Financial Aid

FAQ - Financial Aid

Financial Aid

What is CWI’s Federal School Code?

The College of Western Idaho's federal school code is 042118.

What are some common sources of financial aid?

The College of Western Idaho administers student aid from three major sources, federal, state, and institutional, as well as a variety of “outside” scholarship resources.  Each has a different and distinct application process.

Federal Aid - All students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on paper or online.  In conjunction with our accreditation partner, the College of Southern Idaho, CWI participates in federal financial aid programs using a special CWI federal school code 042118.  FAFSA applications are available entirely online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Continuing students should reapply after January 1st each year.

State Aid - Residents of the State of Idaho may also be eligible for a variety of scholarships or grants offered under the direction of the Office of the State Board of Education and the College of Western Idaho. Some Idaho scholarships require an application directly to the Office of the State Board of Education while some are administered by the College of Western Idaho. All Idaho residents should complete the federal FAFSA application and apply for Idaho scholarships through the State Board of Education at www.boardofed.idaho.gov.  CWI distributes state grants and scholarships administered by the college (campus based programs) according to the rules and regulations defined by the Office of the State Board of Education.

Institutional Aid - College of Western Idaho offers a variety of tuition waivers and scholarships to students participating in school clubs, organizations, and programs. Tuition waivers and scholarships are offered by individual departments and interested students should contact each department for application instructions or information concerning the availability of aid.

“Outside” Scholarships - There are many other sources of student financial aid available through private foundations, companies, service clubs, or other organizations that are not directly managed by the College of Western Idaho. All students should seek out and apply for any source of financial assistance available. Many scholarships require separate applications.

What types of financial aid are available?

Grants, Scholarships, Work Programs, and Student Loans are all available to CWI students.

  • Grants are awards that are usually based on need and do not have to be repaid upon completion of your degree. Grants form the foundation of a financial aid package, upon which other aid may be added, depending on eligibility.
  • Scholarships are gift aid which may be based on academic achievement, particular skills, talents, abilities or interests, and may or may not be based on financial need. Most scholarships do not have to be repaid.
  • Work Programs such as Federal Work Study are need-based awards and are designed to provide students with employment opportunities to help meet the cost of education.
  • Loans are borrowed funds used to help pay educational expenses. Loans must be paid back. A variety of loans, both need-based and non-need based, are available to CWI students and their parents.
What do I do if I need to drop or withdraw from a class?

If you find that at any point during a term you must drop a class, please consult with your academic advisor first. If you agree that it is in your best interest to drop a class, you must complete an official add/drop form or complete withdrawal form. You can drop classes any time during the full refund period (please refer to the CWI academic calendar for specific dates) without penalty and receive a full refund of tuition and fees. Your financial aid will be adjusted automatically. Dropping or withdrawing from classes after the full refund period may have negative consequences related to the standards of satisfactory progress. In accordance with federal financial aid regulations (CFR 668.22), you may be required to repay federal financial aid funds if you drop, completely withdraw, are administratively withdrawn, or fail to earn a passing grade in any or all of the classes you attempt in any term.

If you withdraw completely from any term, you will likely have to repay some of the financial aid you received to CWI, the U.S. Department of Education, or both. If you are required to repay, you will receive written notification concerning your options once you complete the official withdrawal process.  If you attend beyond the 60% point of the semester you are considered to have earned 100% of your financial aid and will not have to repay unearned funds.  Students who fail to officially withdraw and simply stop attending are assumed to have completed no more than 50% of the semester (in the absence of documentation from your instructors) and are likely to owe a repayment of federal financial aid. Please read carefully any correspondence you receive in reference to a complete withdrawal. CWI is required to report overpayments of federal grants to the U.S. Department of Education's collection unit if no repayment arrangements are made within 45 days of being notified.

PLEASE NOTE: A class drop, withdrawal, or administrative withdrawal may affect your ability to receive financial aid in the future at any college or university.  Further information is available from CWI One Stop Student Services. 

How long does it take to complete my financial aid application after I submit the FAFSA?

The College of Western Idaho will receive the online FAFSA approximately 5 business days from the date you sign and submit it. We may require additional documentation from you, so please be sure to check your myCWI for updated information. We will then review your academic progress and enrollment status, number of credits in which you are enrolled, grade level and verification if required. When everything is in order, you will be awarded financial aid and sent an award notification (usually by email). You can accept/decline your awards online on your myCWI. The time frame for awarding depends on whether or not you need to submit additional documents and how quickly you respond to requests for additional information.

What is the income limit to qualify for financial aid?

There is no specific income limit. The FAFSA application uses a complex need analysis formula to evaluate income, number of people in the household and in college, age of the eldest parent, investments, cash, savings, checking, and even the state of legal residence. You provide this information on the FAFSA application and the result of the formula is the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) which is used to determine your family's ability to pay for educational costs.

Should I pay someone to help me to complete the FAFSA?

It is not necessary to pay someone to complete your FAFSA. Save your money for school! You (and your family) know your family situation best. When you are completing the FAFSA, you can simply use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to link your tax information from the IRS to your FAFSA.  Using this tool can save you time in the future, preventing you from being required to submit an IRS tax transcript in the case that you are selected for verification.

If you haven't yet filed your tax returns for the previous year, it is acceptable to estimate your income on the FAFSA and you will be asked to update the information later.

What determines my eligibility for financial aid?

Three components are used to determine your financial need/eligibility for financial aid: Cost of Attendance, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and Enrollment Status.

Each college or university in the U.S. develops its own Cost of Attendance Budget(s) with consideration for tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, dependent care expenses, loan origination fees, and personal allowance (or miscellaneous expenses). Your cost of attendance budget will depend on where your permanent address is (state of residency), your housing plans while in school, the number of dependents you have (if any), and your enrollment status (the number of credits you enroll in each term.) The College of Western Idaho uses standardized amounts or calculations for each of these categories and customizes your budget according to your situation.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is computed by the U.S. Department of Education's processing center using the information you provided on your FAFSA application. Your EFC will be provided to you along with a confirmation number when you complete your FAFSA.

PLEASE NOTE: Approximately 50% of all CWI students are selected for "Verification" - a process in which CWI is required to confirm the answers you provide on your FAFSA that were used to calculated your EFC. CWI will request additional documentation from students selected and make any corrections necessary.

Also, your EFC does NOT necessarily indicate your actual out-of-pocket expenses for college. Your EFC is used by CWI to determine your eligibility for need-based grants, scholarships, and student loans. Specifically, your EFC is subtracted from your personalized Cost of Attendance budget to determine your original Financial Need and awards are made based on your financial need.

If your Cost of Attendance (COA)= $8,568

and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = $1,000

your Financial Need = $7,568

From these elements, CWI will first determine your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant and then attempt to meet the remaining unmet need with other funds as available.

You will receive notification of your Cost of Attendance Budget, your EFC, your Financial Need, and the financial aid funds you are eligible for in an award notification from CWI Financial Aid after completing your FAFSA and all application requirements.

Eligibility for certain awards and award amounts are determined, in part, by your Enrollment Status. Awards are adjusted or pro-rated according to the program rules for each award. Student financial aid recipients should maintain a close relationship with their academic advisor and register for classes early in order to allow CWI adequate time to make quarterly adjustments if necessary. For more information regarding enrollment status requirements for each award program, please contact CWI One Stop Student Services.