Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment
Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment
Western Connecticut State University offers financial aid to help eligible students meet their educational expenses. The staff of the Office of Financial Aid & Student Employment assists students in determining their eligibility for the various sources of available aid.
While not everyone will qualify for assistance, students should never assume they are ineligible without first applying. A wide spectrum of variables affects the application process and many possible options exist that may pertain to a student’s particular circumstances.
The evaluation of financial need is based on an analysis of several factors such as student and family income, family size, assets and liabilities, and the number of family members enrolled in post-secondary education.
In addition, Western’s total allocation of funds for an academic year is a factor that determines the amount of aid a student may receive. Meeting the priority processing date and assessing the student’s financial need are important factors in the financial aid process. All financial aid recipients must apply annually for financial aid to qualify for assistance.
How to Apply
First-Time Applicants and Transfer Students
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov, and complete according to instructions. The university’s code, 001380, is required. Please be sure to obtain a FSA ID for yourself and your parent (if you are a dependent student) prior to completing the online form. You can apply for an FSA ID by going to http://fsaid.ed.gov
Applicants should make every attempt to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing the FAFSA. If at the time of completing the FAFSA form you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool because your taxes were recently filed or were not filed yet, you must update your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool once you have filed your taxes. Some individuals may not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval due to other circumstances.
The document resulting from the FAFSA is the Institutional Student Information Record or Student Aid Report (SAR). In order to be considered for priority packaging, this must be received in the university’s data files with a valid index number and with Western’s school code by March 1.
The applicant should allow 3-5 days for the processing of the FAFSA; February 1 is the latest recommended filing date.
First-time attending students must be accepted to the university by the Admissions Office by the March 1 deadline in order to be considered for priority packaging.
If your FAFSA form is selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education, you will be required to create an account and complete the verification process via the Verification Gateway online portal. Financial Aid has partnered with Inceptia, a non-profit organization, to complete the verification process.
Dependent students who provide parental information on the FAFSA are required to have one parent also authenticate and create an account.
If you did not utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you may be asked to update your FAFSA using this tool. In certain circumstances where this is not possible, you will be required to provide an IRS Tax Transcript for the student and/or parents. IRS Tax Return Transcripts may be obtained by going online to www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript, calling the IRS toll-free at 1-800-908-9946, or downloading a form online and mailing it to the IRS.
If you and/or your parent(s) did not and will not file a Federal income tax return, you will be prompted to answer specific questions in the Verification Gateway online portal.
Verification information that may be requested includes:
- Proof of high school completion or its equivalent
- Proof of identity and statement of educational purpose
Students and the Office of Financial Aid & Student Employment are notified by Inceptia once the verification process is completed. Financial Aid is then able to complete the processing of your Financial Aid Award Package.
To reapply for financial aid at Western, the following conditions must be met:
1. You must be in good academic standing.
2. You must be a matriculated student registered at least half-time for the upcoming semester.
3. You must have maintained satisfactory academic progress according to the standards and practices of the institution. (http://www.wcsu.edu/finaid/policies/progress.asp)
4. You should make every attempt to complete your FAFSA by our priority packaging date of March 1.
If your FAFSA form is selected for Verification, please refer to the Important Deadlines section.
Financial aid awards are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Please submit your paperwork by the required dates.
Western offers university and WCSU Foundation scholarships and academic awards to undergraduate and graduate students. For information about the scholarship selection process, please go to www.wcsu.edu/scholarships.
State scholarship recipients
If you are a recipient of a state scholarship and are subject to deadline dates, it is suggested that you complete a FAFSA as outlined (See “First-Time Applicants and Transfer Students”). Be sure to meet the necessary deadline dates.
Note: When you complete the FAFSA, you are applying for all federal, state, university grants and loans offered at Western.
Federal Pell Grants (PELL)
The Pell Grant was established as a basic access program for students who come from low- and middle-income families. To qualify for a Pell Grant, the student must:
1. Be matriculated.
2. Be registered at least half-time.
3. Be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, in an eligible program as an undergraduate student at the institution.
4. Meet one of the following citizen criteria:
a. Be a U.S. citizen;
b. Be a permanent resident of the United States;
c. Provide evidence from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he/she is in the United States for other than a temporary purpose, with the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident; or
d. Be a permanent resident of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands or the Northern Mariana Islands.
5. Maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the standards and practices of the institution. (http://www.wcsu.edu/finaid/policies/progress.asp )
6. Not owe a refund on a Pell Grant, supplement grant or state student incentive intended to meet the cost of attending the institution.
7. Not be in default on any National Defense/Direct Student Loan (also known as Perkins Loan), Stafford Student Loan, or Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) received to meet the cost of attending the institution.
8. Not engage in the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance during the period covered by this grant.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are awarded to students pursuing a first baccalaureate degree. Awards range from $100 to $4,000 per academic year. The conditions to be met in order to qualify for a supplemental grant are the same as those listed under federal Pell Grants above.
Roberta B. Willis Scholarship (GOVS)
A GOVS award can be given to full-time matriculated students. Recipients must be Connecticut residents. The grant cannot exceed financial need.
Connecticut State University Grant Aid (CSUG)
Public Act 76-181 authorizes the Board of Regents for the State Universities to allocate funds to be given as grants to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled as full or half-time matriculated students in a degree-granting program.
Federal Perkins Loan Program (PERK)
This program uses both federal and state funds. Annual loan limits are established at $5,500 for undergraduate students and $8,000 for graduate students. Aggregate borrowing limits are set at $27,500 for undergraduate students and $60,000 for graduate and professional students.
Students must provide their driver’s license number at the time of application. The monthly minimum repayment is set at $40.
There will be no repayment of principal or interest until nine months after the student graduates or formally leaves school.
(Note: There are a variety of reasons why Perkins Loan payments may be deferred, such as, economic hardship, military service, etc. For more complete information, please refer to the promissory note that is a part of your loan agreement.)
Federal Direct Loans
Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student’s education after high school.
The lender is the U.S. Department of Education rather than a bank or other financial institution.
Direct Subsidized Loans
Direct Subsidized Loans are for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations. No interest is charged while a student is in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during deferment periods. For more information on Direct Subsidized Loans including current interest rates, please visit http://studentaid.ed.gov
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not based on financial need; interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods. For more information on Direct Unsubsidized Loans including current interest rates, please visit http://studentaid.ed.gov
Borrowing Limits for Direct Subsidized
and Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans
Loan limits are determined by a student’s status or the number of completed credit hours:
First-year student (0-29 credit hours completed)
Second-year student (30-59 credit hours completed)
Other undergraduate (60+ credit hours completed)
Graduate and professional (undergraduate degree requirements completed)
Loan limits are as follows:
For DEPENDENT students
$ 5,500: First year ($3,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 6,500: Second year ($4,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 7,500: Other undergraduate ($5,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 20,500: Graduate and professional
For INDEPENDENT students:
$ 9,500: First year ($3,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 10,500: Second year ($4,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 12,500: Other undergraduate ($5,500 of this amount may be subsidized)
$ 20,500: Graduate and professional
Aggregate Limits for Federal Direct Loans
$31,000 as a dependent undergraduate student
$57,500 as an independent undergraduate student ($23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans)
$138,500 as a graduate or professional student ($65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans)
Direct PLUS Loan
The Direct PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans for the parents of dependent students and for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. For more information on Direct PLUS Loans including current interest rates, please visit http://studentaid.ed.gov.
Direct Consolidation Loans
Eligible federal student loans can be combined into one Direct Consolidation Loan. These loans are designed to help student and parent borrowers simplify loan repayment by allowing the borrower to consolidate several types of federal student loans with various repayment schedules into one loan. For more information on Direct Consolidation Loans, please visit https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/consolidationPaper.action .
Generally, you will have 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan you choose. The Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify you of the date your first payment is due.
If you do not choose a repayment plan, you will be placed on the Standard Repayment Plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the Standard Repayment Plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period. For more information on the different repayment plans, please visit http://studentaid.ed.gov.
Borrower Defenses Against Repayment
The department will specify in regulations what acts or omissions of a school a borrower may assert as a defense against repaying a student loan. However, a borrower may not recover from the department an amount that exceeds what he/she has repaid on the loan.
During deferment periods, payment of principal will be postponed. Deferments may be granted for:
- at least half-time study at a post-secondary institution;
- study in an approved graduate fellowship program or in a rehabilitation training program for the disabled;
- unemployment (up to three years) or;
- economic hardship (up to three years).
The limits that exist in Section 532(a)(6) of the Bankruptcy Code to prevent the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy specify that student loans will not be discharged except in cases where the loans first became due more than seven years before the date the borrower and his or her dependents incurred hardship. These provisions apply to both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.
Federal Tax Information
Any funds received from scholarships, benefits, fellowships, Western or any other sources that, when combined, exceed the cost of tuition, fees, books, required equipment and supplies are considered taxable income. These include federal Pell Grants but not federal loans. The borrower is required to report taxable awards to the IRS as income and therefore should keep a detailed record of all expenditures. Housing and food are considered nonexempt, so money spent on these items is subject to income tax.
What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?
Students receiving financial assistance under the federally supported Title IV Programs must comply with the following set of standards to be eligible for such assistance. Such standards are referred to as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), and are measured on a per-term basis. SAP is an assessment of your cumulative academic record at Western Connecticut State University. This policy is separate and apart from other academic policies at the university.
There are three components measured and weighed in determining SAP to ensure successful completion of a degree within a timeframe consistent with federal regulations.
Students applying for financial aid must maintain status as a matriculated graduate or undergraduate. Matriculated students will be evaluated for Satisfactory Academic Progress based upon qualitative and quantitative standards, as well as a Maximum Timeframe standard.
Students who enroll in the Fresh Start program will only have the credits retained and new GPA as calculated by Fresh Start, included in the determination of their SAP status for the re-entry term.
Financial Aid Programs Affected by Satisfactory Academic Progress
SAP is required for all Title IV funds, state, university and some alternative loan programs including, but not exclusive to the following:
- Federal Pell and Supplemental Educational Opportunity (SEOG) Grants
- Federal Loans: Perkins; Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized; Direct Parent/Graduate PLUS
- Federal Work Study Program
- Roberta B. Willis Scholarship
- Connecticut State University Grant
- State scholarship and grant programs
How is SAP Determined?
Grade Point Average (GPA) is the standard used to qualitatively measure Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students must meet and maintain the cumulative GPAs listed below:
Minimum Cumulative GPA Required
Undergraduate: 0-29 credits
Undergraduate: 30+ credits
Pace: Matriculated undergraduate and graduate students must successfully complete two-thirds (67%) of all cumulative credits attempted. For a summary of how attempted credits are classified for SAP purposes, see the table below:
Counted as Attempted Credits
Not Counted as Attempted Credits
Courses with grades A-F earned
Withdrawals- W, WF, WFP
Courses never attended
Incompletes- INC, NG
Pass/Fail courses- P, FP
Exams (i.e. CLEP)
Courses taken as a non-matriculated student
Fresh Start courses with grades > C-
Courses assigned RM/RP
No grade (NG)
For clarification on abbreviations, view WCSU’s grading system.
Below is an example demonstrating how Pace is calculated for SAP purposes:
Previous Transfer Credits
Attempted Fall 2013
Attempted Spring 2014
- The student has attempted a total of 57 credits across both semesters, and including transfer credits. In order to find out how many credits the student must have completed in order to meet the Pace standard, multiply: 57 x o.67 = 38.19
The student must complete and pass 38.19 credits to be in compliance with the Pace requirement of SAP.
Undergraduate and graduate students may receive financial aid for attempted credits in their program of study that do not exceed 150% of the published credits needed to complete said program.
- Example: If a bachelor’s degree takes a minimum of 120 credits to complete, multiply as follows to find 150%: 120 x .50 = 180
Therefore, a student in a bachelor’s degree program may attempt up to 180 credits before s/he is considered noncompliant with the Maximum Timeframe standard.
This 150% credit rule is also applicable to students who have changed majors, or who seek a dual or second degree.
When is SAP calculated?
All financial aid recipients will be reviewed for Satisfactory Academic Progress at the end of each payment period, and once grades are posted. Courses taken during the winter and spring break intersessions will be included in the SAP calculations at the end of the spring semester payment period.
The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment will review each file in accordance with the qualitative, quantitative and Maximum Timeframe measures described.
If all SAP standards are met, the student will be assigned a satisfactory status code of “SAPOK” and will retain financial aid eligibility for the next term.
Failure to Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress
If a student fails to meet one or more of the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards, an SAP Warning notification corresponding to the unmet standard(s) will be sent to the student via WCSU email. At any time, students may also check their SAP status on their WestConnduit account.
When an SAP Warning is administered, the student will still be eligible to receive financial aid for the immediate subsequent term, known as the SAP Warning term. If, at the end of the SAP Warning term the student is meeting the previously unmet standard(s), then the SAP Warning status is lifted, and the student will maintain financial aid eligibility for the following term.
Students who fail to meet the SAP standard during the SAP Warning term will be ineligible for financial aid in the subsequent term or until such time as they again meet the requirements of SAP.
It is possible for a student to be placed on multiple consecutive SAP Warning terms if the SAP Warnings are issued for failing to meet two different standards.
- Example: A student does not meet the Pace requirement for fall semester, and is given a Pace Warning for spring semester. At the end of spring semester he/she is meeting the Pace requirement, but is not meeting the GPA requirement. The student will then receive a GPA Warning for the following fall semester, and will still be eligible for financial aid.
Students who do not meet the Speed/Maximum Timeframe standard of SAP will not be granted a Warning term. These students will automatically lose financial aid eligibility, but may file an appeal to have their aid reinstated.
Apart from successfully appealing, or enrolling in an academic plan, students who are disqualified due to low GPA or low credit hour completion will regain financial eligibility once they achieve the required GPA or credit completion as long as they have not completed more than 150% of their program requirements. Undergraduate students who are disqualified due to exceeding the 150% of the required units for their program will regain eligibility after they become a graduate student once the bachelor’s degree is posted.
SAP Appeal Process
SAP Appeals will be accepted within 30 days of the date of SAP status notification, but no later than April 1, whichever comes first.
If, after one SAP Warning term, the student does not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress criteria, he/she may submit an appeal for reinstatement of financial aid eligibility. Appeals may be based on death of a relative, injury or illness of the student, or other special circumstances. SAP appeals must be written using the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form, and submitted with supporting documentation and a written explanation of what has changed that will allow the student to complete SAP during the next academic term. This form should be submitted to the SAP Appeal Committee, C/O Enrollment Services, Old Main 206.
If the appeal is approved by the committee, the student’s aid eligibility will be reinstated. Should an appeal be denied, financial aid will be cancelled for the next term.
Appeal Outcome and Academic Plan
If a student appeals successfully, financial aid eligibility will be reinstated for the following term. By the end of term, the student must be meeting the previously unmet SAP standard in order for financial aid to continue to be reinstated for future terms. Students who fail to meet the standard will be ineligible for financial aid in the subsequent term or until such time as they again meet the requirements of SAP.
Some appeal approvals may be based upon a student’s enrollment/completion of an Academic Plan as developed by the SAP Appeal Committee. The Academic Plan will outline specific academic conditions that must be met in order to maintain financial aid eligibility.
Financial Aid Withdrawal Policy
What is a Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)?
Federal regulations require Title IV financial aid funds to be awarded under the assumption that a student will attend the institution for the entire period in which federal assistance was awarded. When a student withdraws from all courses for any reason, including medical withdrawals, he/she may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that he/she was originally scheduled to receive. The return of funds is based upon the premise that students earn their financial aid in proportion to the amount of time in which they are enrolled. A pro-rated schedule is used to determine the amount of federal student aid funds he/she will have earned at the time of the withdrawal. Thus, a student who withdraws in the second week of classes has earned less of his/her financial aid than a student who withdraws in the seventh week. Once 60% of the semester is completed, a student is considered to have earned all of his/her financial aid and will not be required to return any funds.
When is a Return of Title IV Funds Required?
If a student’s enrollment status changes for an entire term (i.e. official withdrawals and administrative withdrawals), the school must recalculate the student’s awards to determine the amount of aid he/she will have earned based on the date of withdrawal.
If a student does not begin attendance in all of his/her classes, the school must recalculate the student’s awards based on the lower enrollment status. For instance, a student registers for a full-time course load (15 credits) but only begins attendance in three classes (9 credits); in this case, the student’s awards must be recalculated based on the lower enrollment status (9 credits).
Timeline for a Return of Title IV Funds
The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment must determine the amount of aid that was earned and how much was unearned; the unearned aid is returned to the U.S. Department of Education by WCSU on the student’s behalf. WCSU is required to recalculate Title IV Funds within 30 days from the date of withdrawal. In the event that funds need to be returned, WCSU is required to return funds within 45 days from the date of withdrawal.
The amount of unearned aid will be returned to the U.S. Department of Education. Due to the fact that the institutional refund policy is different from the Financial Aid Return of Title IV Funds policy, any return of funds may result in a balance due to WCSU. This is posted as a charge to the student’s WCSU account and must be repaid immediately.
If the student did not receive all of the funds earned prior to the date of withdrawal, he/she may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, WCSU must get permission before it can disburse them by collecting a post-withdrawal Disbursement Permission form. The student may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so as not to incur any additional debt. WCSU may automatically use all or a portion of the post-withdrawal disbursement grant funds for tuition, fees and room and board charges (as contracted with the school). WCSU needs the student’s permission to use the post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If this permission is not given, the student will be offered the funds. However, it may be in the student’s best interest to allow WCSU to keep the funds to reduce overall debt at the school.
When is a Return of Title IV Funds Not Required?
If a student withdraws from one or more courses during a semester but remains enrolled in classes, a Return of Title IV Funds is not required. Withdrawing from one or more courses, however may affect Satisfactory Academic Progress and in turn financial aid eligibility for future semesters.
WCSU Summer Withdrawal/R2T4 Policy
Western Connecticut State University has been determined as a Non-Attendance Taking institution during summer sessions.
WCSU does not initiate Administrative Withdrawals during summer sessions as they are elective sessions and not required terms as are the fall and spring terms.
Consistent with the academic year Withdrawal/R2T4 (Return of Title IV Aid) policies in place at WCSU, students must initiate attendance (initiated attendance is defined as “attended class sessions or participated in on-line class assignments or other instructional activities”) in their courses for which financial aid was calculated and awarded prior to disbursements. To ensure such and in the absence of attendance taking during the summer sessions, WCSU will not disburse Title IV funds until all final grades are posted for all courses for which aid was calculated and awarded.
Should a student be assigned a grade of “W,” “WF” or “F” for one or all of the courses for which aid was calculated and disbursed, aid will not be disbursed until the respective faculty confirms that the student initiated attendance with the Office of Financial Aid & Student Employment. Confirmation by faculty of initiated attendance will need to be made within seven (7) business days of the request. Should faculty fail to confirm initiated attendance, the Title IV aid will be prorated or cancelled prior to disbursement for the affected courses for which aid was calculated and awarded.
Student employment is an integral part of the university and of university life for many students. Student labor benefits the institution in almost every academic and administrative department on campus. The student’s employment can be related to his/her program of study and/or interests and work schedules can be arranged around the student’s academic schedule.
WCSU employs approximately 800 students during the academic year. The types of positions available are as diverse as the students themselves.
A list of position announcements can be found on the WestConn Works website – wcsu.edu/westconnworks.
To be eligible, students must be matriculated in a minimum of 6 credit hours at the university. Students are paid biweekly with an hourly rate of pay contingent on the difficulty of the position and the experience of the student.
There are two major funding sources for the student labor force at Western Connecticut State University: the Federal Work Study Program and Institutional Payroll.
The Federal Work Study Program is a federally funded program based on demonstrated financial need; work experience is not the qualifying factor. A Federal Work Study award is based on available funding.
The Institutional Payroll is state funded and is available to all students; it is not based on a student’s financial need. Students are employed based on the needs of the department, the availability of funds, and the student’s experience in specific areas.
All federal and state funds are subject to federal and state regulations as mandated.
Office of Veterans Affairs at WestConn
The Connecticut Department of Higher Education has approved WCSU’s educational programs for the training of veterans.
Current and former service members, surviving spouses and children of veterans may take advantage of VA Educational Benefits under the following programs : Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill, Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 35 Dependents Educational Assistance and Chapter 1606 Selected Reserve Educational Assistance Program. Furthermore, WCSU is able to accept Department of Defense Tuition Assistance from all branches of service, the Connecticut National Guard Tuition Waivers and the Connecticut Veterans Tuition Waiver.
WCSU will accept transfer credit from the Joint Service Transcript and the Community College of the Air Force.
The Office of Veterans Affairs at WCSU can be contacted at (203) 837-8840 or (203) 837-8003 between the hours of 8am and 4pm, Monday through Friday. Information can also be viewed on our website at www.wcsu.edu/veterans. To explore available benefit programs, please go to www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/benefits.htm.