Financial Aid

  • Financial Literacy

    Whether you are just starting college or graduate school, or if you are leaving college to start a new career, you will be facing new financial challenges.

    Overall, the development of prudent financial decisions such as how much you borrow or spend while in college and the judicial use of credit cards and checking accounts and other financial management tools will affect how you approach finances and debt management in the years to come.

  • Personal Finance Overview

    Borrowing for school has become a common practice for college students. But before you take that step, make sure you have researched all potential sources of scholarships and grants.

    Many students begin by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing early and before important deadlines may qualify you for optimal financial aid packages—putting you in better position to pay down student loans after graduation.

    According to the Institute for College Access and Success’ College InSight report, 66% of 2015 college graduates living in Massachusetts had student loan debt and the average amount of debt owed by Massachusetts college graduates was $29,391. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reports that the average federal loan debt of WSU student borrowers is $19,500.

    Debt can be expensive. Interest payments on debt work against you. Payments on your debt will affect your future income.

    While you should look at borrowing to help meet educational expenses as an investment in your future, you should use common sense and good personal finance practices. Don’t feel alone if it seems like there is never enough money to make ends meet. It happens to almost everyone at one time or another. The key is to avoid making bad financial decisions that you will have to live with later on.

    The Financial Aid Office is a great resource center that you can use to find ways of paying for school.

    Financial Awareness Counseling Tool
    The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool provides students with 5 interactive tutorials covering topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. Students are able to access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback that can help them better understand their financial obligations. Students may log in using their FSA ID to view their own federal student loan data or can click on "Start Demo" to use the tool without logging in.
    Avoid Back-to-School Overspending

    As the days become shorter, we realize that fall is just around the corner, and so are those back-to-school items. The following are some tips to help you create your own back-to-school spending plan:

    • Try to set aside money each week to prepare for back-to-school shopping. Try to pay with cash wherever possible or use layaway if available.
    • Create a master list of needed school supplies. Buy in bulk and save some money.
    • Develop a spending plan before you begin shopping. Determine a dollar amount both appropriate and affordable to spend on each item.
    • Analyze what is needed. Examine what you have from last year to determine what is wearable and what needs to be replaced. Set priorities on purchases. If your priorities include a more expensive item than the plan will permit, start saving earlier.
    • Try to shop as early as possible and avoid the last-minute rush.
    • Check for sales before shopping.
    • Use the internet to shop for discounts. You may be able to download coupons for popular stores at different websites.
    • Compare price and quality to ensure the best deal.

    Source: CCCS Credit Counseling

    Money-Saving Tips
    • Figure out a monthly budget and stick to it. Spending an extra $10 to $20 per week adds up quickly, and you may find yourself running out of money if you don’t budget accordingly. Keep accurate, organized records of your finances to help you plan and budget.
    • Be a well-informed borrower. Borrow as little as possible and know the differences between your loans. Know the terms and conditions of each loan you borrow and understand your rights and responsibilities.
    • Be realistic about your salary expectations once you graduate. Educate yourself about the job market that you plan to pursue. Plan for the future by estimating a realistic future salary and figuring your discretionary income.
    • If awarded Federal Work-Study, set your work schedule and make sure you work your full schedule to maximize on earnings potential.
    • If you need furniture, you can often find some good deals on barely used furnishings and appliances at thrift stores.
    • Thrift shops can also be a great place to get clothes at a fraction of retail price.
    • Take advantage of free entertainment on campus and in the surrounding community. There are many wonderful things to do that cost little or nothing. Check out the school or local community paper for listings.
    • Don’t bring a car to college unless absolutely necessary. Maintaining a car is expensive. Public and campus transportation is generally accessible and more affordable.
    • When traveling, be sure to look for discounts before booking flights or renting cars. Many agencies give student discounts.
    • For school supplies and household items, shop at discount stores which are usually less expensive then convenience stores.
    • Keep your student ID handy at all times. Don’t hesitate to ask museums, movie theaters and public transportation, etc. if they offer student discounts.
    • Look for sales and use coupons when making purchases. Most items you want go on sale at some point.
    • Try bringing your lunch or coffee some days. Buying them each day adds up.
    • Take advantage of tax benefits related to educational loans.

    Source: Debt Management Counseling/Jan Marie Coombs - Citizen's Bank Education Finance

    Credit Cards

    Many people think that credit cards are "free." In reality, you pay for the use of credit cards in every purchase you make. The merchant providing the service pays the credit card company and charges you in the price of the goods and services you buy (1.5 % to 3% or perhaps more). If you pay your credit balance each month, that is all you pay. If you carry your balance forward, you will also be charged interest of up to 19% or more on your balances.
    Things to know about credit cards
    Credit cards can be a very handy tool for students if used correctly. If not, they can become a burden and can cost you a great deal in the interest that you pay the credit card companies. When applying for a credit card, look for the best deal. All credit cards are not the same.

    • Look for the lowest interest rate you can find.
    • Look for a card with no annual fee.
    • Use only one credit card.
    • Don’t charge more than you can pay off the next month.

    Paying balances in full at the end of each month is the best way to make sure that credit card debt does not get out of hand.

    Avoid using credit cards to buy things that you could not afford to buy if you did not have one.

    Even small card limits of $500 to $1,500 can seem enormous when you don’t have the money to pay your balance and interest charges begin stacking up every month.

    Manage Debt Now
    Stop spending money on things you don’t need. If you can, live at home for a few months after graduation to save on rent. Don’t use your credit card. If you have a summer job, work overtime or get another part time job and pay off your credit card debt.

    Remember, you can only spend your money once. After that, you are spending the credit card company’s money and they charge you big time for the privilege.

    Consumer Credit Counseling Service is a free nonprofit foundation, available to help you manage your debt. Call 800-388-2227 or visit the CCCS website.

    Close Look at Credit
    Maintaining good credit will help you:

    • Rent an apartment
    • Buy a car or house
    • Get good interest rates on loans and credit cards
    • Enable you to continue your education

    Signs that you might have a problem with too much debt are:

    • You regularly spend more than you take in every month.
    • You charge for small purchases such as groceries and gas because you don’t have cash available.
    • You cannot pay more than the minimum on your credit card.
    • You are receiving calls from credit card collectors.

    Record Keeping
    Keep all copies of loan, credit card, and checking account paperwork. Keep all notification from lenders, guarantors, and servicers. Keep all copies of utility bills, etc. to help in making an accurate budget. Read and respond to all mail.

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

    SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, provides food purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people, including students. The monthly benefits are used to supplement the participant's food budget. You can learn more and even apply online at, or you can go to the SNAP office in S-129 to learn more about the program and participant eligibility. More information on the SNAP office, as well as Thea’s Pantry, is available here: or you can call the SNAP office at 508-929-8957.

    Mailing Policy
    From September to May (but not between semesters), the Financial Aid Office sends mail to students via their residence hall mail box, if they reside on campus, or to their home address, if they do not reside on campus. During the summer months everything is mailed to the home address. Whenever possible, the Financial Aid Office also sends announcements to students through the regular What’s Up at Woo University emails.