September 2018

The WWU Family Connection newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter sent to all families throughout the year, produced by Western's Office of Communications and Marketing and New Student Services/Family Outreach.

two people sit in front of Fisher Fountain on Red Square

New Student Services/Family Outreach hosted more than 6,000 students and families for orientation and registration programs during Summerstart and Transitions this summer. An estimated 500 more students will attend Fall Advising & Orientation. Family members who wish to join their student for family programming are encouraged to register for the Family Orientation on Sunday, September 23. The new Family Handbook 2018-19 and other family resources are available here!

Important Dates

Fall Family & Student Orientation: Sunday, Sept. 23

Residence Hall Move-In: Sunday, Sept. 23

First day of fall quarter, tuition, fees, housing and meal plan charges due: Wednesday, Sept. 26

Paint Bham Blue: Wednesday, Sept. 26

Full refund deadline: Tuesday, Oct. 2

Last day to downsize a meal plan: Friday, Oct. 5

Last day to pay account before late-fees are assessed: Monday, Oct. 15

Veteran's Day, university closed: Monday, Nov. 12

Thanksgiving Break, no classes: Wednesday, Nov. 21

Thanksgiving Break, university closed: Nov. 22-25

Final exams: Dec. 10-14

Fall commencement: Saturday, Dec. 15

Winter Break: Dec. 15 to Jan. 7, 2019

First day of winter quarter, tuition, fees, housing and meal plan charges due: Tuesday, Jan. 8

Add WWU events, dates and deadlines to your own calendar

students crowd around Fisher Fountain and information tables at Info Fair

Western's online calendar offers an "Add to my calendar" feature. Click it to download the event information in an .ics file, which works with most standard calendar apps. Open the .ics file and the event will automatically be added to your calendar on your phone or computer desktop.

Last-minute advice for move-in day

five people stand in front of an open car trunk next to several boxes of belongongs headed to a residence hall on move-in day

Get ready. Sunday, Sept. 23, is Western’s official move-in day. But about half of all residents move in early. Early check-in is managed through the University Residences “staggered arrival” program. Students are given a suggested arrival time and day; those who follow the suggested time may move in early at no charge. Your student should check MyHousing to see what arrival time University Residences recommends.

Follow staff instructions for arriving and waiting in line, and only park in designated places. You’ll have about 20 minutes to park in a loading zone. After that, you’ll move your car to one of the free lots.

Suggested directions for successful arrival.

  1. Know your arrival time and how to get to your staging area
    • North – Edens, Edens North, Higginson, Nash, Mathes
    • Ridgeway – Sigma, Highland, Alpha, Delta, Omega, Beta, Gamma, Delta
    • South – Fairhaven, Buchanan Towers, Buchanan Towers East, Birnam Wood
  2. Follow sign boards to building waiting line
  3. Proceed to building unloading zone to unpack your car
  4. Move your car to visitor parking in the C lot

Find much more at University Residences' Moving In 2018 page.

The school year starts with Western Welcome Week

Western Welcome Week logo

Western Welcome Week is for ALL new and returning WWU students with events such as the Associated Students’ Red Square Info and Club Fair, late night social activities, an outdoor movie, workshops on study skills, career planning, and finance management, bus and bike tours of Bellingham and so much more that offer something for everyone. Check out the schedule of events!

Join us for Fall Family Weekend

Shankar Vedantam.

Fall Family Weekend Oct. 19-21 is filled with plenty of activities and chances to visit with your student and experience Western first-hand.

We’ll provide a wide variety of offerings on campus and the Bellingham community so your family can decide how to spend your weekend.

Featured ticketed events include "Shankar Vedantam: The Hidden Brain," local improv comedy by the Upfront Theatre, a BelleWood Acres Brunch & Tour, WWU Women's soccer and Planetarium shows.

Learn more about these events and the many others scheduled for Fall Family Weekend. Tickets and RSVP open on September 19. We encourage you to get tickets early, as many events sell out.

Explore Bellingham during move-in weekend: Bellingham SeaFeast 2018

Bellingham SeaFeast 2018 Sept. 21 and 22

For more ideas on local events and things to do in Bellingham, visit Bellingham Whatcom Tourism's website,

Bellingham SeaFeast 2018 welcomes Western Washington University families Sept. 21 and 22. Expect a good time on Bellingham’s waterfront with fabulous seafood, music, kids' activities, boat rides, fisher poets, an oyster shucking-and-slurping contest and more. Western Washington University's Salish Sea Institute, Huxley College of the Environment and Shannon Point Marine Center will be there with a touch tank and other interactive activities. General admission is free, but some activities require tickets. Please visit for more information.

email icon

Students need to keep track of their email to stay in touch with Western

Email is the primary way Western communicates with students. All students have a Microsoft Office 365 account and mailbox. Click here to learn more.

The Student Business Office: What families need to know

a student at the counter at the Student Business Office

On-campus parking

Parking on Western’s campus is very limited. All vehicles parked on campus must have a valid WWU parking permit. Student parking permits are awarded from a waitlist by seniority based on accumulated credit hours. Visit Parking at Contact us at or 360-650-2865.

The Student Business Office is responsible for all student billing related to tuition, fees, and on-campus housing and meal plans. The SBO also processes student account refunds and advises students in understanding their student account with the university.

The Student account is the student’s responsibility: Students are responsible for timely payment of charges incurred at Western. Students wishing to provide access to their account to others, including family members must establish authorized user access to the student account online. Individuals other than the student who may have a need to discuss the student’s financial information with the Student Business Office must have a FERPA release to do so. Students must complete a Release of Financial Information form to allow the SBO staff to communicate with a third party, including family members.

Student account charges: Tuition and related fees, housing and meal plan charges, Student Health Center charges, AS Bookstore purchases and other department charges may be assessed to the student account. Monitor the student account balance before the 15th of each month to avoid late fees and interest charges.

Tuition due date: Tuition and fees, housing and meal plan charges are due the first day of each term. Late fees and interest are assessed at the close of business on the 15th of each month.

Payment tips: : Paying online is the quickest, easiest and most secure method to pay the student account. Online payments made by eCheck (bank routing number and account number) are credited to the account immediately without a transaction fee. Credit card payments incur a 2.75 percent convenience fee. Payments may also be made in person at the Student Business Office. Allow about 14 days for payments to clear from online bill pay, GET and 529 plans

green envelope from WWU to set up direct deposit

Credit balance refunds: Student account credit balances are refunded to the student daily for the first 2-weeks of each term and twice weekly after the second Friday of the term. Students must set up direct deposit to their personal bank account to receive refunds from their WWU student account. Watch for our Direct Deposit Sign-up Kit (in a green envelope) mailed to students’ homes with material to sign up for direct deposit. Students may also go to, click on “Need a Code," then follow the instructions.

Learn more: For more information, visit the Student Business Office website at Contact us at or 360-650-2865.

Smart tips on managing college costs

WWU financial aid

Clara Capron, Western’s assistant vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, offers several tips for families on making the most out of their higher education dollars.

Be conscientious about financial aid paperwork. The sooner your file is complete and ready for awarding, the sooner Financial Aid can finalize your aid eligibility and reserve funds on your behalf.

Max out on federal tax credits for higher education expenses. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, for example, can reduce federal income tax bills by up to $2,500 per student for eligible taxpayers.

About 65 percent of Western students get some sort of financial aid from WWU.

Western provided about $143.9 million in financial aid in 2016-17:

  • Loans: 52 percent.
  • Grants: 27 percent.
  • Scholarships: 12 percent.
  • Part-time student employment on campus: 9 percent.

The average student loan debt of 2017 WWU graduates was $15,663, compared with the national average of $28,288.

Be serious and strategic about applying for scholarships. Students can check with academic departments and Western’s Scholarship Center to find awards they may qualify for.

Keep the car at home. Save on insurance, gas and parking fees, and get around by bus. Students already have a bus pass: the Western Card.

Don’t put off finding a job. Working 10 to 15 hours a week can actually help students manage their time wisely – and the paychecks can help a great deal with expenses. Get to know the Student Employment Center, which keeps an electronic database of job openings on and off campus.

If your financial situation changes during the school year, tell Financial Aid. Some forms of aid do not run out, so your family may be eligible for additional help.

Be smart about student loans. Some students avoid them altogether, but a reasonable amount of debt can be a good investment in the future. Learn more about managing and planning for student loan debt at Financial Aid's Financial Literacy website, the Career Services Center’s Dollars and Sense website and the Student Business Office’s Financial Literacy Intelligence program.

Western also has a special grant fund for students who have already borrowed about $20,000 but haven’t yet graduated. About 300 students each year receive Viking Assistance Grants to help students cover expenses while maintaining reasonable debt levels.

And Western spends about $700,000 annually to expand the work-study program to about 250 students beyond those funded by the state and federal governments, which also helps students keep down their debt totals.

Personal safety is everyone's responsibility

WWU Police offer a wide variety of tips for students to reduce the risk of property crime and assault. Make sure students know about Campus safety escorts, the Late Night Shuttle and campus emergency phones and call boxes.

Click here for more safety information.

Five tips for college freshmen -- and their parents

Western's vice provost for undergraduate education Steve VanderStaay recently shared with the Seattle Times what data and experience tell us about successful students.

VanderStaay also shares these tips in this video.

'Octavia's Brood' book cover

'Octavia's Brood' is this year's Western Reads pick

"Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements," a compilation of short stories written by a diverse group of activists, artists, poets, and organizers involved in building movements for social change, will be the focus of Western Reads events this year.

Learn more.

How do I address mail to my student on campus?

Sending a package to your student in University Residences? Here's the address format you'll need for all on-campus mail:

Student's Name
Hall Hame, Room Number
516 High St.
Bellingham, WA 98225

Click here to learn more about on-campus mail to residence halls.

Order a care package for your student -- and support Campus Recreation programs

a goodie bag with study supplies and snacks

Every year, the Campus Recreation Department offers care packages for students at the end of fall and winter quarters. This has been a tradition for 20 years to help student programs such as Sport Clubs and Intramural Sports.

Learn more at Orders are due Friday, Nov. 2.

Qestions? Email us at

WWU news from Western Today

Western Today is WWU's daily news source. Visit at or click here to have it delivered to your in-box.

Western Today banner

‘Modest Forms of Biocultural Hope’ Opens Sept. 26 at the Western Gallery

Five Western Students, Alumni Awarded Coveted Fulbright Scholarships

Western Washington University biologist explores how biodiversity can help – or hurt -- carbon storage in forests

Journalism Student Awarded Prestigious Gilman Scholarship to Study Abroad in Morocco

Trojan Horses and Chemical Velcro: How WWU's Amanda Murphy is Researching Silk's Use in the Fight Against Cancer

Western’s Babafemi Akinrinade Researching Genocidal Atrocities Across Africa

In Defense of Taking Things for Granted | The New York Times

Five Young Women With Prize-Winning Book Collections | The Paris Review