial aid. Additional eligibility factors will be considered in determining the type and amount of aid programs in the award package.
In general the eligibility factors that are reviewed are citizenship, residency, class and grade level, enrollment hours, semesters of enrollment, degree status, default status, and satisfactory academic standing.
Most financial aid programs require a minimum enrollment equivalent to half time status to be eligible for payment. Awards are initially based on full time enrollment; however, payments to the student’s account will be based on actual enrollment.
Any additional resources, changes to funding or regulations may affect student’s financial aid awards. If the information received affects student’s financial aid awards, a revised award letter will be emailed through the student’s WMU email address.
Financial aid payments are made to a student’s WMU account as early as 10 days before the beginning of the semester. Payments are disbursed based upon the program eligibility requirements, and minimum enrollment requirements. Payments will be applied to a student’s tuition, fees, housing, food, and other authorized charges. Any excess funds remaining will be refunded to students (or parents if requested for the Parent PLUS loan) via direct deposit or a mailed check.
In accordance with federal and state regulations, Student Financial Aid must monitor academic progress towards graduation. Standards of satisfactory academic progress are applied to all students who wish to establish or maintain financial aid eligibility at Western Michigan University, regardless of whether or not they have received financial aid funds in the past. Students must:
- Complete at least 67 percent of attempted hours at WMU.
- Maintain a cumulative grade point average based on the University’s Academic Standards for degree intent.
- Not to exceed 183 total undergraduate credit hours, including hours attempted at Western along with any transfer credit hours based on degree intent.
The standards are established to encourage students to progress toward their educational objective and complete their degree within a reasonable time frame and with the least amount of loan debt. If the standards are not met, students are not eligible for most types of financial aid. Students who lose financial aid eligibility and who have experienced unusual circumstances may submit a written appeal with the documentation to the Student Financial Aid to be considered by an appeal committee.
Withdrawal from Courses
Financial aid recipients considering a partial or complete withdrawal should discuss withdrawal or complete withdrawal plans with a Financial Services Specialist in Student Financial Aid before withdrawal.
Financial aid recipients who drop some classes during the drop/add period (or indicate having never attended some classes) may lose some or all financial aid eligibility. Financial aid recipients who drop all classes prior to the start of the semester (or having never attended any classes) are no longer eligible for financial aid for that semester. All scholarship, grant, and loan payments (and refunds of financial aid) must be returned to Western Michigan University.
A federal financial aid recipient who completely withdraws from all classes after the beginning of the semester will have the amount of federal aid earned up to that point determined by a specific formula. If more federal aid was received than earned, the excess federal aid must be returned. The amount of federal aid earned is determined on a pro-rata basis. That is, if 30 percent of the semester is completed, 30 percent of the federal aid received is earned. Once having completed more than 60 percent of the semester all of the federal aid is earned.
Receipt of Assistantship/Fellowship
An assistantship, or fellowship awarded by a department or college will not be indicated on the financial aid award letter until Student Financial Aid has been notified of the award. If a student has been awarded federal loans, the loans may be reduced when the assistantship, or fellowship (or any other awards) are added to the award file. Even if the loans have been disbursed, they may be reduced at the time Student Financial Aid receives notification of the receipt of additional assistance.
Students need to be admitted to a degree-seeking program to be eligible for most types of financial aid. Students who are admitted to WMU in a non-degree program are not eligible for federal or state financial aid programs but may be eligible for other types of financial aid such as alternative loans.
International students are not eligible for federal or state aid. There may be scholarships or grants available through WMU departments. International students may also be eligible for an alternative loan if a U.S. citizen that is credit-worthy is willing to co-sign the loan.