The Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Filing your FAFSA
You never have to pay to file your FAFSA, it's a FREE application! Filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with your FSA ID is the first step in receiving financial aid.
You can get your FSA ID here, file your FAFSA here and once you have clicked "Submit" on your FAFSA form the Financial Aid Office will begin to create your financial aid package. When filing, include the UM school code #002536; Missoula College students can use this code as well. For more information on filing your FAFSA, go to the UM Financial Aid Office website.
You are able to file your FAFSA at any time beginning the January before the beginning of the achademic year. However, in order to get the most aid possible, you should apply by February 1st so that your application can be processed by February 15th.
We suggest that you fill out their FAFSA as soon as possible, even if you do not have current tax information. A great new feature on the application allows you to link to the IRS and automatically fill in your tax information for you. You are always able to make corrections to your FAFSA at a later date.
Types of Aid You Could Recieve
Once you file your FAFSA and receive your Financial Aid Packet you will see different types of Aid offered:
- Tuition Waivers
- Federal Student Loans
Scholarships are free money given to students that meet certain criteria. Go here to apply for other UM scholarships that may not be included in your Financial Aid Packet. You can go here to search the Montana University System for scholarships as well.
Grants are also free money. Your FAFSA application is what determines your eligibility and the amount of your grant. Go here for more information on the grants available at UM.
Work-Study allows you to earn federal aid (without having to pay it back) while working part-time. This money is not credited towards your bill, you receive this aid as a bi-weekly paycheck. The Financial Aid Office has more information on Work-study opportunities and qualifications.
Tuition Waivers eliminate or reduce the tuition cost of attendance (note that they do not eliminate the fees for your courses) and this money does not have to be repaid. The Financial Aid Office has more information on the tuition waivers available at UM.
Federal Student Loans are not free money. Any loan you accept must be repaid, along with the interest and fees associated with the loan. More information on student loan process can be found here.
How To Keep Your Financial Aid
Pretend you work at a job where they pay you at the beginning of the month for the work you will do the rest of that month. So while you get a paycheck on the 1st, you have to have to work the rest of the month in order to earn the paycheck you received on the 1st. If you don't show up to work, your employer is going to ask for the un-earned portion of your paycheck to be returned.
Financial Aid works the same way. Your "paycheck" at the beginning of the semester is the Financial Aid you receive to pay for tuition, fees, room and board. The work you do to earn that "paycheck" is attending and passing your classes.
If you stop attending classes, pass less than 70% of your credits you sign up for or get less than a 2.0 GPA, that could mean you haven't earned the entire "paycheck" you received at the beginning of the semester. You will owe a portion of that aid back to the University.
Even if you are considering a private student loan, be aware that some lenders do require you to maintain a certain GPA, be passing a certain portion of your classes or not be above the maximum number of credits allowed for your degree.