Evaluating Need

Financing a WAU education is a critical aspect in determining your ability to attend our University. At WAU, we are committed to assisting families to make the most of their financial aid dollars and to treat families equitably while maintaining flexibility in recognizing unusual situations. Each financial aid application file is given a personal review by experienced staff in the Office of Student Financial Services. In addition to submitting the required documentation, you are welcome to include any information you believe will help us understand your family’s financial circumstances.

The following factors are used in determining a student’s eligibility for need-based assistance.

Determining the Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance is determined by the University and is an estimate of the educational and miscellaneous expenses a student will occur during the nine-month academic year. An educational expense budget is calculated for each financial aid applicant. These expenses include direct costs such as tuition, fees, room, and board as well as indirect costs which are standard allowances for books, supplies, personal expenses, and transportation.

Calculating the Expected Family Contribution

WAU uses the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as the primary determinant in calculating the family contribution. The Office of Student Financial Services evaluates each student’s application using federal and institutional methodologies to assess the family’s financial resources. During the review, attention is given to individual family circumstances. Based on this information, a determination is made as to what the family could expect to contribute toward the student’s annual educational expenses following the appropriate federal and University policies.

Financial Need is Determined

Demonstrated financial need of each student is the difference between the cost of attendance and the calculated family contribution. The calculated need determines the student’s eligibility for financial assistance.

Calculating a Financial Aid Award

Eligibility for government grants is determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Campus-based federal funds are awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis until the funds have been depleted. Additional need-based institutional aid is awarded if a need still exists after all gift aid has been awarded. The student is sent notification of the aid offer in the form of an award letter.

The financial aid award may include one or a combination of any of the following assistance vehicles: grants and/or scholarships from federal and/or institutional funds, and federal loans.

Verification Process

Verification is a process the Department of Education requires of Financial Aid offices to review select data elements on the FAFSA®. The WAU Student Financial Services’ Financial Advisors compares the FAFSA® with the information provided in the required verification documents. If a discrepancy is found, WAU updates the FAFSA® and sends a corrected FAFSA® to CPS for reprocessing. Financial aid awards will be recalculated using the corrected EFC from the updated FAFSA®, and a new award letter will be sent to the student with the adjusted financial aid awards.

Any student selected for verification is required to submit the appropriate documentation to WAU’s Student Financial Services office. Student Financial Services will send written communication to the student listing the data elements and documents needed to complete the verification process.

If you are selected for verification, you cannot receive any of your federal and need-based aid until the verification process is completed.

Documents Needed for Verification

  • IRS Tax Return Transcripts (parent and student, if applicable)
  • Verification Worksheet (dependent or independent)
  • Proof of High School Diploma (if selected)
  • Proof of Education Intent and Identity

Title IV Refund Policy

The Financial Aid Office is required by federal statute to recalculate federal financial aid eligibility for students who withdraw, drop out, are dismissed, or take a leave of absence prior to completing 60% of a payment period or term. The federal Title IV financial aid programs must be recalculated in these situations.

If a student leaves the institution before completing 60% of a payment period or term, the financial aid office recalculates eligibility for Title IV funds. Recalculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV funds formula:

Percentage of payment period or term completed = the number of days completed up to the withdrawal date divided by the total days in the payment period or term. (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.) This percentage is also the percentage of earned aid.

Unofficial Withdrawals

If a student does not officially withdraw from all classes but fails to earn a passing grade in at least one course, federal aid regulations require that we assume the student has “unofficially withdrawn,” unless it can be documented that the student completed the enrollment period. Unofficial withdrawals require a Title IV refund calculation at the midpoint of the enrolment period. The reduction of federal aid will create a balance due to the university that must be repaid.

Title IV Refund Process

Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula:

Aid to be returned = (100% of the aid that could be disbursed minus the percentage of earned aid) multiplied by the total amount of aid that could have been disbursed during the payment period or term.

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds, and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. Keep in mind that when Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him/her, the institution would owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal.

The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 45 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal.

Refunds are allocated in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans
  • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Stafford Loans
  • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Stafford Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants for which a return of funds is required
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants for which a return of funds is required
  • Other assistance under this Title for which a return of funds is required.


For more information about financial aid at WAU, email finaid@wau.edu, or call 301.891.4005 or 1-800-835-4212 to speak to a Financial Aid Counselor.

Student Financial Services
Washington Adventist University
7600 Flower Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Email: finaid@wau.edu
Phone: 301-891-4005
Toll-Free: 800-835-4212
General Fax: 301-891-4167