Students often ask about financial aid for living off-campus. This is different from living at home with relatives, as it includes the additional costs of rent, utilities, food, etc.
Financial aid is based on a standard cost of attendance, which includes reasonable living expense amounts meant to assist you with covering those costs (not necessarily covering them completely). It is important to understand your direct billed costs (such as tuition and fees) and then plan for your other costs (such as books, housing, and food). You can refer to your award letter and contact our office if you have questions!
When you are living off-campus, you will be charged only for direct costs - tuition, fees, parking, insurance, etc. There will be no room or board charges on your account, so the amount you will owe UIW will not include housing costs. However, you can still use loan assistance to help pay for rent, utilities, groceries, and other monthly costs.
If the amount of aid you are receiving is greater than the direct costs billed by UIW, you will receive a refund check (or direct deposit, if you sign up for e-refunds) that you can use to help cover your living costs.
Living off-campus can give you more flexibility in determining how much you will pay for such items as rent and groceries. Be sure to develop a realistic monthly budget that includes all of your expenses, including cable, internet, and other utilities. UIW uses a room and board budget that includes a reasonable budget for rent (based on nine-month double-occupancy) and groceries. Additional financial aid will not be granted for costs that exceed this budget, even if you choose not to have a roommate.
It is important to remember that if you are eligible for a refund, it will not be available to you until after the 100% drop date of the semester, if your file is complete and you are meeting the enrollment requirements for your aid. You must budget accordingly to make sure you do not miss any rent, deposits, or other payments while you are waiting for your aid.
Financial aid cannot be increased to cover additional costs such as:
Length of lease: Financial aid is based on a nine-month schedule, but most leases require a twelve-month agreement, so you may have some rent payments without financial aid. You must budget for these extra months accordingly.
Security deposit, move-in fee, and first month's rent: In addition to the first month's rent, many apartments/leases may require you to pay a security deposit and/or a move-in fee at the time of signing. You may need to pay these expenses before the end of the current school year for the upcoming year's lease, depending upon your lease terms.
Start-up costs: Many utilities, such as internet, and cable may require a security deposit and/or installation fee, if you have never had services with them before.