The primary mission of the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (OSFA) is to assist prospective and currently enrolled students and their families in securing the most suitable financial aid as the student pursues a degree or teaching certificate at UNCW. Through our outreach efforts, we support the University’s mission, including the commitment to public service and the encouragement of access to college. To this end, we administer federal, state and institutional student financial aid programs in excess of $100M to assist UNCW students.
Eligibility for the majority of our programs is determined using the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Methodology.
UNCW offers assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and Federal Work-Study jobs or a combination of these programs. For most graduate students, federal student loans are the primary source of financial assistance. Students are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every October 1st to receive priority consideration for aid. Aid funds are disbursed to the students’ account at the beginning of each semester. Aid will continue to be disbursed through the rest of the semester as student’s financial aid files become complete. Refunds for overpayments of aid are processed regularly for students who have a credit balance. In order to receive a refund, the student needs to access the Student Accounts website to set up for e-refund to ensure there is no refunding delay. Contact Student Accounts at (910) 962-4281 with any questions about refunds.
To apply for Federal or State financial aid or institutional need-based aid, degree-seeking and teacher certificate students must submit a FAFSA. Some students must submit other documentation as requested by the OSFA. To receive federally-funded financial aid, students must be making satisfactory academic progress as determined by the OSFA; be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; and meet other criteria as specified by the U.S. Department of Education including at least half-time enrollment status. Questions concerning financial aid at UNCW should be directed to the OSFA. The office is located in the Warwick Center.
Graduate Enrollment Status for Financial Aid Purposes
For financial aid purposes, the following definitions apply for determining graduate enrollment status during the academic year (fall, spring and summer semesters):
|Graduate Level Credit Hours*
|9 or more
|6.0 - 8.5
|4.5 - 5.5
|Less than 1/2 time
|0 - 4.0
*Number of credit hours in which the student is enrolled at the end of the drop/add period. Students enrolled in a master’s program must be earning credit hours in a qualified program in order to be eligible for financial aid. Note: a student may also be considered full-time when enrolled for less than nine hours if one of several conditions are met. See full-time status under the Academic Regulations and Procedures section.
Graduate students must be enrolled at least half-time in graduate-level courses to qualify for most financial aid programs.
Total credit hours for all summer sessions are used to define enrollment status in summer semester for financial aid purposes.
In order to receive a refund in the first session of Summer School, graduate students must be registered for at least 4.5 hours during Summer I. If the student registers for 3 hours in each session, the refund will not be available until the first day of class of the second session. All students, including graduate students, must be attending at least half-time prior to a refund being issued.
Classes may be held until Summer II aid is applied to your account. Students are responsible for book money and living expenses until Summer II classes start at the end of June.
Students who need summer school aid must complete a summer school application available at www.uncw.edu/finaid after March 1. In order to have summer school aid processed in time to hold classes, the application must be received no later than one week prior to the start of the session you are attending.
Graduate teaching assistantships are available on a limited basis in the Cameron School of Business, the Watson College of Education, the College of Health and Human Services, and the College of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts. The admission application process determines the candidates for these awards. For information contact the specific department/school or the Graduate School.
Scholarships and Awards
The goal of the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid at UNCW is to provide students and their families with information on both internal and external scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are gifts of money that do not require repayment.
Scholarships usually recognize special achievements in academics, talent, and leadership. Some scholarships may also require that students demonstrate financial need. Financial need will be determined by submitting the FAFSA. Scholarships can come from a variety of sources. Scholarships may be awarded by the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid, Admissions, Honors, and by each of the colleges on our campus. There are scholarships for transfer students as well as students currently enrolled at the university.
UNCW has many scholarships that have been made available through the generous donations of alumni and friends of the university. Scholarship eligibility, criteria, and amounts may vary. Information pertaining to the scholarships available and the application process may be obtained from our University Scholarship Application located in SEANET and through our Scholarship Manager Student Portal. The application opens each December 1. Students may also find additional information about discipline specific scholarships by contacting the academic department of their intended major or by viewing college Web pages.
Students must complete a FAFSA to initiate the application process and are automatically considered for all Federal Loan programs and Federal Work-Study. Students may borrow up to $20,500 in Direct Student Loans per academic year.
Federal Unsubsidized Direct Student Loans are available to graduate students who file the FAFSA and otherwise are eligible. Students may borrow up to $20,500 or the cost of attendance minus all other resources (including financial aid, tuition remissions). Interest begins accruing when the funds are disbursed to the student. Repayment begins when the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment status. There are a variety of repayment plans. A portion of the loan may be cancelled upon completion of employment under certain terms and conditions. Students must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Federal Direct student loans. More information about the terms and conditions are available at the following link: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans
PLUS Loans for graduate or professional students. Graduate or professional students are eligible to borrow under the Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS Loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans. These requirements include a determination that the applicant does not have an adverse credit history, repayment beginning 60 days after the last disbursement of the loan, and a fixed interest rate of 7 percent in the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program. Applicants for these loans are required to complete the FAFSA. They must have applied for their annual maximum loan eligibility under the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program before applying for Graduate or Professional PLUS loan. They also must complete an entrance counseling session prior to first disbursement and an exit counseling session when the student leaves school.
Master Promissory Note. To receive a Direct Loan or PLUS loan for graduate students, the student is required to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) with the U.S. Department of Education Direct Loan Program at https://studentaid.gov. Students may use computers in the OSFA if desired.
Entrance and Exit Counseling
Students who receive a Federal Unsubsidized or Perkins Loan must complete loan entrance counseling prior to receiving the first disbursement of a loan. Students can complete this process at https://studentaid.gov. Students may use computers in the OSFA if desired.
These students must also complete exit counseling at the same location once they graduate or if they withdraw.
Non-Federal and Alternative Loans
Non-federal loans are often referred to as alternative loans because they represent an alternative to the federal loan program, and are typically the only funding option for students in non-degree programs.
The Direct Loans and PLUS Loans generally provide more favorable terms and conditions than non-federal loans, but not always. For that reason, we encourage students and their families to compare terms and conditions of each. Eligibility for non-federal loans is determined by the lender based on credit review. UNCW certifies the loan amount, but has no influence on the credit decision. A very small percentage of students are ineligible for federal loans. The most common reason for this ineligibility is failure to meet UNCW’s satisfactory academic progress policy. Please visit our website for more information on these financing options.
The OSFA provides financial aid outreach to educate prospective and currently enrolled students on the financial aid process and on how to manage loans. For more, contact our office or join our Chat Tuesday financial literacy programming offered year-round: https://uncw.edu/seahawk-life/money-matters/financial-aid.
The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS), which is federally funded, provides part-time jobs both on and off the UNCW campus or off campus with community service organizations, for students who have demonstrated financial need. Students who submit a FAFSA and answer “yes” or “don’t know” when presented with the question regarding wanting federal work study to be considered. Funds are limited and are awarded based upon the date the completed FAFSA is received.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for Financial Aid Eligibility (Graduate)
Federal regulations require that students receiving financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress from both qualitative and quantitative measures: cumulative GPA (3.0), hours earned compared to hours attempted (50%) and maximum time limit (200% of the published length of the program).
Satisfactory Academic Progress and eligibility for financial aid are determined each academic term after grades are available. For more, visit https://uncw.edu/seahawk-life/money-matters/financial-aid/applying-receiving/eligibility.
Federal regulations allow for certain cases in which the school may waive the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. Specifically, if a student’s failure to be in compliance with one or more areas of satisfactory academic progress is due to events beyond the student’s control, such as a student’s extended illness, serious illness or death in the immediate family, or other significant trauma, and if such mitigating circumstances can be appropriately documented for the specific term(s) in which the deficiency occurred, the student may appeal to the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (OSFA). Eligibility may be regained by appeal. Contact the OSFA to obtain a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal form.
Policy on Return of Title IV Funds
Federal financial aid funds are awarded with the expectation that students will complete the entire period of enrollment. Students “earn” a percentage of the funds they are disbursed with each day of class attendance. When a student who has received federal financial aid funds (Title IV Funds) leaves school before the end of the semester or period of enrollment, federal law requires UNCW to calculate the percentage and amount of “unearned” financial aid funds that must be returned to the federal government. This calculation may have the effect of requiring a return of funds that have already been disbursed to the student. Students are encouraged to meet with their financial aid counselor prior to making the decision to withdraw from school. Once a student has completed more than 60% of the enrollment period, students are considered to have earned all funding received. For more, visit https://uncw.edu/seahawk-life/money-matters/financial-aid.
OSFA provides certification for educational benefits to veterans and/or their eligible dependents, enrolled at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Chapter 32 (VEAP), Chapter 1606/1607 (reservists from all branches of the services, and Chapter 30 (individuals who served on active duty), Chapter 33 (Post 9-11), and transfer of Benefits (T.O.E.) veterans who feel they have an entitlement should check with their local VA Office, the Regional Office in Atlanta (1-888-GIBill1) or the VA certifying official at their local educational institution. You may also obtain information at www.gibill.va.gov.
The exception to the above is:
- A veteran who has a 20 percent or greater disability due to service connected cause(s) may be eligible for benefits under Chapter 31. Check with the Veterans Affairs Regional Office (1-800-827-1000).
A goal of the OSFA is to assist students eligible for veterans’ benefits with counseling regarding their coursework and benefits while they work to successfully complete their desired educational objective within the guidelines of the North Carolina State Approving Agency. The monitoring of attendance, successful completion of courses and the pursuit of appropriate curricula are required. Services to veterans and dependents include referrals to peer and professional counseling, employment, community outreach services, tutorial services and special programs for educationally disadvantaged veterans.
Before each semester, the OSFA emails all VA students notifying them that their benefits will be processed for the upcoming semester and that they can reply if they wish to not use their benefits for that semester. Changes in the veteran’s course of study must be cleared with the Veterans Services coordinator to ensure continuation of benefits. For changes in status or further information about veteran benefits and eligibility requirements, students should contact the OSFA at (910) 962-3177, Fax (910) 962-3851 or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.