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Financial Aid - FAQs

Students and families understandably have many questions regarding financial aid. We have provided a list of the most frequent topics of inquiry that our office receives in hopes of providing helpful guidance to some of the questions that you may have. Additionally, the Guide to Undergraduate Financial Aid addresses many of the general financial aid terms, conditions, and policies applicable to financial aid recipients. It is the responsibility of financial aid recipients to read and understand the information provided in this guide.

Applying for Aid

Types of Aid

Expected Family Contribution

Cost of Attendance

Determining Financial Need

Receiving a Financial Aid Offer

Outside Scholarships

Student Employment & Federal Work Study

Study Abroad

Underload and Part-Time Enrollment

Withdrawal from William & Mary and refund policy

Moving Off Campus

Summer Financial Aid

Changes to Eligibility

Duration of Eligibility

Appeal for Special Circumstances

Applying as an Independent Student

Resident Assistant Job and Financial Aid

Verification

Submitting Forms to the Office

Passphrase

Billing

Tax Information for Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions

1098-T Tax Form

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Student Health Insurance

Title IV Authorization Questions

IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)

IRS Tax Return Transcript

IRS Wage and Income Transcript

IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter


Applying For Financial Aid 

Students that are pursuing financial aid are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid - FAFSA.  W&M also requires that incoming & transfer students complete the CSS Profile. Unlike the FAFSA, which needs to be completed annually, the CSS Profile only needs to be completed for the initial academic year that a student pursues financial aid. These applications are only necessary if you seek a need-based financial aid award. You do not need to file either application (the FAFSA or the CSS Profile) to be considered for Merit Scholarships offered by the Admissions Office.  More in-depth information on the FAFSA and CSS Profile can be found on our Applying for Financial aid webpage. You may also want to review our announcement on priority filing dates. 

Application  School Code
FAFSA 003705
CSS Profile 5115
Types of Financial Aid

Financial Aid can take many forms in a student's aid package. 

There are four basic types of financial aid offered by William & Mary:

  • Federal, state, and W&M grants
  • Federal Direct student loans
  • Federal work-study and other student jobs
  • Merit Scholarships are awarded by the Office of Admission to entering students or by individual departments to continuing students. 
Expected Family Contribution

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number determined by the Department of Education from the information you provide in your  Free Application for Federal Student Aid - FAFSA form. Your EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law and considers your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security). Schools use the EFC to determine your financial aid eligibility when compared to the Cost of Attendance.

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance is built using the following data elements - your tuition & fees, and estimated costs for room, board (meals), books/supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses that you may incur during the nine-month academic year. The sum of these estimated expenses helps to determine your financial need when compared to the Expected Family Contribution.

Determining Financial Need

In general, financial aid need is determined using the cost estimate of two full-time semesters at W&M and subtracting the Expected Family Contribution and Outside Scholarship/Additional Resources.  Need-based financial aid includes grant funding, need-based scholarships, Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, and Federal Work Study funding. These funding sources are required to fit within a student’s financial need.

                 Financial Need Formula
Start With W&M's Cost of Attendance
Subtract (-) The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) 
Subtract (-) Outside Scholarships/Additional Resources
Gives you (=) Financial Need

Receiving a Financial Aid Offer

After receiving and reviewing the applicable financial aid applications, we will either reach out to you if more information is needed or provide you with a financial aid offer. The financial aid offer will include details such as the cost of attendance, the financial aid that is being offered to assist with college expenses, and other information pertinent to the financial aid that you have been offered.  Financial Aid Award notification emails are sent at different times for different groups of students. Below you will find an estimated schedule for emails to be sent, provided all the necessary information was available to the Office of Financial Aid to award a financial aid package. In addition, you will be able to log on to your Banner Self-Service account to view your award.

  • Entering freshman - one week to 10 days after acceptance
  • Entering transfers - one week to 10 days after acceptance
  • Returning undergraduates - late June
  • Entering Law - mid-March
  • Returning Law - late April
  • Entering MBA - mid-April
  • Returning MBA - late June
  • Education & VIMS - late June
  • Art & Sciences - late June
Outside Scholarships

Many of our students are recipients of scholarships and other financial resources in addition to the financial aid that our office provides. This includes but is not limited to scholarships from a high school, private club, agency, corporation, organization, W&M departmental scholarships, and/or tuition benefits from a parent’s employer. Financial assistance from outside sources may affect your eligibility for financial aid since those resources reduce your financial need. We provide several opportunities for students to report these funding sources to our office (even if they are paid directly to the student):

  • Outside Scholarship and Resource Reporting Form - aid year specific, be sure to choose the correct form year.
  • The CSS profile (for new and transfer students)

If you are not yet a recipient of outside scholarship funding but would like information on researching these opportunities, the outside scholarship search resources link is a great place to get started on your independent search.

To find out how outside scholarships and the potential impact on an awarded financial aid package, we have a webpage on outside scholarships/additional resources

All student scholarship checks/awards should be mailed to Student Accounts at the address below:

William & Mary Student Accounts
108 Blow Memorial Hall
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187 - 8795
 Student Employment & Federal Work Study

Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds are need-based. If you are eligible, you can earn FWS funds during the school year. If you have been awarded FWS and are interested in working, please accept the fund in the self-service Banner Portal (found in the myW&M portal). We will contact you by email in early August with further information on how to utilize your FWS award. Please note that students are not automatically placed in a work position. Students will seek out a position on campus upon arrival. Work-study funds are earned throughout the academic year and are paid via payroll, not directly to your student bill.

 If you do not qualify for FWS but still want to work on campus, there are plenty of jobs available to you. Check the Cohen Career Center Page – Tribe Careers for postings. Most openings will be listed near the start of fall classes. We have a Student Employment & Federal Work Study webpage that can provide more information. 

Study Abroad

The opportunity to study internationally is a wonderful opportunity for our students, and the Financial Aid Office is here to assist where we can with that process. Financial Aid eligibility can be used to assist with Study Abroad Expenses.

  • If the costs associated with your semester abroad are greater than the cost of a traditional semester at W&M, your financial aid eligibility will not be reduced.  However, additional grant funding will not be provided to assist with the higher costs.  Additional student loans can be offered to assist with the higher costs.  There may even be scholarship opportunities to assist with your study abroad expenses. (Eligibility for these scholarships is not determined by the Financial Aid Office. You will want to reach out to the Reves Center for more information regarding study-abroad scholarship opportunities).
  • If the costs associated with your semester/year abroad are less than the cost of a traditional semester at W&M, your eligibility for need-based aid may be impacted.  Full details regarding using financial aid to study abroad can be found on our study abroad webpage.
Underload and Part-Time Enrollment

Undergraduate students must enroll for at least twelve academic credit hours per semester to receive the full amount of financial aid they were initially awarded. Undergraduate candidates who obtain written approval from the Dean of Students for an underload or were admitted to W&M under a FlexTrack designation may receive a reduction in costs. However, the reduction in costs may impact your eligibility for financial aid.  In order for the Financial Aid Office to make updates to your cost of attendance (as well as any possible adjustments to your financial aid eligibility), you will need to complete the Undergraduate Self-Reported Enrollment Plan form for the aid year you are in. This will give us a proactive notification of your enrollment intentions so that we can notify you of any changes in your financial aid eligibility as soon as possible. Otherwise, the revisions will be made once we receive notification of the changes in your billing because of the underload or FlexTrack approval. You will receive a notification from our office if there are any changes to your financial aid eligibility. 

Withdrawal from William & Mary and the Refund Policy

Student Accounts has information regarding a withdrawal from the College and the College's refund policy.

Moving Off Campus

The calculation for determining financial aid eligibility does not change when you transition from on-campus housing to off-campus housing since we estimate that off-campus housing may cost as much as on-campus housing. In lieu of financial aid going towards your on-campus housing charges, financial aid in excess of your W&M balance will be sent to you in the form of a refund to assist with your off-campus expenses.  Additional information and helpful tips in regard to moving off campus can be found here.

If a student lives with relatives, they would be considered a commuter student, and their Cost of Attendance would change. If you have questions about your plans to live off campus, please reach out to our office. 

Summer Financial Aid

Summer aid Eligibility is based on the FAFSA that was submitted for that academic year. For instance, Summer 2023 financial aid will be determined using the 2022 - 2023 FAFSA. You will also be required to submit a Summer Financial Aid Application for the aid year you are in. The Summer Financial AId Application will be available between late February to mid-March. Financial aid for summer is limited and may only include loan eligibility if no grant funds are available. We encourage you to submit your summer aid application at least a month before you start class so we have time to generate a financial aid offer for you to evaluate. This will give you time to adjust your plans or consider other options if there is not enough financial aid to make summer attendance financially viable.  More information can be found on our Summer Financial Aid page.

Changes to Eligibility

Eligibility for financial aid is determined annually by the filing of the FAFSA or VASA application for returning students. At this time, only new applicants (first-year and transfer students) should complete the CSS Profile. Several circumstances could affect your original award. Examples of things that could change your financial aid eligibility include, but are not limited to, verification of your application, change in your family's financial situation, failure to maintain academic progress, notification after your award of outside aid such as a scholarship, or not enrolling for the required number of hours to receive aid through programs awarded.

Duration of Eligibility

Entering students will have up to 10 semesters in which to complete their degree program and receive financial assistance. Transfer students will also have 10 semesters of grant aid eligibility, which will be the total of the semester(s) taken at previous school(s) plus those completed at W&M.

Appeal for Special Circumstances

There may be circumstances that have changed since completing your financial aid application (ex: involuntary loss of income). There may also be unforeseen events that have affected your family’s resources to assist with education expenses (ex: high medical costs). There is an option to submit a formal appeal for a reconsideration of financial aid eligibility if you have a qualifying circumstance. The appeal documentation will be reviewed by an Appeal Committee, and you will be notified of the outcome of the appeal after their review. Additional financial aid is not guaranteed.  In order to submit a formal appeal, please visit our financial aid forms page to find the Appeal for Special Circumstances Consideration form for the aid year you are in. 

Applying as an Independent Student

In general, undergraduates cannot declare themselves independent of their parents due to family disagreement, living arrangements, or parental unwillingness to contribute to the cost of attendance. 

According to federal regulations, you must answer "yes" to one of the following questions to be considered "Independent" for financial aid purposes during the 2023-2024 academic year:

  1. Were you born before January 1, 2000?
  2. Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
  3. Will you be enrolled in a graduate or professional program in 2023-2024?
  4. Were you married on the date when you filed the FAFSA?
  5. Are you an orphan or a ward of the court?
  6. Do you have legal dependents other than a spouse or children?
  7. Do you have children who receive more than half of their financial support from you?
  8. Are you currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  9. Are you an emancipated minor?
  10. Are you currently, or were you in legal guardianship? * In most cases, custody does not qualify; contact your Financial Aid Counselor if you have concerns.
  11. At any time after the age of 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  12. At any time on or after July 1, 2022, did your high school, school district homeless liaison, director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the US HUD, or director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

However, there are the extenuating circumstances of estrangement or dysfunction, including but not limited to abuse, abandonment, drug abuse, and parent incarceration, that may allow an otherwise dependent student to qualify as independent. These extenuating circumstances must be documented by an objective third party to qualify. To submit a Dependency Override, please visit our financial aid forms page to find the Dependency Override form for the aid year you are in. If you have questions and want to discuss your unique situation with your financial aid counselor, please reach out. 

Resident Assistant Job and Financial Aid

Working for Residential Living as a Resident Assistant is not only a great leadership opportunity for our students but can also be a great way to help offset your housing expenses. In some cases, students may already be receiving financial aid that is covering those housing expenses allowed in the cost of attendance. In that scenario, the receipt of RA funding may impact your eligibility for financial aid and result in an adjustment to your financial aid. You are welcome to reach out to our office so that we can review your account to determine how RA funding may (or may not) impact your financial aid eligibility.

Verification

The intent of Verification is to ensure the accuracy of the financial aid applications prior to providing a financial aid offer. It may be determined that additional documentation is needed to provide additional clarification and/or to resolve any discrepant information. The Verification process will require the submission of some of the documents that were used to complete the financial aid applications (ex: tax returns, W2s, etc). Verification also allows for additional details to some of the household information and resources that may not have been reflected on the application. Our office reserves the right and may be obligated to revise your FAFSA application after reviewing the documentation that has been submitted. These revisions may impact the outcome of your original FAFSA submissions. However, the revised outcome resulting from our revisions is what the original family contribution would have been if those data elements had been reflected on the original FAFSA submission.  Verification is not a punitive process and oftentimes, during verification, we fix mistakes that were limiting a student's aid eligibility - allowing for a better financial aid package. 

Submitting Forms to the Office

We have several convenient options to submit documentation to our office:

  • Dropbox (box): This is the preferred method of document submission. Box is a secure portal that will allow you to upload your documents to William & Mary's Financial Aid Office.  We do suggest a pdf format for the easiest transmission.  Please save the document with the student's name and W&M 93# included in the filename. 
  • In-person: Documents can be brought to our office during our normal operating hours (Monday - Friday from 8a to noon and from 1p to 5p). We are located in Blow Memorial Hall, Room 124.
  • Fax: Documents can be faxed to our office at (757) 221-2515.  Please make sure to include the student's name and W&M 93# on the documents you submit. 
  • Mail:  Documents can be mailed to our office
    • USPS
      William & Mary
      Office of Student Financial Aid
      P.O. Box 8795
      Williamsburg, VA 23187 - 8795
    • Surface Carrier (DHL, FED-EX, UPS, etc.)
      William & Mary
      Office of Student Financial Aid
      Blow Memorial Hall - Room 124
      262 Richmond Road
      Williamsburg, VA 23185

Please note: To protect your data, we do not accept documents via e-mail attachments.

Passphrase

Passphrase is a verification system designed to verify the identity of individuals requesting information from student education records. No information from student education records may be disclosed without the consent of the student or an applicable exemption under the student records privacy policy.

  • The student will get their Passphrase through Banner Self-Service (my.wm.edu) when they do the Personal Information Questionnaire.
  • The student will provide contact information for each person they wish to have access/communication rights within the Personal Information Questionnaire, and those individuals will be e-mailed their own unique Passphrase words.
  • Parent Proxy is not the same as the Passphrase.

Information regarding Passphrase, as well as instructions to get set up, can be found on the Dean of Student's webpage.

Billing

Although financial aid can be used to assist with your educational expenses, The Financial Aid Office does not oversee the charges on your account.  You will want to visit the Bursar's website for your questions regarding billing. We have a webpage that may help understand the process of having financial aid authorized to the student's bill and other financial aid questions that may pertain to billing

Tax Information for scholarships, fellowships, grants, and tuition reductions

To find out what education tax reductions apply to you, please contact an independent tax advisor.  We also recommend that you review the IRS Guide for Scholarships, Fellowships, and Tuition Reductions for the most up-to-date information regarding tax information for education.

 To find out what education tax reductions apply to you, please contact an independent tax advisor.

1098-T Tax Form

The W&M Financial Operations Office issues the 1098-T each year in January. Students should be able to view their 1098-T by logging in to myWM. Once logged in, select the 'Student' tab, click on 'Student Account,' click on '1098T Tax Notification', enter the tax year, and submit. If you received a 1098-T from the Executive MBA Program-Business School Foundation, you would need to contact The School of Business directly at (757) 221-2294.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal guidelines require that students receiving federal financial aid make satisfactory progress toward their degree. In general, satisfactory progress regulations mirror the college's continuance standards, managed by the Dean of Student's Office. Entering students will have up to 10 semesters in which to complete the program and receive financial assistance. Only courses which count toward your academic degree may be counted in the number of hours required to receive federal aid. Students placed on Academic Suspension are not eligible for federal financial aid. Students may appeal this as part of the academic reinstatement process. 

Student Health Insurance

William & Mary requires full-time students to be covered by adequate health insurance coverage through the school year.  For more information on the Student Health Insurance Requirement and the potential for additional financial aid to help with the cost, please refer to our Financial AId for Health Insurance page. 

Title IV Authorization Questions

William & Mary, in compliance with federal regulations, must obtain a student's response to Title IV Authorization questions annually.  Please refer to our webpage for more information on the Title IV Authorization Questions.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)

The IRS DRT is a way to electronically transfer federal tax return information into your FAFSA form. The DRT can be used for both parent and student tax data. The Federal Student Aid website has helpful information on the IRS DRT.

IRS Tax Return Transcript

An IRS Tax Return Transcript is offered through the IRS. If you need to provide tax return data to our office and you no longer have your original 1040 tax return documents, you can request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS for our office to use. You can request an IRS Tax Return Transcript from the IRS Get A Transcript Website.  Please note the IRS offers several types of transcripts. If our office is requesting tax documents, we must have the Tax Return Transcript; the record of account or tax account transcripts will not satisfy the request.

IRS Wage and Income Transcript

Our office will often need to request W2s and other income documents.  If a parent or student does not have their W2s from the applicable tax year, the IRS offers a Wage and Income Transcript, which can be provided as an alternative document. You can request a Wage and IncomeTranscript from the IRS Get A Transcript Website.

IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter

If the parent of a dependent student was not required to file a tax return, then we are required at times to get an IRS Verification of Non-filing letter. If a student is considered independent for FAFSA purposes and was not required to file a tax return, then we may also need an IRS Verification of Non-filing letter. You can request an IRS Verification of Non-filing letter from the IRS Get A Transcript Website.