Apply for Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility. All students are encouraged to apply at

If at any time during the Financial Aid process you don’t understand your next steps, or if you have general questions, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Completing the FAFSA
Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, the FAFSA will be available as early as October 1 prior to the fall semester, and will use tax information from two years prior (for the 2017-18 year, file October 1, 2016 using tax information from 2015.)

Start by going to If you completed a FAFSA last year, you will need to login using an FSA ID.  If this is your first time, you will be given the opportunity to create an FSA ID once you begin completing the FAFSA. Once you get to the School Selection screen, enter the school code 003896 for UWM.

The FAFSA is free to complete and takes about 30 minutes. You can save an application in progress and finish later. If you need help, you can contact the Financial Aid Office or browse Department of Education resources here

Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool lets you import your tax return information directly from the IRS website to your FAFSA, which makes the filing process easier.  If you are unable to use the IRS DRT, be sure to use the correct federal income tax year while completing your FAFSA.  For the 2017-18 academic year, be sure to use your 2015 federal tax information.

Your FAFSA Results

After you’ve submitted your FAFSA, you can log in to with your FSA ID to check the status. Within 3-10 days of submitting, the Department of Education will send your Student Aid Report, or SAR, to you and the UWM Financial Aid Office.

Since the Financial Aid Office will use your SAR to determine your financial need, you should look it over carefully and check for errors. You can make corrections at

Check your PAWS To Do List and UWM Email Address frequently, because you may have to provide additional information or participate in FAFSA Verification before your award can be processed. Once your information is complete, processing in the Financial Aid Office takes at least 3 to 4 weeks.

Verification is a process that confirms the information you entered on your FAFSA is accurate. Some applications are selected randomly, others because of missing or wrong information.

If you have been selected for Verification, you will receive an email from the Financial Aid Office asking you to complete the items in your PAWS To Do List. It will also be mentioned on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

If your PAWS To Do List includes a request for tax transcripts, you can return to your Student Aid Report at and transfer your tax return information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you aren’t able to use the Tool, you can request an official tax return transcript from the IRS.

Financial Aid Eligibility

It’s important to understand your responsibilities as a student before and after you’ve accepted financial aid. You can review the Financial Aid Student Rights and Responsibilities page online for more information.

Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions about your eligibility.

General Financial Aid Requirements
  • You need to be a current UWM student
  • You need to be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen and have a valid Social Security number
  • If you are a male, ages 18-25, you need to be registered with the Selective Service
  • You cannot be in default on a federal loan

Most aid sources require you to be half-time, which is defined by the Financial Aid Office as six or more credits for undergraduates and four or more credits for graduate students. The Financial Aid Office maintains a complete list of requirements for being offered, receiving, and accepting aid.

Continuing Your Financial Aid Eligibility
Once you receive financial aid, you have to make Satisfactory Academic Progress for all of your college coursework, including transfer credit, repeats, withdrawals, and changed majors.

  • Complete your program within a defined time frame: Undergraduates have 150% of the standard 120 credit time frame (or 180 credits), Graduate students have 200% of their published program credits
  • Make PACE by passing a percentage of credits attempted: Undergraduates must pass two thirds (66.67%), Graduate students must pass half (50%)
  • Maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average or any GPA requirement of your school or college by the time you are a Junior

You can review the Undergraduate and Graduate Satisfactory Academic Progress policies for the full list of requirements. If you’re ever not making Satisfactory Academic Progress, or if you’re getting close to the maximum time frame allowed, the Financial Aid Office will send a notification to your UWM Email Address.

Dropping Classes When Receiving Financial Aid
If you drop individual classes before the Add Deadline, which the Financial Aid Office refers to as the Census Date, some of your financial aid may need to be adjusted to reflect eligibility based on your new enrollment level.

Keep in mind that most financial aid awards require you to maintain half-time enrollment status. The Financial Aid Office defines half-time as six or more credits for undergraduates and four or more credits for graduate students.

All classes you are enrolled in on the Census Date will count as attempted credits whether you pass them or not. To make Satisfactory Academic Progress, undergraduates using financial aid can attempt up to 180 credits. All students are sent an email with details on the importance of the Census Date shortly after each semester begins.

Withdrawal When Receiving Financial Aid
Though your Title IV financial aid is posted to your account at the start of each semester, you earn the funds as you complete the semester. If you drop all of your classes before completing more than 60% of the semester, the amount of aid you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. This is called a “Return to Title IV” calculation and more information regarding the formula for the calculation can be found here. If you received more aid than you earned based on this calculation, the unearned aid must be returned by the school to the funding source. The return of unearned aid may result in a balance owed to the university, as aid that was used to pay for tuition and housing charges has been returned. If you complete more than 60% of the semester then subsequently drop all of your classes you will have earned all of your aid.

The requirement for Title IV Financial Aid program funds when you withdraw are separate from the tuition refund policy that UWM has in place. While completing more than 60% of the semester will allow you to keep all of your aid, you will also be charged 100% of your tuition for the semester. Please reference the Registrar’s Add/Drop Calendar for the tuition refund policy prior to determining if you will drop classes before or after completing 60% of the semester. Satisfactory Academic Progress will be based on all credits you are enrolled in past the tenth day of classes.

Always work with your Academic Advisor before attempting to withdraw on your own.

Receiving Your Aid

If you have any trouble accepting or declining your awards, or completing additional steps, contact the Financial Aid Office for assistance.

Accepting Awards in PAWS
Once your financial aid has posted to your PAWS account, you can log in to accept or decline your awards:

  1. Log in to PAWS
  2. Under the yellow Finances header, click on the blue Accept/Decline Awards link
  3. Select the aid year of the current award (you can also view previous years)
  4. On the Award Package page, click the name of the award in blue to view important program details
  5. Select the boxes to either Accept or Decline each individual award
  6. To accept a lower amount, check the Accept box first which will allow you to enter a lower amount in the Accepted field
  7. Click the SUBMIT button when you’re done
  8. Once submitted, click the blue Account Inquiry link to view your Pending Financial Aid by term

Keep in mind that all aid is offered and accepted for the entire year. University charges are assessed shortly before each semester begins.

Master Promissory Note and Loan Counseling
If you’re accepting aid in the form of a loan for the first time, you have two extra steps to complete: the Master Promissory Note and Entrance Loan Counseling. For Federal Direct Loans, both of these should be completed online at If you’re offered additional loans, you will be provided information separately.

The Master Promissory Note, or MPN, is a legal document that the borrower of the loan signs as a promise to repay any loans and interest. Go to to sign the MPN electronically using the FSA ID. If you have trouble navigating the website, or if you have questions about first time borrowing, contact the Financial Aid Office.

To understand how a student loan impacts their finances, new borrowers also have to complete an online module called Entrance Loan Counseling. Exit Loan Counseling is also required when you graduate or leave school. Log in to to complete the counseling modules.

Financial Aid Disbursement is the process that applies your aid to your university bill. Disbursement begins 10 days before the first day of the semester. After that date, you should check your PAWS account to confirm that your financial aid has been applied.

Take the time to review your bill so that you understand the charges that your financial aid has covered. This may include tuition, room and meal plan charges, and fees.

If you still have a PAWS account balance after Financial Aid Disbursement, you are responsible for paying the balance. This amount will be placed on the Installment Plan with new due dates. If you need assistance with paying the remaining amount, you’re encouraged to review the “Additional Financial Resources” section from the most current edition of the Financial Aid Handbook.

Refund Checks
After your financial aid disburses, the Bursar Office will apply it to your university charges. If you accepted aid that was more than the amount of charges you owe, you will be sent the difference in the form of a check from the Bursar Office to your PAWS Mailing Address. These funds can be used for your other educational expenses.

Once your financial aid has been posted to your PAWS account, it will credit room, meal plan charges, and tuition and fee balances. You will be able to see these amounts as well as a refund date by clicking Account Inquiry in the drop down menu under the yellow Finances header in PAWS.

If you haven’t received your refund check within two weeks of the PAWS refund date, you can contact the Bursar Office to get a status of your refund check.

I’m New to Financial Aid

If you have never applied for financial aid before, the most important things to consider are how much you need and what types of aid are available to you.

Determine Cost & Estimate Award
To help determine your estimated costs, we encourage you to utilize our Estimated Cost Calculator. You can add up your total based on what you want to include in your cost (tuition, room and meals, transportation and more).

If your cost is beyond what you can afford, you can estimate what you might get before you apply using the Financial Aid Office’s Net Price Calculator or the FAFSA4caster on These online tools use a formula created by the Federal Government to suggest a dollar amount you might expect to receive.

Whether you need aid or not, you should complete the FAFSA to see what awards you might be eligible to receive. If you have trouble using the calculators or need assistance figuring out your total cost, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Scholarships are a type of gift aid and do not have to be repaid. Most scholarships award a specific dollar amount that you can apply to your qualifying expenses. You can apply for scholarships based on your academic or athletic abilities, your connection to an organization or your community involvement.

You can review scholarships offered by UWM and the different Schools and Colleges here as well as several websites that you can browse for free scholarship searches.  Just remember, you should never have to pay to obtain a scholarship.

When you apply for scholarships, be professional, showcase your strengths, and apply early for anything for which you qualify.

Grants are a type of gift aid and, in most cases, do not need to be repaid if the enrollment period is completed. Grants are usually awarded to undergraduate students with financial need who are working towards their first degree and are enrolled at least half time. Half-time is defined by the Financial Aid Office as six or more credits for undergraduates.

Your eligibility for most grant programs is determined by your FAFSA results, so it’s important to complete the FAFSA early and accurately.


A loan is federal or private funding that must be repaid. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed each year to be evaluated for most loan assistance. A minimum enrollment status of half-time (undergraduate 6 credits/graduate 4 credits) is required to participate in most loan programs. Students enrolled less than half time may have private educational loan options.

Once your loan funds have disbursed, you’ll receive information from your Loan Servicer. They will be your main contact for making payments, qualifying for loan deferments, loan balance inquiries, and any other questions specific to your loan. If you have general questions about loans, you can contact the Financial Aid Office.

Work Study

In addition to grants and loans, filing a FAFSA allows the Financial Aid Office to determine if you qualify to earn income through the Federal Work Study program. Federal Work Study is for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Many UWM students find regular employment both on and around campus. However, due to limited program funding, work-study is awarded to approximately 500 UWM students. Federal Work-Study recipients are not assigned to a Work-Study job. Students must apply to the employer for any of the job titles that interest them. Jobs are posted on the PantherJobs database on the Career Planning and Resource Center website.

Learn More about Work Study