Applying for Financial Aid

young woman applying for financial aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is used by colleges and the federal government to determine your eligibility for grants, need-based scholarships, loans and work-study programs. The FAFSA will be available for Fall 2024 enrollment by December 31, 2023, and the sooner you submit it, the more aid will be available to you. The earliest financial aid packages will be sent out in mid-February. We recommend filing by March 1, 2024.

File Your FAFSA

Get Ready! 

Filing the FAFSA isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as it sounds — a little preparation will help make the process go smoothly.  

Before you can submit your FAFSA, you’ll need to create your FSA ID. You’ll need this Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to log in to your account, sign the FAFSA and make changes or add schools. You and your parent must create separate FSA IDs. 

Once you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS), and your information will be shared with the schools you indicated on your FAFSA form. 

5 Reasons to File Your FAFSA

1. It’s the ONLY way to determine if you are eligible for federal and state aid.

2. FREE.

3. It takes just 30 minutes.

4. There’s no obligation to accept student loans.

5. If you have financial need, you may qualify for grants.

Financial Planners 

Every applicant is assigned a financial planner, and they’ll be available to you now through your JWU graduation. Your JWU financial planner guides you through every step of paying for college, and helps you: 

  • Understand your aid offer 
  • Translate financial terms and aid types 
  • Understand the verification process 
  • Review tuition and fees 
  • Discuss payment plan options — monthly, term, loans 
  • Appeal for additional resources 

For any questions, contact our financial services team.

Types of Financial Aid

There are four general types of financial aid you’ll see in your package: loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Here are the differences:


Funds that must be repaid after graduation or upon leaving the university. There are four common types of loans:

Federal subsidized loan: A need-based loan which is interest-free while you’re in school

Federal unsubsidized loan: A loan for which you don’t have to demonstrate financial need, but on which interest will accrue while you are in school. You are not required to make payments while you are enrolled, but you may choose to do so. 

Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan: An optional loan parents can apply for to help pay for their student’s education. PLUS loans are managed by a federal loan servicer, often making them a better option than private loans. 

Private loans: A loan obtained from an outside vendor. We recommend that you exhaust ALL grant, scholarship and federal loan options prior to obtaining a private loan. 

Grants & Scholarships
A monetary gift that doesn’t have to be repaid. It is provided by the federal or state government, the university offering the award and/or private organizations. It can be one-time or renewable and can be based on grades, talents or other criteria.
Federal Work-study

A part-time job for students with financial need. Find out more about JWU’s work-study options.


Myths about Applying for Aid 

  • Myth: I don’t need to fill out the FAFSA to receive funding. 
    Fact: The FAFSA not only enables you to apply for federal grants and low-interest loans, it’s also the form that states and individual colleges use to determine your need-based aid. 

  • Myth: I need to pay a fee to file the FAFSA. 
    Fact: Filing the FAFSA is free — it’s right there in the name! Avoid any website or mobile app that requires a payment — that means it isn’t the official FAFSA site.
  • Myth: I need to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for financial aid. 
    Fact: Students who fall into certain non-citizen statuses are eligible for federal financial aid. See a list here. Your parent’s or guardian’s citizenship does NOT impact your eligibility. More information on financial aid options for DACA recipients is available on  

  • Myth: I need a computer to file the FAFSA. 
    Fact: You don’t! You can access on a mobile device or request a printout of the FAFSA PDF — in English or Spanish — by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). 

  • Myth: The FAFSA asks for a lot of information, and I won’t be able to find it. 
    Fact: The information the FAFSA collects includes things you can easily access, like your Social Security number, bank statements and driver’s license. Don’t worry about tax returns and forms; there’s a tool that will pull them in automatically for you! 

  • Myth: I need both parents’ information to complete the FAFSA. 
    Fact: There are many situations when you only need one parent’s or guardian’s information to complete the FAFSA — and you might not even need that. The FAFSA considers many different family situations, and so will your college’s financial aid office. 

  • Myth: My family must have filed their tax returns before I can file the FAFSA. 
    Fact: You can use what’s called “prior-prior year” taxes to complete the FAFSA. That means that for the 2024 FAFSA, you would use 2022 tax information. 

  • Myth: It takes a really long time to fill out the FAFSA. 
    Fact: The average time to complete a FAFSA is only 22-30 minutes. 

Your Financial Aid Glossary 

Here are some key terms you’ll see on your SAR and on the financial aid packages you’ll receive from the schools you listed on your FAFSA: 

Student Aid Index (SAI): The amount that the federal government believes your family can contribute to one year of college. Colleges use this to create your financial aid offer. 

Cost of Attendance (COA): An estimate of how much it costs to attend a college. The COA includes the price of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and other expenses associated with attending that school.  

Financial need: The difference between Student Aid Index (SAI) and a college’s Cost of Attendance (COA). 

Net price: How much it will cost you to attend a college for one year after subtracting your scholarships and grants, loans and work-study from the COA. Estimate it using JWU’s Net Price Calculator for the Providence Campus or Charlotte Campus. 

FSA ID: Your FSA ID is your user name and password to access or correct your FAFSA information online. You and your parent or guardian need separate FSA IDs. 

FAFSA Summary Report (FSS): This report shows you what data is on your FAFSA, some information about the aid for which you’re eligible and your Student Aid Index (SAI). 

FAFSA Changes

To maximize your financial aid eligibility, apply as early as possible after FAFSA opens.

JWU's FAFSA Code: 003404