Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Student Financial Assistance

AWARDING INFORMATION

A financial aid award, or awards package, is a comprehensive offer of resources to help a student pay for college. Award packages vary widely per student but may include grants, scholarships, loans, work-study, or any combination of these elements. Most WKU students receive annual Fall/Spring awards for traditional enrollment during the academic year. Term-specific awards are also available to eligible students enrolled in Winter, Spring, and/or Summer terms.

Find information about applying for and receiving federal financial assistance for students enrolled in both Fall and Spring terms. To learn more about awarding requirements and procedures for other terms, use the tabs above.

How do I apply for Fall/Spring financial aid?

Students desiring federal aid (such as grants, loans, and work-study) for both Fall and Spring terms should meet the following criteria: 

  • be officially admitted to a degree-seeking program at Western Kentucky University,
  • have a valid FAFSA on file with WKU for the year in which they are seeking assistance,
  • and have no outstanding financial aid requirements.

First-time freshmen who meet this criteria can expect to receive an official award notification in April. Award notifications are sent via TopperMail (or to the email address listed on the student’s FAFSA until a TopperMail account is assigned).

Returning students who meet that criteria can expect to receive an official award notification via TopperMail after their grades have posted for the previous semester.
Is there a separate application process for federal student loans?

No. The FAFSA is the only application needed for federal student loans. However, in addition to accepting the loan offer on TopNet, first-time student loan borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling and E-Sign a Master Promissory Note at the StudentLoans.gov website before WKU can process loan funds. 

How will I be billed for the Fall/Spring terms?

The university Bursar’s Office handles student billing and accepts payments. Please click here for more information.

How will my federal aid be applied to the Fall/Spring terms?

The WKU Department of Student Financial Assistance adheres to federal, state, and institutional guidelines for administering aid. Your official award notification lists the total annual aid for which you qualify. In most cases, half of the aid will be applied to Fall term and the other half applied to Spring term. 

Will earnings from federal work-study be applied directly to my university bill?

No. Student workers are placed on payroll and receive compensation for hours worked during a specified pay period. Full payment of your university bill is typically due before the semester begins, not incrementally over the term. Student employees may elect to save all or part of their paychecks to help with future education costs, but work-study income is not applied directly toward a student’s balance. 

My FAFSA EFC number is 0. Does that mean all of my college expenses will be paid in full?

No. An EFC number of 0* may mean you qualify for the maximum federal and/or state grant(s). It* may also make you eligible for a subsidized student loan, which reduces the amount of interest that would otherwise accrue when you borrow money.

However, costs vary per school and may include any combination of tuition and fees, housing, meals, books, or other charges. Should your university costs exceed your total aid package, you are responsible for the outstanding balance due, which should be paid by the billing due date.

*Per federal guidelines, an EFC of 0 does not guarantee grants or subsidized loan eligibility. A number of other factors help determine eligibility for student aid programs. For example, students pursuing graduate-level degrees do not qualify for grants or subsidized loans.

What additional resources are available if my student aid doesn't cover my university charges in full?

Each aid package is unique to the individual student and may include federal and/or state grants, student loans, and federal work-study. Many students also qualify for academic, athletic, or third-party scholarships to offset the cost of education. Should your eligibility for aid fall short of paying your university bill in full, you can consider a variety of other resources.

Our financial aid counselors are happy to assess your financial aid package and guide you toward potential funding sources. If you have any questions, please contact us.

For federal financial aid purposes (i.e., grants, loans), any courses taken during the Winter Term will be combined with Spring registration to determine your federal financial aid eligibility. Federal financial aid will not be awarded for Winter term; instead it will be combined with your Spring award and disbursed according to the Spring disbursement schedule. 

How do I apply for aid for the Winter Term?

To be eligible for federal aid, you must have a valid FAFSA on file. The WKU Department of Student Financial Assistance will automatically review your federal eligibility based on the combined Winter and Spring registration. Enrollment in both Winter & Spring term courses will initiate this review.  

Can I receive federal financial aid for the Winter Term?

Your federal financial aid eligibility is based upon the combined Winter and Spring registration.  The Department of Student Financial Assistance will adjust your Cost of Attendance (COA) for Spring based upon Winter term registration.  Any courses taken during this term will be combined with Spring registration to determine federal financial aid eligibility.  For example: if a student is registered for 3 hours in the Winter term and 9 hours in the Spring term, his/her Spring eligibility will be based on 12 hours of enrollment.  

How will I be billed for the Winter Term?

You will be billed separately for the Winter Term and will be responsible for paying your Winter balance by the due date listed on your Winter bill.  Winter Term enrollment is combined with Spring enrollment to determine federal financial aid eligibility; however, for billing purposes, Winter and Spring are separate terms.  

How will Winter Term affect my Spring federal financial aid eligibility?

Any courses taken during the Winter Term will be combined with Spring registration to determine federal financial aid eligibility. 

I’m already registered full-time for the Spring semester.  How can I cover the cost for Winter registration?

If you’ve already been awarded a full-time package based upon your grade level and dependency status, adding Winter registration will not increase your Pell or Direct Loan eligibility.  However, there may be other financing options such as an alternative loan or Parent PLUS Loan. 

How will my Pell eligibility be affected if I register for Winter session courses?

Pell eligibility is based on the combined Winter and Spring registration.  If you are already awarded a full-time Spring Pell grant, adding Winter registration will not increase your Pell award. 

Will taking classes during the Winter session affect my CAP grant eligibility?

CAP grant eligibility is based upon the combined Winter and Spring registration.  If you are already awarded a full-time spring CAP grant, adding Winter registration will not increase your CAP award.  

When will my loans disburse if I take classes during the Winter session?

Because your loan eligibility is based upon your combined registration of the Winter and Spring terms, your loans will disburse after the Spring 100% drop/add period, provided that all financial aid requirements have been met. 

Can my PLUS Loan be increased to cover my Winter Term expenses?
We will not automatically increase your PLUS Loan if you add Winter registration.  Your current Spring aid, including any PLUS Loans you are receiving, will apply toward Spring charges.  If your parent (or you, if you are a graduate student) would like to increase the PLUS Loan, you can email fa.applications@wku.edu, and information will be sent regarding the next steps to increase the PLUS Loan. 
Can I receive financial aid if I’m planning to graduate after the Winter session?

It is highly recommended that you contact the Department of Student Financial Assistance prior to the end of the Fall semester to determine if there is aid eligibility. 

How will my Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) affect my eligibility for financial aid?

You must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) prior to receiving aid for any term.  There is no review after the Winter term; therefore, your winter grades will not change your federal financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status for Spring semester.  SAP will be reviewed at the end of the Spring semester. 

What happens if I drop a Winter course?

Financial aid awards are based on combined Winter and Spring credit hours. If your registration falls below full-time (12 credit hours-combined Winter and Spring registration) before the Spring 100% drop/add period, your financial aid award will be adjusted.  

Students who begin their academic studies during the Spring semester or who transfer to Western Kentucky University from another school for the Spring semester may apply for financial aid. The same types of financial aid are available to students for Spring Only attendance as during both Fall/Spring attendance periods, but financial aid will be awarded for only the Spring semester, as opposed to a full academic year.

If your parent has not applied for the PLUS Loan, read our PLUS Loan page for more information. Graduate students who have reached $20,500 can apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan. $20,500 is typically the maximum amount that graduate students might be able to borrow in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans per academic year.

Who are Spring Only students?

A Spring Only student is a student who will begin attending WKU or is transferring to WKU for the Spring semester of the current academic year.  

What aid is available to me?

The same types of aid are available to students for Spring Only as during the Fall/Spring semesters, however, financial aid will only be awarded for the Spring, as opposed to the full academic year.     

How do I apply?

In order to apply for federal financial assistance, you must:

  • Have a valid FAFSA for the current academic year on file with WKU.  You may complete a FAFSA by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. Or, you can add WKU to your current FAFSA by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov, logging into your account, and then choosing "Make FAFSA Corrections." 
  • Be in compliance with WKU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
  • Have no outstanding financial aid requirements. In order to determine this, you must log in to your TopNet account, select the Financial Aid tab, and then click Eligibility.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours for undergraduates and 4.5 hours for graduate students) in a degree-seeking program in order to be eligible for federal loans.

Once you are enrolled, you will be contacted via email regarding aid eligibility. In order to determine your loan eligibility, you will need to complete the Spring Loan Preference Application.  Once you are enrolled at least half-time, a link will be emailed to you. 

If you are transferring from another university, where you attended in the Fall semester, please contact that institution to cancel pending Spring aid.  We cannot determine eligibility until pending aid has been canceled.

When can I expect to be awarded?

Our office typically starts awarding for the Spring term in November.  Once we have received your Spring Loan Preference Application, please allow 14 business days to be awarded.

When will my aid be disbursed?

Aid will be disbursed at WKU after the 100% drop/add period.  If you have a residual balance at that time, funds should be released in early February.  

Summer is part of the academic year that includes the previous Fall/Spring semesters. If you wish to apply for aid for the Summer semester, you will need to have a current FASFA on file.

Which FAFSA do I need to have on file?
Summer is part of the academic year that encompasses the previous Fall/Spring semesters.  For example, if you wish to apply for aid for the Summer 2017, you will need to have a 2016-2017 FAFSA on file.
What types of federal aid are available for Summer?

Only Pell Grant and Federal Direct (aka Stafford) and PLUS Loans are available for the Summer term. SEOG and Perkins are not available nor are state programs such as CAP and KEES.  

If you exhausted your full Pell and Direct Student Loan eligibility during the Fall, Winter, and/or Spring semesters, at WKU or at another institution, you will not have eligibility for the Summer term.  If you attended full-time both Fall and Spring semesters, Pell is not available for the Summer term. 

The chart below lists yearly loan amounts based on grade level.  If you did not utilize the full amount during the Fall/Spring semester, you could have loan eligibility for Summer (reaching your aggregate loan limit will prevent you from receiving your yearly amount).

Year in School

Dependent Student (had to use parent’s information on the FAFSA)

Independent Student OR Dependent Student with a denied Parent PLUS

Undergraduate

 

 

Freshman

$5500

$9500

Sophomore (or Jr/Sr pursuing an associate’s degree)

$6500

$10500

Junior/Senior (pursuing a bachelor’s degree)

$7500

$12500

Graduate

 

 

Graduate student (pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate)

 

$20500

Graduate student (pursuing a certificate)

 

$12500

I've exhausted my student loan and Pell Grant eligibility. What can I do?

Dependent undergraduate students may have the option of a Parent PLUS Loan.  If your parent already has a PLUS Loan approval on file, after obtaining permission from your parent, you will need to contact our office to receive the link to the Summer Loan Preference Application. If your parent has not applied for the PLUS Loan, please visit our Loans page for additional information.   

Graduate students who have borrowed the $20,500 yearly maximum may apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan or increase an existing Graduate PLUS Loan. Click here to learn more information about the approval process.     

If you only have PLUS eligibility, contact our office to receive the link to the Summer Loan Preference Application.  Before you contact our office, please be sure that your parent or you, if you are a graduate student, has gone through the approval process at the StudentLoans.gov website. 

Finally, an alternative loan may be an option. This is a loan from a private lender and can be used with or without federal student aid. Click here to learn more about alternative loans. Interest rates vary by credit score and lender. You may also need a co-signer.  

How do I apply?

In order to apply for federal financial assistance, you must:

  • Have a valid FAFSA for the current academic year on file with WKU.  You may complete a FAFSA by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. Or, you can add WKU to your current FAFSA by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov, logging into your account, and then choosing "Make FAFSA Corrections." 
  • Be in compliance with WKU’s Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
  • Have no outstanding financial aid requirements. In order to determine this, you must log in to your TopNet account, select the Financial Aid tab, and then click Eligibility.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours for undergraduates and 4.5 hours for graduate students) in a degree-seeking program in order to be eligible for federal loans.

Once you are enrolled, you will be contacted via email regarding aid eligibility.  In order to determine your loan eligibility, you will need to complete the Summer Loan Preference Application.  Once you are enrolled at least half-time, a link will be emailed to you.   

I need to change my schedule or drop a Summer course.  How will this affect my financial aid?
If you have been awarded, please contact the Department of Student Financial Assistance before you make any changes to your schedule.  Any changes could affect your financial aid.
When can I expect to be awarded?
Our office typically starts awarding for the Summer term in early April.  The award process begins after you are enrolled in your courses.  Once we have received your Summer Loan Preference Application, please allow 14 business days to be awarded.
When will my aid be disbursed?
 

WKU should receive payment from federal student aid programs the first week of June. Residual funds will be released the following week. Unfortunately, we cannot release residuals any earlier than that.  

How will my SAP status affect Summer awarding?
If you are on an approved SAP Appeal or on SAP Warning for the Spring term, we will need to check your grades before the awarding process can begin.  

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 
 Last Modified 6/28/17