New Students -- Welcome to Western!
In addition to the information you received in your Offer of Financial Aid, we have more details that will be helpful in understanding your award letter. Use the links below to learn about student and parent educational loans, and, if your aid offer includes work study funding, how the work study program works. We also have tips on seeking a part-time job to help pay education costs.
As you review your financial aid award offer, please contact us if you have any questions!
The Financial Aid Staff
Click on the image to view the "What to Know Before You Borrow" pdf document.
Financial planning is an important aspect of preparing for, and attending college. Our Financial Literacy page has helpful budgeting and planning tips along with links to other resources including the Washington Student Achievement Council Ready Set Grad website.
- Accept work study on your financial aid award in Web4U.
- Starting in July, watch your WWU email* for confirmation of your work study. Save this email! You will present it to your future employers as confirmation of your work study award.
- Look for jobs online at www.finaid.wwu.edu/studentjobs beginning in July. Work study jobs are available both oncampus and off-campus.
- Contact the employer(s), once you determine which job(s) you are interested in, for application requirements or send in your application materials as directed in the job advertisement.
* Your WWU email is connected to your universal account which can be activated with your confirmation at: https://www.wwu.edu/webactivate/
DON’T WAIT UNTIL WINTER QUARTER! The majority of work study jobs are filled for the year by mid-October.
What is Work Study?
Work study is a financial aid award that helps you earn money for college while you gain valuable experience preparing you for your future career. Work study provides state or federal funding for a job where you work part-time and receive a paycheck, just like any other part-time job. Your work study earnings may be used for whatever expenses you have, rather than automatically being applied to housing, tuition, or other university expenses. Using their work study funding, most students work around 12 hours per week and earn at least minimum wage.
Aside from the extensive variety of part-time jobs that are available to Western students, both on- and off-campus, work study funding can allow you to target jobs that may closely match your education and career interests.
You and Your Family Benefit
Borrow less: If you work just 10 hours per week at an hourly wage of $11.50 (Washington State minimum wage), you can earn $3,700 during the academic year – or $14,800 over four years. If you were to borrow that $14,800 instead of earning it, you would have to repay the loan AND more than $2,600 in interest, given a typical ten year repayment period with current interest rates.
Opportunity to participate: As a work study student, you may work long-term with a department, gaining responsibilities and knowledge working side by side with faculty and staff contributing to Western’s institutional excellence.
Sharpen your resume and career goals: With a work study job, you gain practical work experience while exploring potential majors and careers. The real-world experience looks great on your résumé! A college graduate who is academically successful and has solid work experience has a competitive edge when entering the work force.
Why work while in college?
Compared to students who do not work, studies show that students who work on campus a modest number of hours per week (no more than 19) will, on average:
- Have higher grade point averages
- Are more likely to complete college
- Have important job skills to include on their resumes
In addition to the above, there are additional benefits to working part-time while in school which include:
- Working students become better organized and manage their time more efficiently
- Employment exposes students to more mentor-type relationships and increases interactions with “realworld” people
- Employment provides financial resources that may be critical to meeting college costs
Things to consider:
- Last year, the average rate of pay for WWU Student Employees in on-campus positions was $10.56/hour
- The average rate of pay for WWU Students in off-campus positions last year was $11.52/hour
- There are over 2,600 student employment opportunities here on-campus, only 1/4 of which are work study
- Most off-campus jobs are located on a bus-line or near campus, and may be less competitive than on-campus positions
- Because on-campus positions are so competitive, many students stay in their positions throughout their entire college career at Western
- All open positions, both on– and off-campus, can be viewed anytime at http://www.finaid.wwu.edu/studentjobs/
- If you are actively seeking a job, you should be checking the website two to three times per week!
- On-campus jobs are very competitive. Think about ways to go above and beyond to set yourself apart from the crowd
- Begin your search early. Your opportunities for mid-year, oncampus positions will be limited if you wait until you get “settled in” at WWU. Set up something now to start working right away, either over the summer or once you get to school
- Be patient and flexible! There are hundreds of off-campus opportunities reachable by bus, to help bring in extra funds while you’re putting in the extra work to land an on-campus position.
Most college student positions won’t require suits, ties, or heels; however, it is important to dress more professionally than you might for an 8 a.m. class.
Proper attire means students should:
- Make sure hair is clean and well kept
- Wear a collared polo, sweater, cardigan, blouse, or button-up shirt
- Clean and wrinklefree slacks, khakis, dark-wash jeans, or a dress or skirt (knee-length or longer)
- Dress shoes, flats, boots, or clean fashion sneakers (not your gym shoes).
Also, make sure you aren’t chewing gum or wearing a hat, silence and put away your cell phone, and take off your headphones.
Countdown to College Employment!
- Find a part-time job during the summer. Working before you start college will help add skills and experience to your resume!
- Try to save some money for the start of school. We recommend saving $1,000, if possible, to help cover the additional first quarter fees you may encounter
- Gather the original documentation you will use to complete your I-9 form for your new job. You will need to provide documentation proving your identity as well as your eligibility to work in the United States. For a complete list of acceptable documents, or for more information about the I-9, see: http://www.uscis.gov/i-9
- Acquire your interview outfit. As mentioned in the box to the left, suits and ties are not required, but you will want to have professional attire to wear to interviews
- Update your résumé. Make sure that you include any volunteer work you have done, work you did for a club or group activity or project, any paid work experience, and a strong list of skills you have to offer an employer. If you need assistance with your résumé, check out Western’s Career Services Center at http://www.wwu.edu/careers/ for some great templates and tips!
- Line-up three to five references. You may need references for both jobs and for scholarship applications. Line them up ahead of time and make sure you have permission to give their name and contact information as a reference. See if you can collect a letter of recommendation from each of them, which you can submit copies of to your prospective employers with your application documents
- As soon as you have activated your WWU Universal account, begin looking for jobs on the Student Employment Center website (http://www.finaid.wwu.edu/ studentjobs/). You will receive instructions on how to activate your WWU universal account after WWU receives your confirmation of enrollment.
- Set aside interview time when you know you will be in Bellingham before school starts. This may include chunks of time during orientation or other visits to the area.
- Follow job posting instructions carefully! The posting will tell you how the employer would like you to apply for their positions. Sometimes this includes sending an email with your résumé and a cover letter, while other times there will be a specific application to complete. Some jobs can be applied to via email while others will require you to drop off your application materials in person. If you are unclear about how to submit your materials, contact the employer
- Be certain that any communication you have with potential employers is professional. Avoid sending an amazing résumé attached to an email with misspellings and poor grammar
- Call or check back with the employers to inquire about your status in the hiring process, one or two weeks after submission of materials
- Send thank you notes or e-mails to employers with whom you have interviewed within a few business days of the interview
A Federal Direct PLUS Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) has been offered as part of your student’s financial aid award. This offer is made to help meet their cost of attendance (COA). The PLUS loan may allow you (the parent) to borrow on your student’s behalf. The following information explains more about the PLUS loan and how to apply
What is a Federal Direct PLUS Loan?
The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is an unsubsidized loan for parents to help pay for educational expenses of their dependent student (up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance). PLUS loans are federal loans through the U.S. Department of Education. The Direct PLUS Loan Request must be completed annually.
Parent Eligibility Requirements
- You must be the student's biological or adoptive parent, or the student's stepparent, if the biological or adoptive parent has remarried at the time of application.
- PLUS Loan borrowers must not have an adverse credit history.
- Parents and their student must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, must not be in default on any federal education loans, or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant.
How to Apply
You must complete a PLUS Application annually and master promissory note (MPN) once.
- Go to www.studentloans.gov
- Sign Click on In
- Enter your information
- Apply for a Direct PLUS Loan and follow the prompts
- Complete Master Promissory Note and follow prompts
You will be asked to authorize a credit check and the determination will be immediately available. You will be sent a disclosure statement when the loan is originated and when disbursements are made. The disclosure statement will include specific information including the loan amount, loan fees, and the expected loan disbursement dates.
For the 2016-2017
Interest Rate: fixed 6.31%
following first disbursement
before 10/1/16: 4.272%
on or after 10/1/16: 4.276%
What if I Fail the Credit Check?
The following options are available if the credit check is denied:
- Appeal the decision per instructions from the credit bureau, or
- Obtain a credit-worthy endorser and complete PLUS counseling, or
- Request additional Unsubsidized Direct Student Loan via the “PLUS Denial Request for Additional Unsubsidized Loan” form on our website, or
- Pursue Alternative Student Loan (funding through a private lender)
How do I Cancel or Make Changes?
Undisbursed PLUS Loan
To cancel or change the amount of an undisbursed PLUS Loan, please email our office from the email address used on the application to request the change. This request must come from the parent borrower. You may also complete the “PLUS Loan Revision Form” on our website or make the change at www.studentloans.gov.
Disbursed PLUS Loan
- Within 120 days of disbursement:
Funds applied onto your student’s account must be returned. All accrued interest and origination fees will be reversed upon repayment. Contact the Student Business Office at (360) 650-2865 for more information.
- After 120 days of disbursement:
Please contact your loan servicer directly about your prepayment options
Western makes the PLUS loan disbursement to your student at the beginning of each quarter. Funds are applied to their student account to pay tuition, fees, University Residency (if applicable), and other authorized charges. If the loan disbursement amount exceeds your student's school charges, the extra is refunded to you in the form of a check. If you indicated the refund should be sent directly to your student, it is deposited to the bank account of their choice.
Loan Repayment & Deferment Options
Your PLUS Loan enters repayment after your loan is fully disbursed (paid out). There are several repayment plans available. To review your options and to use the repayment estimator, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans.
You may contact your loan servicer to request a deferment while your student is enrolled at least half-time, and for an additional six months after your student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. If your loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during deferment. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to capitalize when the deferment period ends.