How Financial Aid Works
What is Financial Aid?
The term "financial aid" covers the wide range of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study assistance offered to students to help lower their financial obligation while attending BW. Sources of financial aid include federal and state government programs, BW itself and other awards from high schools, civic organizations, public agencies and private foundations. Some types of aid are "need-based" with eligibility determined by an evaluation of family need. Other types of aid are "merit-based" and recognize academic or talent-related student achievements. There are also "awards of circumstance." Unlike merit or need-based aid, awards of circumstance are based on some common or shared characteristic or attribute such as being a resident of a particular city or a graduate of a certain high school.
Regardless of the type, there are certain standards you must meet and responsibilities you have in order to keep aid that is included in your award letter from the Financial Aid Office (FAO). If you don't meet the standards or understand your responsibilities, you may become ineligible for certain types of aid. Review the Student Guide to Financial Aid from the U.S. Department of Education for more information.
Students who wish to be considered for financial aid need to complete the necessary application forms including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Eligibility for financial aid is determined annually based on the information contained in the application materials. Financial aid consists of government, college and private grants and scholarships; federal and private educational loans; and campus work-study earnings. Complete your application as soon as possible to avoid any delays in receiving financial assistance. Information about student aid programs is available from the FAO.
Now that I'm registered for classes, how does my aid work?
Once you are registered for classes, your financial aid is put into motion. Before the start of each semester, the Bursar's Office makes your student billing statement available on WebExpress. The billing statement shows your direct University charges (tuition, room and board, and any miscellaneous charges) as well as financial aid that will be credited to your account.
- Federal financial aid [Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Loans, PLUS Loans, etc.] is not posted to your account until the start of the semester.
- If you are eligible for federal financial aid and have completed all requirements to receive the aid, it should appear as anticipated financial aid on your billing statement.
- If your final high school transcripts are not received by the admission office before the start of classes, your federal financial aid cannot be disbursed to your student account.
You can also monitor your student billing account on WebExpress at any time. Your billing account will be updated as new credits are released. The information available on WebExpress is updated the moment any activity has posted to your account. This is particularly helpful when you want to see if federal aid you are eligible to receive has posted to your account. If you do not know how to access WebExpress, contact the IT Help Desk.
How does being enrolled full time vs. part time affect my financial aid?
If you are not enrolled full time and your financial aid award is based on full-time status, some types of aid will not be credited until your registration and financial aid status are clarified. If this happens, notify the FAO so your award status can be reviewed.
If you are enrolled part time (11 credits or less), financial aid eligibility will be credited to your account at the start of the semester, provided your financial aid award is based on part-time student status.
How is my aid disbursed?
Grants, scholarships and loan proceeds are credited directly to your billing statements. All conditions of financial aid eligibility must be met before government and University grants are credited.
Federal Direct Loan funds that have been electronically approved are directly credited to a student's billing statement when all conditions of financial aid eligibility have been satisfied. For hard-copy Federal Direct Loan checks, the student is notified of the receipt of the check by the FAO. The student must then endorse the check at the Cashier's Office before it can be credited to the billing account.
For Federal Perkins Loan advances, eligible students must sign the promissory note and required documents at the Perkins Student Loan Office promptly after the award is made.
If you are eligible to receive Federal Work-Study assistance, it is your responsibility to secure a campus job through the Student Employment Center. Visit the Student Employment Center in MyBW to view a complete list of available jobs. Students working at campus jobs receive earnings checks for the number of hours worked. Pay periods are bi-weekly. The University will direct deposit the checks to the student's bank account or the student's BW billing account.
University charges that are not covered by approved/awarded financial aid are the responsibility of the student.
Why hasn't all of my aid been credited to my student account?
There are several reasons why certain types of financial aid may not be credited to your student account.
Some FAFSAs are randomly selected for a process called "federal verification." If your FAFSA has been selected by the federal processor for verification of data, the FAO must collect and verify the information you used to complete your FAFSA and, if necessary, correct any errors to ensure that your FAFSA reflects accurate family background and financial information. If your FAFSA is chosen for verification, any need-based assistance that is part of your financial aid award (i.e., grants, loans and work-study) can't be released to the Bursar's Office and won't show up as a credit on your account until verification is complete. Sometimes verification will change a student's eligibility for aid. If any corrected errors result in a different Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the FAO will revise your financial aid award accordingly.
If your FAFSA was selected for verification, the phrase "Your FAFSA has been selected for Verification" will appear on the paper version of your award letter. Learn more about the verification process.
Federal Direct Loan
Obtaining a Federal Direct Loan requires additional steps before funds can be credited to your student account. As a first-time Federal Direct Loan borrower, you need to complete an Entrance Interview statement and sign an electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN). For detailed instructions, visit Federal Direct Loan Program.
Students eligible to receive a Perkins Loan must sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) before funds can be credited to their billing account. In August, the Perkins Loan Office in Bonds Hall sends emails to students who have been awarded a Perkins Loan that contain a link to electronically sign the MPN. Once the MPN has been signed, the Perkins Loan officer will release the funds to the student's billing account. If you have questions about Perkins Loans, call the Perkins Loan Office at (440) 826-2218 or contact Marcia Shaffer at email@example.com.
Note: For the 2015-2016 academic year, you must sign your Perkins MPN by September 30, 2015 or potentially lose the aid.
Other Loans (Parent PLUS and Private Education Loans)
These funds are released to the Bursar's Office in the form of an electronic funds transfer (EFT) or as a paper check, requiring endorsement of the borrower. Sometimes parents are required to sign a paper check. If that is the case, the FAO will contact them.
Federal Work-Study is a unique type of financial aid that requires work to be performed in order to receive funds. If you are awarded Federal Work-Study, you can decide how you would like to apply your earnings. You can choose to receive your earnings as a direct deposit into your bank account which you can use for personal expenses or you can choose to have your earnings deposited directly into your student account. The amount of Federal Work-Study dollars listed on your award letter represents the maximum you can earn in an academic year.
For more information on using your Federal Work-Study eligibility, visit Federal Work-Study.
Other Types of Gift Assistance
If you notify the FAO that you received a scholarship from an external source, we will include it as part of your financial aid award. However, the funds will not be posted to your student account until the check is received by BW. In some cases, BW doesn't receive these funds until after the end of the semester. Any balance due to the Bursar's Office is due regardless of the fact that outside funds are expected but not yet received. You may want to pay your balance due for any outside scholarship amounts to avoid any finance charges on an unpaid balance assessed by the Bursar. For more information about finance charges or the policy, contact the Bursar's Office at (440) 826-2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the amount of your financial aid exceeds your charges for the semester, you may have a credit balance on your student account. For information about credit balances, contact the Bursar's Office.
What if I change my housing status?
Your financial aid award is based on your enrollment status and your housing status. If your financial aid award was based on you living on campus, your financial aid eligibility was calculated based on charges of tuition, room and Jacket Express. If you move off campus, you are only charged for tuition and your financial aid eligibility must be recalculated. Likewise, if your financial aid award was based on you commuting, your financial aid award would not include eligibility for your room and Jacket Express charges and therefore must be recalculated.
It is very important that you report any change in your housing status to the FAO as soon as possible. The FAO checks for housing status changes two weeks into the semester. Any changes that were not reported will require a revision to the financial aid award at that time. It's important that your award letter is correct before the semester starts, so be sure to check the most recent award letter you received to ensure that your financial aid award was based on your current housing status.
What if I add or drop classes?
Once the term’s add/drop period has passed, the tuition charge and aid eligibility are set. Further adjustments in the tuition charge and financial aid eligibility may occur if a student decreases or increases the number of course credits for which they are enrolled. For more information on how enrollment affects financial aid, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.
I want to study abroad. Will I receive any additional financial aid?
Students who are approved to participate in BW's explorations/study abroad programs may be eligible to receive additional financial assistance when there are program costs above BW tuition, room and board. Depending on student financial need as determined by FAFSA results, 25 percent of a student's added explorations/study abroad formal charges may be awarded in the form of additional BW gift assistance with a maximum possible award of $2,500. Additionally, BW offers a no-interest loan option to further help with program costs above the BW costs for tuition, room and board.
Will I receive a Study Abroad Grant if I participate in more than one study abroad program?
You can receive this added Explorations/Study Abroad Grant for more than one overseas study program, but only those approved for such assistance as determined by the BW explorations office. Limited funds are available for students who participate in overseas study programs. Students receiving student remission assistance from BW are not eligible to receive additional BW gift support for participation in explorations/study abroad programs.
If I qualify for a Study Abroad Grant, how do I receive additional financial aid?
During the semester prior to the study abroad travel, the explorations/study abroad office provides the FAO with a list of the students who are participating in approved study abroad programs, including any program costs above BW tuition, room and board. Students' financial aid awards are then automatically reviewed to include changes to any direct costs (room and board and/or program costs), adjustments for allowances for indirect costs (travel, miscellaneous expenses, etc.) not already covered by BW tuition, room and board or program costs, and then a revised aid award is processed and sent.
SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP)
Can my grades affect my financial aid eligibility?
You can lose eligibility for federal aid if:
- you are not maintaining the minimum cumulative grade point average
- you are not earning sufficient credits toward graduation
Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average
If you are junior status or above as defined by the Office of Registration and Records, then you must have a 2.000 cumulative GPA or you lose eligibility for federal aid. If you are below junior status, then you should consult BW's catalog for the corresponding minimum GPA related to credits earned. If you are not maintaining the minimum GPA, then you are not entitled to any federal aid (gift, loan and work-study) until you are in compliance with Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements.
Earning Sufficient Credits Toward Graduation
You also need to earn sufficient credits in order to graduate within 150 percent of the normal time frame that it takes a student to graduate. For example, a normal full-time liberal arts degree takes four years to earn. Therefore, you are allowed up to six years to complete degree requirements which is 150 percent of the time frame.
This does not mean that you have six years until someone starts checking on you. Each year the FAO reviews each student's SAP requirements to see if the student is keeping pace with the 150 percent rule. A first-year student normally needs to earn 15.5 credits by the end of each semester in order to graduate in four years. Federal SAP regulations require students to earn 10.33 credits of the 15.5 credits taken by the end of each semester. This enables a full-time student to earn, in general, enough credits to graduate by the end of six years.
A full-time student who doesn't complete, on average, the minimum of 10.33 credits per semester becomes ineligible for aid until sufficient credits are earned to place the student at least at the minimum required level of earned credits needed toward graduation.
Are there any other consequences if I fail to achieve minimum standards of SAP?
Yes. If you're placed on BW's probation or suspension list, your BW Grant may be permanently reduced from your award. The penalty is a $250 loss for academic probation and a $500 loss for one of these categories: academic suspension, board of appeals classification and warning probation.
- FAFSA on the Web
- U.S. Department of Education – Federal Student Aid
- FINAID – The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid
- Financial Aid Calculators
- U.S. Department of Education
- IRS – Forms and Publications
- Selective Service
- Financial Aid Terms and Definitions
- MPN Questions and Answers
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
- Terms Under Which Federal Loans May Be Forgiven