Introduction to Financial Aid for Students and Parents

Financing a College Education is a shared responsibility between...

  1. Students and Parents
  2. Federal and State Governments
  3. Private Sources

There are no programs administered by the Higher Educational Aids Board for the State of Wisconsin that cover the entire cost of a college or university education.

The First Step

To apply for financial aid, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form may be filed online at Paper applications are available from high school guidance offices or college financial aid offices. Students may file the FAFSA beginning on January 1, for the upcoming academic year.

Using the FAFSA data, the federal Department of Education will determine the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is based on income, non-home assets, family size, age of parents, number of parents working, number in college, etc, and is the standard measurement of a family's ability to pay for a college education. This standard is applied to all students in determining their financial need.

After the student submits the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send the student a report called the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR lists the information that was reported on the FAFSA, as well as the student's EFC. It is very important that the student review this information when it is received and immediately fix any incorrect information. Failing to do so could delay the application and result in a loss of available aid.

The Second Step

On the FAFSA, the student lists the colleges they plan to attend. Information calculated using the FAFSA data is forwarded to these colleges for each individual student. Each college financial aid office determines the Cost of Education, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. This amount will vary from college to college. The student's EFC does not vary by college; it remains constant.

The student's Financial Need is determined by subtracting their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the cost of education.

Cost of Education EFC = Financial Need

The Third Step

The college financial aid office will award aid to meet the student's financial need. Because the cost of education varies from college to college, the student's financial need and their aid package will also be different at different colleges. To find out the amount of a financial aid package, the student should contact the college or university financial aid office.

The financial aid package can include grants, scholarships, loans, and student employment. Funding for this aid may be provided by the federal government, the state government, the college's own funds, and from private organizations.

The college financial aid office is the best source of information regarding the student's financial aid package. For information on contacting the financial aid offices of colleges and universities in Wisconsin, please see Financial Aid Application Information.

State of Wisconsin Financial Aid

To be eligible for Wisconsin state financial aid, a student must:

  1. Be a resident of the state of Wisconsin
  2. Have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent
  3. Be enrolled in a degree or certificate program
  4. Be attending a non-profit college or university based in Wisconsin
    • University of Wisconsin System
    • Wisconsin Technical College System
    • Independent Colleges and Universities
    • Tribal Colleges

State statutes prohibit students from receiving state financial aid who are:

Through the Higher Education Aids Board, the State of Wisconsin provides financial aid to Wisconsin residents including:

HEAB also administers:

See Also