Financial Aid


Disclosure & Policies 

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires that postsecondary institutions participating in federal student aid programs disclose information from various administrative areas to students. The information to be disclosed here is intended to support University of North Carolina Wilmington's compliance with federal law. Visit the HEOA website for more information. 

General Institutional Information 

Academic Year Definition

For the purpose of awarding federal financial aid, the definition of an academic year is 24 credits and 32 weeks of instructional time. The academic year consists of a fall semester and spring semester. Specific dates of the semester can be found on the academic calendar. The financial aid award year runs from July 1 through June 30. A summer session is considered a trailer for the purposes of awarding federal, state and institutional financial aid. Students must be enrolled at half-time status to receive direct student loans during the summer session. Fall and spring semesters may contain late start classes and mini-sessions of less than 16 weeks.


The University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Ga., 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of UNC Wilmington.

Availability of Forms and Instructions

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online. The Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid does not have any paper versions of the FAFSA. If you need a paper application, please contact the Department of Education directly at 1-800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3243). If you are hearing impaired and need assistance, contact the Department of Education TTY line at 1-800-730-8913. You may apply for a Federal Student Aid identification number (FSAID) via the Department of Education online. 

The financial aid process is outlined at All Forms are are also available online. 

Awarding Title IV Funds

Each year, UNCW estimates the Cost of Attendance (COA) to determine your financial need and aid eligibility.  The COA includes both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs, such as tuition and fees, are paid directly to UNCW.  Items such as transportation, books and supplies are indirect and can vary for each student. 

Application procedures, forms and deadlines 

To receive federal or state financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA.  In some instances, additional documentation, such as tax transcripts, birth certificates, proof of citizenship, or Social Security cards, is required.  Students will be notified via their UNCW e-mail account if additional documentation is needed.  The prompt submission of these items will enable the completion of the financial aid process and preparation of a financial aid award.  If the requested information is not provided, students will not receive a financial aid award.    

Initial student eligibility requirements  

To be eligible for financial aid, students must:  

  1. Be a U. S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; 
  2. Possess  a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate; 
  3. Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN); 
  4. Register with the Selective Service (males between the age of 18 and 25) 
  5. Not have been convicted under federal or state law of the sale or possession of drugs while receiving federal financial aid; 
  6. Be enrolled and working toward a degree or eligible certificate/program of study; 
  7. Meet satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards
  8. Not be in default or owe a refund on any Title IV aid program from any source; 
  9. Complete the entire financial aid application process, and 
  10. Have demonstrated financial need (to receive need-based aid). 

How eligibility is determined and distributed among students and criteria for continuing student eligibility for financial aid.

Eligibility for aid and award amounts are determined by the results of the FAFSA. The Pell Grant is usually awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree.  The amount considers your financial need, cost of attendance, full or part-time student status, and intent to enroll for the full academic year or less.         

Qualifying students receive the full, eligible amount. FSEOG and Federal Work-Study funds are also based on financial need.  The specific dollar amount of the award can vary each year and is determined by the available funding.  Once these funds are exhausted, additional awards cannot be made.  

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Award amounts for Direct Loans are based on a combination of factors, including the student's grade level, financial need and dependency status (with an additional check against the National Student Loan Database System NSLDS).  

Code of Conduct for Student Loan Program 

UNCW's Student Loan Program Code of Conduct was adopted to ensure uniform student loan practices focusing on the best interest of student borrowers. The Student Loan Code of Conduct restrictions are defined to avoid any potential conflict of interest among school employees, lending institutions, students and their parents in the student financial aid process. 

  • Revenue Sharing Prohibition: UNCW will not receive anything of value from any lending institution in exchange for an advantage sought by the lending institution. 
  • Gift Ban: UNCW employees with responsibility for financial aid work will not solicit or accept any gift from a lender, guarantor or servicer. A "gift" is defined as any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan or other item having a monetary value of more than a small amount. 
  • Advisory Board Compensation Rules: UNCW employees with financial aid responsibility will not accept anything of value for serving on the advisory board of any lending institution. 
  • Opportunity Pools: UNCW will not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans, including funds for an opportunity pool loan, in exchange for UNCW providing concessions or promises of a specified number or volume of Title IV loans, or a preferred lender arrangement for Title IV loans. 
  • Contract Arrangement Prohibition: UNCW employees, officers and agents with educational loan responsibilities will not accept any fee, payment or other financial benefit (including an opportunity to purchase stock) from a lender as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans. 
  • Staffing Assistance Ban: UNCW will not request or accept assistance from any lender to staff a call center or financial aid office. 
  • Loan Certification: UNCW employees will not refuse to certify or delay loan certification based on the borrower's selection of a particular lender or guarantor. 
  • Assigning Lenders: UNCW employees will not assign first-time borrowers to a particular lender.
  • Preferred Lender Guidelines/Disclosures: UNCW will not use a Preferred Lender List.  Students will be told that they have the right and responsibility to select the lender of their choice. Non-federal/private loans will be processed through ELM Resources accessible via our website. Lenders who are not partnered with ELM can be processed directly with our office. The UNCW landing page for ELM will list any lender who provides loans to 10 or more students, however a student/parent is welcome to search and select any non-federal/private loan of their choice.

Completion and Graduation Rates (Student Right to Know Act)

Constitution Day and Voter Registration Information

Constitution Day is a time to commemorate the September 17, 1787 signing of the United States Constitution. Constitution Day is observed each year on September 17th, although UNCW may offer events and activities to celebrate the day throughout the week in which the date falls. The purpose of this week is to encourage the UNCW community to continue learning and appreciating this living document which, despite its birth over 200 years ago, still plays an integral role in our everyday lives. Constitution Day provides an opportunity to reflect on our government, our liberties, and our obligations as citizens in this democracy.

A scan of the U.S. Constitution may be found on the National Archives. Let your voice be heard. Register to vote!

Contact Information for OSFA

Cost of Attendance

Each year, UNCW estimates the Cost of Attendance (COA) to determine your financial need and aid eligibility.  The COA includes both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs, such as tuition and fees, are paid directly to UNCW.  Items such as transportation, books and supplies are indirect and can vary for each student. 

Credit Balances and Disbursement Procedures

The Student Accounts Office is responsible for disbursing your financial aid. In preparation for issuing the financial aid refunds on the first day of class, the Student Accounts Office begins posting financial aid to student accounts 10 days before classes start. Your financial aid is applied directly to institutional charges (tuition, fees, room and board). Any excess funds will be available to you within 14 days of the date the credit balance occurs or within 14 days of the first day of classes, whichever is later. Financial aid student refunds are disbursed to students by direct deposit. Students should log-on to SeaNet and their E-Bill information to set up direct deposit into an existing bank account. 

Students receiving refunds must understand that they may need to use their financial aid refund to pay any additional charges incurred on their student account.  Students are notified via e-mail and SeaNet regarding real-time changes via award/revised notifications. 

Dependency Overrides

The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgment decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances. These circumstances must be documented and must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Financial aid administrators may treat a student with special circumstances differently than the strict application of the methodology would otherwise permit. Adjustments can either increase or decrease a student's EFC or cost of attendance. In the case of an adjustment to a student's EFC or cost of attendance, specified adjustments may be made to data elements. The reason for the adjustment must relate to that student's special circumstances and must be documented in the student's file. 

A financial aid counselor can use professional judgment in granting a dependency override. If a student does not meet the federal guidelines to be considered independent for financial aid purposes, the aid administrator can decide to override the federal regulation and make the student independent for financial aid purposes. The special circumstances must be documented and a copy of the documentation must be maintained in the student's file. Instances where a student’s parents are unwilling to provide their information or a student is self-supporting are not justification for granting a dependency override. Because professional judgment decisions are unique, specific required documentation cannot be listed. It is left to the discretion of the Financial Aid Administrator/Counselor to request appropriate documentation. The documentation should substantiate the student’s situation and be from a professional outside the family, not a family member. In cases of a dependency override, documentation from more than one organization should be collected. The decision for using professional judgment will be made by the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid.  

Federal Financial Aid Programs Available

Federal student aid comes from the U. S. Department of Education.  The funds are available to help students pay for the educational expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation.  It can also help pay for a computer and dependent care.  There are three main categories of federal student aid:  grantswork-study and  loans

Federal Work Study (FWS) Award Terms

Federal work-study provides part-time employment for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need to assist their ability to pay educational expenses.  Jobs are available on campus and off campus in community, non-profit organizations.  You must submit the FAFSA and any other subsequent request for documentation to be eligible for receiving an award.  

Filing a Complaint

UNCW is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.  Students who wish to file a complaint with SACS should complete the Commission’s Complaint Form and send two print copies to the President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097. (To access the Commission’s complaint policy, procedures, and the Complaint Form, please click here.)

UNCW is a member the University of North Carolina System Office.  Students who wish to file a complaint with the System Office can do so following the instructions and form at the following link:

Please read the document carefully before submitting a complaint. Note that the complaint policy only addresses significant, documented, alleged non-compliance with the SACSCOC accreditation standards, policies or procedures. Complainants are expected to have attempted to resolve the issue through the institution’s complaint processes before filing a complaint with SACSCOC. The SACSCOC complaint process is not intended to be used to involve the Commission in disputes between individuals and member institutions or to cause the Commission to interpose itself as a reviewing authority in individual matters; nor does the policy allow the Commission to seek redress on an individual’s behalf. The primary purpose of the SACSCOC complaint procedure is to acquire valuable information regarding an accredited institution’s possible non-compliance with accreditation standards, policies and procedures rather than to resolve individual disputes.  Complaints must be tied to specific standard numbers from The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.  


There are situations where students and/or parents willfully falsify or misrepresent information for the purpose of obtaining financial aid that a student is not eligible for. As administrators of Title IV programs and funds, the College is obligated to ensure processes are in place to protect against fraud by applicants or staff.  The Financial Aid Services Office is required to have a policy of referral when confronted with actual or suspected cases of fraud and abuse [34 CFR 668.53(a)(5), 668.14(g)]. 

Policy for Fraud

Individuals who willfully submit fraudulent information and/or documentation to obtain financial aid funds will be investigated to the fullest extent possible. All cases of fraud and abuse will be reported to the proper authorities. 

Procedures for Fraud

If a financial aid officer suspects or determines intentional misrepresentation of facts, false statements, or alteration of documents which resulted or could result in the awarding or disbursement of funds for which the student is not eligible, the information shall be reported to the Director of Scholarships & Financial Aid for further review and possible disciplinary action. If the Director determines or suspects fraud, all information will be forwarded to the Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education, and/or the local law enforcement agency. Note: The regulations require only that the College refer the suspected case for investigation, not that we reach a firm conclusion about the propriety of the conduct. 

The Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (OSFA) must identify and resolve discrepancies in the information received from different sources with respect to a student's application for Title IV aid. These items include, but are not limited to: 

  • Student aid applications
  • Need analysis documents (e.g., Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) and Student Aid Reports (SARs)) 
  • Federal income tax returns
  • Documents and information related to a student's citizenship
  • School credentials (e.g., high school diploma)
  • Documentation of the student's Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Compliance with the Selective Service registration requirement and other factors related to students' eligibility for Title IV funds 

Some forms of financial aid fraud include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Forged signatures on an application, verification documentation or master promissory notes 
  • Falsified documents - including reporting members that are not part of your household
  • False statements of income
  • False statements of citizenship
  • Use of fictitious names, addresses, SSNs
  • False claims of independent status

Cases of fraud will be reported to the Office of Inspector General (OIG):

Inspector General's Hotline: 1-800-MIS-USED

Office of Inspector General
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1510 

Institution's Refund Policy Regarding Tuition and Fees

Federal student financial aid is awarded under the assumption you will be enrolled at least half-time for the semester. Any time you change your enrollment OSFA must review your record and recalculate your financial aid. 

For students receiving federal financial aid, UNCW adheres to the Federal Return of Funds Policy to determine the amount of refund, if any, due upon withdrawal from a course(s).  According to federal law, the Financial Aid Office must recalculate Federal Title IV financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw from all classes, drop out, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing more than 60% of a semester.

Student Accounts Refund Schedule 

Resources for Students Experiencing Academic Difficulties

Net Price Calculator

The Net Price Calculator is designed to assist first-time, full-time undergraduate students considering UNCW to estimate how much of their cost of attendance might be covered by grant and scholarship aid. Based on the information entered, the calculator will return an estimate of typical expenses and typical grant and scholarship awards for first-time, full-time UNCW undergraduate students. 

Professional Judgement

The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgment decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances. These circumstances must be documented and must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Financial aid administrators may treat a student with special circumstances differently than the strict application of the methodology would otherwise permit. Adjustments can either increase or decrease a student's EFC or cost of attendance. In the case of an adjustment to a student's EFC or cost of attendance, specified adjustments may be made to data elements. The reason for the adjustment must relate to that student's special circumstances and must be documented in the student's file. 

For more information regarding the Special Circumstances Appeal process, please visit our Forms page to access our Special Circumstance Guide for the appropriate academic year you will be inquiring about. 

Return of Title IV Funds 

Federal student financial aid is awarded under the assumption you will be enrolled at least half-time for the semester. Any time you change your enrollment, UNCW's Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid must review your record and recalculate your aid. Withdrawing from classes can affect your federal financial aid. 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. Once a student has completed more than 60% of the enrollment period, students are considered to have earned all funding received. 

If a student did not receive any federal student aid but did receive other types of aid funds, and subsequently officially withdraws, refunds or repayments will be based upon the University's refund policy

When the amount of Title IV funds disbursed is greater than the amount of Title IV funds earned by a student, a return of Title IV funds is necessary. Both the University and the student are responsible for returning a percentage of unearned aid. 

The Unearned amount of aid must be returned to the applicable Title IV aid programs in the following order: 

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Loan
  2. Subsidized Federal Loan
  3. Federal Perkins Loan
  4. Federal PLUS Loan
  5. Federal Pell Grant
  6. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  7. Other Title IV Aid Programs

Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

The Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid is required by federal and state regulations to monitor the academic progress of all financial aid recipients.  Aid applicants must comply with SAP policy to remain eligible for continued aid.  OSFA evaluates SAP each semester after grades are posted. Students are evaluated on the basis of grade point average (GPA), completion of attempted credits at UNCW, and maximum time frame limitation. 

Rights and responsibilities of students receiving financial aid 

Have a right to:

  • Know how financial need was determined
  • Know how financial aid will be disbursed
  • Request an explanation of offered aid in the financial aid package
  • Refuse any aid offered
  • Request an explanation of UNCW's refund policy
  • Know what portion of financial aid must be repaid and what portion is a grant. If a loan has been offered and accepted, have the right to know the interest rate and loan repayment options and procedures
  • Examine the contents of aid records provided a written request is made to UNCW's Financial Aid Office. Students may not review confidential records submitted by parents without the written consent of the parent whose information has been submitted.


  • Must complete all requested forms accurately
  • Must use all financial aid received solely for expenses related to attending UNCW
  • Must submit in a timely manner all additional documentation requested by the Financial Aid Office
  • Must enroll for at least 6 credits (except for certain graduate programs which require fewer credits)
  • Must understand the rules and conditions for any financial aid awards received
  • Must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling the first time a loan is received at UNCW
  • Must reapply for financial aid each award year 
  • Must inform the university promptly of changes in name, address or e-mail address

Student Loan Entrance and Exit Counseling 

Before your federal student loan is paid out to you, you must complete Entrance Counseling. The goal of entrance counseling is to help you understand what it means to take out a federal student loan. During entrance counseling you will learn about: 

  • What a Direct Loan is and how the loan process works 
  • Managing your education expenses
  • Other financial resources to consider to help pay for your education
  • Your rights and responsibilities as a borrower

All students who have not previously taken out Direct Loans are required to complete entrance counseling

A mandatory information session which takes place when you graduate or attend school less than half-time that explains your loan repayment responsibilities and when repayment begins is called exit counseling. Exit counseling sessions may be conducted in person with OSFA or online

Student Loan Repayment and Deferment Information

Federal and nonfederal student loans are funds that must be repaid, even if you experience financial difficulties.  Therefore, when deciding whether to borrow, you should examine your need for assistance and your future ability to repay. The precise terms of the both federal and nonfederal loans are contained in the promissory notes that borrowers must sign.

A  deferment is a period during which repayment of the principal and interest of your loan is temporarily delayed.  You are still responsible for paying the interest that accumulates during the deferment period, but your payment is not due during the deferment period. If you don't pay the interest on your loan during deferment, it may be capitalized (added to your principal balance), and the amount you pay in the future will be even higher.


A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal grants because it requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching. 

Terms and Conditions of Financial Aid Awards

Please read carefully the following rights and responsibilities of your financial aid awards.

1. I understand that by applying for and receiving financial aid my tuition and fee due date has been extended beyond the payment due date and that if I do not withdraw from the courses I will be responsible for the course charges.

2. I understand that I am obligated to pay in full to UNCW the amount due for tuition/fees if I do not complete all appropriate paperwork, qualify for aid, or receive enough funding to cover all costs. This includes any remaining balances that are a result of withdrawing or canceling my classes. I understand that any Federal, State, Institutional or external source of financial aid, as well as any student fee refunds, will be applied to any outstanding balance on my account, including bookstore charges.

3. I understand that non-attendance by itself does not relieve me of financial responsibility for the courses in which I am enrolled and I am responsible for properly dropping and/or withdrawing from courses that I do not plan to attend.

4. I understand that the university sends legally binding electronic notifications (e-mails) to my official UNCW e-mail account to communicate important updates, and I am responsible for checking and reading all correspondence sent to this email address.

5. I understand that my financial aid award may be projected at full time enrollment and will be adjusted based on my actual enrollment. Even if I change my class schedule after I have accepted the awards the amounts and types of financial aid awards are subject to change.

6. I understand that I must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours in order to receive a Federal Direct Student Loan.

7. I understand that if I have a credit balance after all charges are paid, I will receive the balance through the refund method I chose when I activated my E-bill account.

8. .I understand that if I stop attending classes or withdraw completely before completing a minimum of 60% of the term, I will be required to repay all or a percentage of the financial aid received.

9. I understand that I must report all offers of financial aid not previously awarded (e.g. scholarships, grants, loans, and fee waivers).

10. I understand that financial aid is awarded contingent upon maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress according to the policy outlined on the college website. 

11. By accepting my financial aid awards, I hereby acknowledge that I have read, fully understand and agree to these conditions. I understand and agree to pay, the amount owed for tuition/fees, and all costs of collections including reasonable legal fees.