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Financial Literacy

Three graduates smile while wearing cap and gown in front of the UWF water tower.

Financial literacy education provides students the tools and skills necessary to make informed financial decisions, particularly in regards to the student loan process.

Financial literacy enables an understanding of how to manage personal finances, establish financial goals, and how to develop a plan to reach financial goals.

Financial literacy enables students to develop critical skills in money management that will carry beyond college. Students are better prepared to make informed decisions now and in the future that will aid in building financial stability, including higher savings and reduced debt. Regardless of your location, we can help on-campus or virtually!

Key Concepts

These key concepts enable students’ understanding of financial aid and how that contributes to overall financial literacy.

Types of Aid

UWF offers multiple sources of financial aid to help students pay for educational expenses. Our types of financial assistance include grants, scholarships, work study, and loans and are sourced from federal, state, institutional, and donor entities. UWF encourages students to initially seek non-loan financial aid options such as grants and/or scholarships if eligibility exists. In addition to the various types of gift aid offered, students are encouraged to seek private scholarships to help offset expenses. For the students that must borrow, UWF encourages to borrow the least amount required to meet your needs.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The information you provide on the FAFSA calculates what is known as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). UWF, along with most colleges, uses the EFC as the basis for awarding need-based financial aid. The EFC measures your family's ability to contribute to educational costs but is not necessarily what you are asked to pay.

Your EFC directly contributes to how we determine financial need. Financial need is calculated to help determine what types of financial assistance a student may be eligible to receive.

Budgeting Basics and Understanding UWF Costs

Our goal is to provide students with the tools they need to make informed decisions. This information provides an overview of critical concepts students should understand to effectively borrow loans with good financial habits in place:

Budgeting will help you build decision-making skills and reach your financial and academic goals. Budgeting keeps your finances under control, shows when you need to make adjustments to your spending, and helps you decide where your money goes instead of wondering where it all went.

Tuition is set annually by the Florida Legislature, with additional local and University fees set by the University of West Florida Board of Trustees and Florida Board of Governors. Questions about your tuition and mandatory fees can be directed to Student Accounts and Cashier.

Your true cost of attendance is unique to you as an individual. Cost starts with the tuition and fees UWF charges per credit hour. But what you actually pay depends on how many classes you take, your choice of housing and meal plans, and indirect costs like textbooks and transportation. For more information, review our cost of attendance estimates. If you have made the decision to live in campus housing, please review housing rates to determine which options meet your financial expectations.

The Estimated Direct Cost Calculator will help you calculate your estimated direct costs. Your costs may change based on how many credit hours you take, your meal plan selection and whether you live on campus.

A loan is borrowed money that must be repaid. Various types of low-interest, long-term federal loans are offered on the basis of demonstrated financial need or the cost of attendance. PLUS federal loans require a separate application based on credit.

Although subsidized and/or unsubsidized direct loans are offered to students up to their full eligibility, students have the option to accept a portion versus the entire amount.

When determining how much federal loans to accept or apply for, the best practice is to focus on direct costs rather than estimated cost of attendance.

A private student loan is a financing option for higher education that can supplement, but should not replace, federal loans, such as Federal Direct Loans. UWF never encourages increasing loan debt; however, private student loans may assist you in various ways to include ineligibility or to gap direct costs.

There are limits on the amount in subsidized and unsubsidized loans that you may be eligible to receive each academic year (annual loan limits) and the total amounts that you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study (aggregate loan limits).

Federal student loans have an origination fee; therefore, the amount you may receive as a disbursement will be less than the amount you accept. Although some private loans do not have origination fees, federal loans generally have a lower interest rate and are less costly overall.

Repayment is often more than students anticipate, so please utilize the resources provided to estimate in advance. At UWF, we encourage borrowing students to only accept what is needed. Therefore, we suggest students consider only direct costs when determining whether loans are necessary to supplement their educational expenses.

In an effort to provide borrower assistance, we partnered with Inceptia to serve our students’ repayment needs. Inceptia is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with schools and loan holders to provide free assistance in understanding information, tools and resources available on student loans. Schools partner with Inceptia to provide student loan counseling assistance to current and former students at no cost.

Inceptia provides services through email, phone and chat platforms. Free repayment services include:

  • Discovering your options
  • Resources for understanding and simplifying your repayment
  • Knowledge base headquarters available 24/7
  • Counseling and advocacy on behalf of the student
  • Works directly with lenders
  • Confidence to stay on track with your plan

If you have not already been contacted by Inceptia, or if you have questions, visit Inceptia to access your free services.

Additional Resources

Louis Maygarden Center for Financial Literacy

UWF provides access to a key resource that focuses on improving the financial health and well-being of all students. The Louis Maygarden Center for Financial Literacy increases awareness of and access to effective financial education. The center offers various learning opportunities, including one-on-one meetings, workshops, seminars and speaker series. The center may assist students with:

  • Assessing Current Financial Wellness
  • Setting Goals
  • Tracking Earnings and Spending
  • Understanding Income
  • Needs Versus Wants
  • Banking
  • Building and Maintaining Credit
  • Importance of Record Keeping

Default Rate Notice

UWF's cohort default rate (CDR) for federal student loans is 0%, below the national average of 1% (as of Oct. 4, 2023).