Required Readings

This page is designed to help you understand your financial aid offer. It reviews financial aid basics and answers many of the questions associated with financial aid and billing. It is important that you thoroughly review this information. If, after reviewing this page, you have additional questions please contact our office via phone at 319-273-2700 or email

Students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to have eligibility determined for a Pell Grant, TEACH Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Work-Study, Direct Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), and Direct PLUS Loans. All offers are contingent upon availability of federal, state, and institutional funding.

Students must also meet the following criteria to receive financial aid:

  • You must be admitted to the University of Northern Iowa and be enrolled in a degree-seeking program. Undergraduate students who have already received a bachelor’s degree are eligible for financial aid if they are enrolled in a second undergraduate program or in a teacher licensure program. Non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid.
  • You must be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours per semester for undergraduates and 5 hours per semester for graduates). If you are enrolled less than half-time, you may still be eligible for federal grant aid, but most grants and scholarships require full-time enrollment. Audited courses and guided independent study do not count towards enrollment for the purpose of receiving financial aid.
  • You must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • You must report the receipt of any grants, scholarships, or loans from all sources. In addition, if you are also enrolled at another institution, you may not receive federal aid at both institutions. Instructions for reporting off-campus scholarships.
  • You must not be in default on a federal student loan nor owe money on a federal student grant.
  • Withdrawing from classes may impact financial aid eligibility.

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance is the maximum amount of financial aid a student can receive for the academic year. This includes all scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans (including both federal and private loans).

Cost of Attendance = Direct Expenses + Indirect Expenses

Direct Expenses

Expenses that will be charged to the University bill (U-bill) and owed directly to the university (e.g., tuition & fees and on-campus housing & meals).

Indirect Expenses

Estimated amounts for books and supplies, personal living expenses, transportation expenses, and average loan fees if borrowing federal loans. 

Books may initially be an out-of-pocket expense for students. Financial aid is available to help purchase books; however, due to the timing of aid crediting, many students may need to purchase their books before classes begin using out-of-pocket funding. The price of textbooks will vary depending on a number of different factors:

  • New vs. used: Purchasing used texts will allow for savings; however, used books tend to sell quickly. Many students purchase texts online in an effort to save money.
  • Certain courses require several books.
  • Some majors require books that are more expensive than others.
  • Renting vs. buying books: Renting may be a less expensive option.

Personal expenses include but are not limited to; clothing, entertainment, personal needs, room decorations, and communication devices.

Transportation expenses are estimated expenses of the cost of traveling to and from home and to work.

Types of Aid


The University of Northern Iowa offers scholarships each year to deserving students, on the basis of merit and/or achievement.  Learn more about our scholarship programs and how to apply for scholarships via the UNI Scholarship Application


Grants are considered "gift aid" and do not have to be repaid. Eligibility for grants is determined by the FAFSA. Click the link below to learn more about the various federal, state, and institutional grants available to UNI students.

Information about Grants


Direct Loans
Direct Loans from the Federal Direct Loan Program are fixed interest loans for eligible undergraduate and graduate students to help cover the cost of higher education. These federal loans are borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. These loans do not require a credit check. An origination fee is withheld from the loan when it is disbursed. Payments are not necessary on Direct Loans while a student is enrolled at least half-time; this is known as in-school deferment. Students have six months after graduating or dropping below half-time enrollment before beginning repayment; this is referred to as their grace period. There are two types of Direct Loans; subsidized and unsubsidized.

  • Subsidized Loans: Subsidized loans provide a fixed interest rate and are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need based on the results of the FAFSA. Interest is not charged on these loans while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Graduate students are not eligible for subsidized loans.

  • Unsubsidized Loans: Unsubsidized loans provide a fixed interest rate and are available for undergraduate students regardless of financial need, although the FAFSA must still be filed. Interest accrues on an unsubsidized loan from the time it is first disbursed. The student can pay the interest while in school or the interest can be allowed to accrue and be capitalized (added to the principal of the loan) upon repayment.

Direct Loan Information

PLUS Loan for Parents
Parents of dependent students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for their student’s education as long as certain eligibility requirements are met. Parents may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid received. Parents wanting to borrow a Direct PLUS Loan should log in to the Federal Student Aid website using their FSA ID. Once logged in parents will complete the following:

If a parent has more than one student attending UNI, a separate PLUS Loan application and Master Promissory Note (MPN) must be completed for each student.

Direct PLUS Loan Information

Private Education Loans
Another option to consider is a private education loan. These loans are offered through private lenders. It is suggested that students research lenders to learn about the terms, rates, and benefits of their particular loan. Private Education Loan borrowers may be required to meet with our office prior to certification of the loan. We have a historical lender list online which includes lenders our students have borrowed from over the past three years, and still offer private education loans to the students attending the University of Northern Iowa. We recommend you contact lenders directly for the most current and complete information before making a decision to borrow. 

Private Education Loan Information


Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses.

Work-Study is different from other types of aid in that it does not credit directly to your U-Bill. You will receive Work-Study dollars in the form of a bi-monthly paycheck deposited in your bank account.

Work-Study Information

Other Financing Options

The amount listed as "Other Financing Options" on your financial aid offer is the difference between the Cost of Attendance and the financial aid listed on your offer (e.g., scholarships, grants, loans, work-study). This amount is listed to let you know how much you may need in other funding sources to cover your expenses (the Other Financing Options is not a type of aid you can accept). Please remember that the Cost of Attendance includes estimated expenses, which vary from student to student.

Other Financing Options Information

Disbursing Financial Aid

Receiving Financial Aid

The earliest financial aid can be disbursed is 10 days prior to the start of the semester; financial aid continues to be disbursed daily (Monday-Friday) after that point. If a student is not meeting criteria to have their aid disbursed at the time of the initial disbursement, but meets the requirements later within the semester, their aid may be able to disburse at that time.

Grants, scholarships, and loans are first applied directly to the U-Bill to pay charges for tuition, fees, university housing, and other university charges. Financial aid offered for a specific semester can only pay for charges for that same semester. 

In compliance with federal regulations, the total financial aid offered will not exceed the student’s cost of attendance. If additional aid is offered, our office will review your financial aid and make adjustments if necessary. It is the responsibility of the student to pay back any aid reduction that results in a bill.


If financial aid exceeds the charges on the U-Bill, the student will receive a refund. Students may have the refund deposited directly to a bank account. If they do not choose this option, a paper refund will be issued. Paper refunds are printed weekly on Friday and held for pick up at the Cashier’s window at 103 Gilchrist Hall. Students are required to provide valid identification when picking up their check. Checks not picked up within 14 days will be mailed to the student’s permanent home address. The receipt of funds will be significantly delayed if they are not set up for direct deposit. 

If a refund is received for a loan and the funds are not wanted, the entire refund or a portion may be returned to our office to reduce the loan for the current semester. UNI will return the funds to the lender lowering total loan indebtedness.

If a refund is received yet the student still owes money on their U-Bill, the student may not have granted permission to authorize financial aid to pay miscellaneous charges.

Direct Deposit

Students must enroll for direct deposit through their MyUNIverse within the My Page tab. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure the accuracy of their bank routing and account numbers to avoid delays. Students will receive an automatic email notification each time a refund is sent to their bank account. Students are encouraged to verify receipt of funds with their bank prior to conducting any transactions.

The university will initiate direct deposit refunds daily beginning the first week prior to classes, and continuing through the second week of classes, to accommodate increased financial aid disbursements. Beginning the third week of each semester, direct deposits will be initiated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.

Parents can have the Parent PLUS Loan deposited directly to their bank account by completing the Direct Deposit for Parent PLUS Loans form (PDF).

U-Bill Information

Student Billing

The U-Bill is maintained by the Office of Business Operations (OBO). OBO notifies students by email the first of each month if there has been activity on the account. The email lets the student know they have a U-Bill available to view or print on the Student Center. Payment for each semester’s charges are due the 20th of each month. If the due date falls on a weekend, the due date will be the first business day following. The university does not send paper bills. Instructions of how to read the bill can be viewed here: Viewing Your U-Bill.

Students can grant third party access to their U-Bill by creating a username and password for parents or other third parties on their MyUNIverse under the My Page tab and within the Third Party Accounts section.

The first bill for a semester is issued before financial aid has been credited to the U-Bill. If students are anticipating aid to be applied to their bill, they should check the balance of their U-Bill the week before classes begin.

Every student is required to electronically review and agree to the U-Bill Terms and Conditions of Financial Responsibility. Students will complete this on MyUNIverse via the Student Center. The terms and conditions can also be referred to on the Office of Business Operations website: U-bill Terms & Conditions.

Granting Permission

Title IV federal aid credits to the U-Bill and is applied to tuition, mandatory fees, and contracted housing/meal plans. Title IV aid may pay miscellaneous charges such as parking permits, event tickets, etc., on the U-Bill with student authorization.

This authorization will remain in effect until the student leaves UNI or revokes it. The student may revoke authorization by completing a form available from a Student Accounts Specialist in the Office of Business Operations.

If permission is not granted, it is possible for the student to receive a refund and still have an out-standing U-Bill.

Granting Permission


U-Bill payments can be made by cash, check, money order, cashier’s check, or online via e-check. UNI does accept credit cards, but a service fee will be assessed. Payments must be received by the due date to avoid a late fee (up to 1%) and other restrictions. Payments can be made:

  • Online via e-check or credit card in the Student Center
  • In person at the Cashier’s window 103 Gilchrist Hall (cash or check only)
  • In the drop-box located outside of the east entrance of Gilchrist Hall
  • Mailed to (include the student University ID number in the memo section of the check.):

University of Northern Iowa
OBO-Student Accounts
103 Gilchrist Hall
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0008

Student employee working at cash register

Student Employment

Departmental Employment 
There are more than 5,600 jobs on campus. Approximately 75% of these positions are funded through departmental employment. Any degree-seeking student at UNI enrolled at least half-time may be employed as a departmental student employee. 

Work-Study Employment 
Work-Study is a federal program for students who have high financial need as determined by the FAFSA.

Financial Literacy Requirement

All incoming freshmen students are required to complete financial literacy training. There are two options to complete this requirement, as described below. You only need to complete one of the options below to fulfill this requirement.

Live Like a Student

  • Free, 3-week, non-credit, in-person course
  • Students are entered into a $250-$1,000 scholarship drawing for each class attended

Live Like a Student

Panther CashCourse

  • Free, online course
  • All incoming freshmen have access to Panther CashCourse through Blackboard eLearning starting in the fall semester

Panther CashCourse