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Financial aid basics




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Make sure you watch GoWMU and your email for updates from Student Financial Aid. Don't miss out on getting all the aid you are eligible to receive!

How are awards determined?

Student financial aid determines your awards from the information that you and your family supplied to the federal processor on the FAFSA.

Award priority is given to:

  • early applicants
  • the lowest to highest family incomes
  • academic merit
  • all programs are offered based on eligibility and the availability of funds

To determine the types and amounts of awards for which you may be eligible, WMU considers the following:

Residency Status

Your residency status for establishing the type of aid for which you are eligible (some aid programs are limited to Michigan residents only) is determined by the information indicated on the FAFSA. To be considered a resident who is eligible for in-state tuition, a student must be in continuous physical presence in this state for one year (12 consecutive months) immediately preceding the first day of classes of the term for which resident status is sought. The student must intend to make Michigan his/her permanent home and have no domicile elsewhere. The year of continuous presence is never the only criterion used for determining in-state residency status and, by itself, will not qualify a student for residency status at Western.

Residency policy and application

Dependency Status

Your dependency status for financial aid purposes is determined by how you answered questions in Step 3 of the FAFSA. If you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions, you are considered independent. If you answered "no" to all of the questions, you are considered dependent. Your dependency status determines the maximum federal direct loan limits for which you are eligible and whether or not you are eligible for a federal direct parent loan (PLUS). If you have answered "no" to all the questions in Step 3 and you have extenuating circumstances which prohibit you from obtaining parental data requested on the FAFSA, you can complete a dependency override appeal and submit it to the student financial aid.

If your dependency status is changed from independent to dependent based upon corrections made to your FAFSA in Step 3 by you or a school, your FAFSA may be considered "rejected" until parental information is provided. If you were awarded prior to the correction, your awards may be adjusted after parental information is received.

Class level and admission status

Your class level and admission status determines the maximum federal direct loan limits for which you are eligible and your eligibility for grants & scholarships, work-study and a federal perkins loan. The different categories of class level/admission status are:

Undergraduate degree/No prior degree

  • Your class level as an undergraduate student admitted into a degree granting program with no prior degree is determined by the number of credit hours you have completed.

    • freshman: 0 - 25 credit hours
    • sophomore: 26 - 55 credit hours
    • junior: 56 - 87 credit hours
    • senior: 88+ credit hours

Second bachelor's degree/Permanent teacher certification

  • If you have a bachelor's degree and you have been admitted into a different undergraduate degree granting program or you are taking courses to obtain your permanent teacher certification , then you are considered at the junior/senior level for federal direct loan limits and your dependency status is dependent upon how you answer the questions in Step 3 of the FAFSA. You are no longer eligible for federal and state grants or scholarships.

Graduate degree

  • If you have completed a bachelor's degree and you are admitted into a master's, specialist or doctoral graduate degree program, you are considered a graduate student for maximum Federal Direct loan limits and you are considered Independent. You are no longer eligible for federal or state grants and scholarships.

Non-degree seeking

  • If you are not admitted into a degree-granting program at WMU then you are not eligible for federal or state financial aid. You are considered not admitted into a degree-granting program for financial aid purposes for the following situations:
    • Guest (admitted at another educational institution and taking one or more courses at WMU
    • Degree status of: NDA, GNA or GCP (No degree awarded or a graduate certificate program)
      • Note: If your degree status is professional certification whereby you are completing hours for state permanent teacher certification- you are eligible for federal direct loans at the undergraduate level.
    • Taking additional courses after graduation and not admitted into a different degree-granting program with a different major (although WMU allows registration for additional courses after you have graduated for up to one year without being admitted into a different degree-granting program, you are no longer eligible for financial aid)
    • Adding a minor after obtaining your undergraduate degree

Planned enrollment

The semesters for which you are enrolled and your enrollment status (full-time versus less than-full-time) affect the aid programs for which you are eligible and your estimated cost of attendance. WMU assumes full-time enrollment for fall and spring when estimating financial aid awards.

Your award amounts may be affected in the following enorllment situations:

Enrolled less than full-time

  • If you will be enrolled less than full-time in any term, your awards may be reduced or cancelled depending upon your actual enrollment at the time of disbursement and the eligibility criteria for each of the aid programs. To be considered full-time, a student must be enrolled in 12 credit hours as determined at the time of census. Half-time enrollment is at least six credit hours. During summer sessions, full-time enrollment is at least six hours and half-time is at least three hours. For complete information, see the registrar's website.

Enrolled less than half-time

  • If you will be enrolled less than half-time, your eligibility will be reduced. In addition, if you have received federal subsidized, unsubsidized or perkins loan, your loan(s) may go into repayment.

Enrolled in summer I or summer II

  • If you are planning to enroll in summer I or summer II, you must complete a summer financial aid application.
  • Awards for summer I and summer II may be limited to your remaining eligibility for the federal pell grant, federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, PLUS, work-study and other grants.
  • Due to federal regulations, if you are eligible for the pell grant and have not used all of your eligibility prior to summer I, we must award what you may be eligible for in summer I based upon your enrollment and remaining eligibility. If you are eligible for a pell grant and enroll in Summer II, we have to award pell grant to you for summer II based upon your enrollment and eligibility and may have to reduce the amount awarded to you for a subsequent semester.
  • You may not be eligible for additional federal direct loans in summer I if you used your maximum amount in prior semesters. If you are awarded loans for summer II, it may reduce your eligibility for subsequent semesters.
  • If you need additional funds for summer I or summer II, you may be eligible for a private alternative loan with the maximum amount based upon what we estimate your summer I or summer II costs are, minus any other aid awarded to you.

Graduating in August or December

  • If you are an undergraduate student graduating in August or December and you have been awarded federal direct subsidized unsubsidized loans for fall and spring, your loans will be adjusted to NOT include spring semester. The amount may also be reduced depending upon the number of credit hours you will be completing during the terms of enrollment.

Undergraduate becoming a graduate student

  • If you are planning to graduate from WMU and become a graduate student, you will need to notify the financial aid office in order to receive financial aid at the graduate level. You will no longer be eligible for federal, state and WMU grants or the federal perkins loan. However, your annual loan limits will increase.

Estimated cost of attendance (COA)

The estimated cost of attendance is used solely for financial aid awarding and includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, personal expenses, travel and loan fees and is estimated based upon averages for each category. These numbers are not reflective of actual or projected costs. Actual tuition, fees, and university housing costs are published each year (generally after July 1) and are subject to approval by the WMU Board of Trustees approval. Factors considered are residency status, class level and admission status, planned enrollment, and housing options of on-campus, off-campus or living with parents.

Financial aid may be awarded up to the cost of attendance. If you receive awards, including outside scholarships, that exceed the COA, your awards may be adjusted or canceled.

View the COA budgets here.

Your estimated cost may be increased to allow for additional school related expenses, such as:

  • commuting
  • child care
  • additional fees/costs for specific courses
  • purchasing a computer

Please contact Bronco Express to discuss possible adjustments to your Cost of Attendance and/or financial aid award. 269 387-6000.

Expected family contribution (EFC)

The information you indicated on the FAFSA and federal methodology determine your EFC and the types of aid programs for which you are eligible. If a change occurs to your EFC after you have been awarded financial aid, your awards may be adjusted or revoked. Your EFC may change due to verification, FAFSA corrections, or an adjustment of family contribution appeal.

Other resources

You must report your additional resources to Student Financial Aid. The receipt of some resources may affect your eligibility for funding. If the federal, state or WMU aid has already been paid to your account when the notification of other resources is received, the paid aid may be reduced or canceled before the other resources are applied. Other resources include the following:

  • Americorp benefits used to pay for educational expenses
  • grants
  • Michigan Education Trust (MET)
  • reimbursement or payment of educational costs by a third party (i.e., an employer or some other agency)
  • residence hall staff "free room and board" benefit or stipends
  • scholarships
  • stipends from assistantships and fellowships

Program Eligibility Requirements

WMU must monitor the program eligibility requirements for all financial aid awarded to students. Your awards may need to be adjusted or canceled if we receive notification of any change in your residency status, dependency status, class level & admission status, planned enrollment, estimated cost of attendance, expected family contribution (EFC), or other resources.

Also, if you are not maintaining your eligibility, your awards may be canceled.

If you are receiving other resources, be sure you keep and understand any written information you have received regarding the eligibility criteria for those other resources. If you have not received any information (or you have lost it), contact the appropriate department, agency or donor and request a copy of the eligibility requirements.


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Student Financial Aid
1903 W Michigan Ave
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5337 USA
269 387-6000