Parents & Families

First-year families

Below are a few topics that families tend to have questions about. By no means is this list exhaustive, but we hope that some of your initial questions might be answered.  Please feel free to e-mail Parent and Family Programs at with further questions or concerns.


Campus Life

Money and finances







What assistance is available for students with undecided academic majors?

Located in Mary Gates Hall, Room 141, Undergraduate Academic Advising is available to assist undecided students with issues ranging from specific course selections to decisions about academic majors. Students can drop in for assistance or schedule appointments at their convenience. In addition, workshops to assist with selecting a major are regularly offered. Students already interested in a specific department or major, however, are invited to contact the advising office of the specific department in which they are interested for additional information. Regularly scheduled workshops for prospective majors are often hosted by advisors in these areas.

What things should students know when registering for classes?

With over 25,000 undergraduates (about 4,800 freshmen), there are many students competing for the same classes. The Undergraduate Academic Advising Office offers some tips for getting registered for classes.

What is a First-year Interest Group (FIG)?

A FIG is a pre-packaged cluster of high-demand freshman courses offered during Autumn quarter. Approximately 50% of entering freshmen register for a FIG. By participating in a FIG, students will take classes with the same 20-25 students, so even large lectures seem small, plus students are able to meet other students with similar interests.

What opportunities are there for undergraduates to become involved with research?

The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) facilitates research experiences for undergraduates interested in working with UW faculty in a wide variety of disciplines. The URP promotes and facilitates opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research with faculty by creating initiatives that expand research opportunities, providing a public forum for students to present their work, and offering advising and other resources.

What opportunities are there for students to participate in internships while at the UW?

The Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center offers students the opportunity to incorporate academic coursework with community-based learning and leadership. The focus of the Carlson Center has been in service learning through public service internships and volunteer activities.

What study abroad options are available for UW students?

Study abroad opportunities are available in fifty countries around the world. Information about these programs can be found on the UW Study Abroad website. Students wishing to include a study abroad option in their program are encouraged to consult with an advisor early in their college career about why, when, and where.

What are the requirements to be on the Dean’s List?

The Dean’s List is issued quarterly and includes the names of undergraduate students who have attained a quarterly GPA of 3.5 for at least 12 credits.

What is low scholarship and what does it involve?

An undergraduate student whose GPA falls below 2.00 in their first quarter at the University receives an academic warning. If a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00 for courses earned in residence at the University is not achieved by the end of the next quarter, they are placed on academic probation.

Can I speak to an academic adviser on a student’s behalf?

No. According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the University does not allow advisers to talk to parents unless the student is present. If you are concerned about a student’s academic performance, we recommend that you talk to the student first. Students have unlimited access to academic advisers. For more information about Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) Advising, visit the Undergraduate Academic Affairs website.

What is an ombud?

The university community is a place where your student can learn to successfully navigate crucial situations that will benefit them in their professional and personal lives. The Office of the Ombud has been serving the UW campus since the 1960’s by providing a collaborative and environment to discuss conflicts and concerns, consider options, and develop a plan for the future. If your son or daughter is facing a challenging situation – with another student, or perhaps with a professor or an advisor, the Office of the Ombud acts as a confidential resource. They will help students think more clearly about their situation and develop strategies to meet their goals and are also available to you as parents. If you have questions or concerns about your son or daughter’s experience at the UW, staff can discuss possible options with you and help you guide your student through the processes available to them.

Campus Life

Is a car necessary for first year students?

Because overnight campus parking facilities are very limited and expensive, students living on campus are discouraged from bringing their cars. There are many neighborhoods located within walking distance of the campus and for those a little farther out, the University is served by an excellent public transportation network that is available to students via their U-PASS. Students finding it necessary to have a car on campus, however, must apply for one of the limited number of permits at the residence hall in which they are living.

What kind of recreational sports are available for students?

The UW offers over sixty different sporting activities such as aerobic exercise, archery, badminton, basketball, golf, handball & racquetball, martial arts, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, free weight room, and an expanded cardio fitness center.

What student activities can my son/daughter get involved with?

There are over 500 student organizationsat the UW. These include honorary, professional, social, service, sports, recreational, religious and fraternal organizations.

What type of computing services does the UW offer for students?

Computing & Communications (C & C) oversees a broad range of campus-wide computing as computer labs, email, computing classes, and web publishing.

How are roommate disputes resolved for students in residence halls?

Professional residence hall staff members are available to assist students with roommate difficulties. Although most disputes are resolved by the students themselves or with the assistance of residence hall staff it is occasionally necessary to re-assign students. Re-assignments can be made only after the quarter has started and after all new residents have been assigned a residence hall space.

Are the residence halls open for students to live in year round?

The residence halls (except Lander Hall, Mercer Court and Stevens Court) are closed to all students during Winter Break (from 12 noon on the Saturday after finals end, until the Sunday before winter quarter classes begin). The residence halls remain open over the Thanksgiving Break and Spring Break; however, there is no on-campus dining service during the Thanksgiving Break. Students not assigned for summer quarter must vacate the halls by 12 noon on the Saturday after finals end in spring quarter

What housing options are available for students during Winter and Summer break?

Most residence halls are closed during Winter Break. The only residence halls that will remain open for residents during Winter Break is Stevens Court and Mercer Court. Visit the Winter Break Housing site for more information and to apply for housing.

Where can students store their items during summer break?

Students cannot store their items in residence halls, or with Housing and Food Services. For your convenience, we have a map showing some of the many storage unit facilities located near campus that students can use for short-term storage of personal items.

Can I send a UW care package to a student?

There is a care package program that is supported by the Residence Community Student Association (RCSA). For more information about this program contact RCSA by email at

Money & Finances

What types of scholarships are available for undergraduates?

Students interested in finding out more information about scholarships available to UW students, should visit the Undergraduate Scholarship Office.

What is ebilling, when is tuition due, and what if payment is late?

Ebilling is an electronic method for your student to view their Tuition Charge Statement. An email reminding your student to check their tuition statement on MyUW will be sent periodically to their UW email account if they have an outstanding or credit balance. This will be the official bill. Students are able to authorize online access to their statement by two additional people (for example, parents) by logging on to MyUW and using the online Information Release Authorization available as a link on the online tuition statement.
Tuition is always due the 3rd Friday of the quarter. Late fees are assessed for students who do not pay their tuition fees by the institution’s tuition due date. The late fee amount is determined by the past due balance ranging from $120 for balances that exceed $250 to $50 for balances less than $250. No late fees are assessed for balances under $50.

Are short-term or emergency loans available for students?

Short term loans are available to assist students with temporary cash flow problems through the Office of Student Financial Aid’s Short-Term Loan Program. Short term loans are offered at no interest, but do include a small service charge that is added to the repayment amount.


What health services available for students on the campus?

Highly trained and experienced health care professionals at the Hall Health Center serve students requiring primary health related services. Many of these services are available at no cost to regularly enrolled students who pay the quarterly Student Activity Fee along with their tuition. These include primary health visits, after-hours consultations, and unlimited access to the unit’s Wellness Resource Center.

What counseling services are available for students?

Currently enrolled students may go to the Counseling Center for help with study skills, career decisions, substance abuse, and personal problems such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, or depression.

Are there resources for students who are feeling homesick?

If your son or daughter is feeling homesick, you can encourage them to get involved. Students can always talk to their RA (Resident Adviser) to see what upcoming residence hall events they can attend. The UW and HFS staff plan a wide variety of events throughout each quarter to help students meet new friends, and take healthy breaks while they study. Attending these events and meeting new people can help students find a social niche on campus. The Counseling Center is also a good resource for students who are struggling with homesickness.


How safe is the UW campus?

The UW campus is safe while subject to many of the problems that occur in an urban city. The UW Police Department has the primary responsibility for law enforcement on campus.

My student has a class/job in the evening on campus. Does the UW offer any service for them for their safety?

The UW offers two services for students on campus in the evenings and weekends. Students may call UWCARES (206 685-WALK) to have a team of two students walk with them on campus at night. It serves the majority of campus including dorms, fraternities & sororities and the main commuter parking lot. It operates from 5:30 pm to 12:30 am, Sunday through Thursday during Autumn and Winter quarters and from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am, Sunday through Thursday during Spring quarter.

For students living off campus, the Night Ride shuttle operates Sunday through Thursday, Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters from 8:00 pm to 12:15 am and will take students from campus to their destination in three zones within one mile north, east and west of campus. Rides are free with a U-PASS. The shuttle picks up passengers every 15 minutes at five stops at the Communication Building, the HUB, Stevens Way at Garfield Lane, southwest of Meany Hall, and at the flagpole southeast of Parrington Hall.


What are transportation options from the airport to the UW campus?

Sea-Tac International Airport is roughly 20 miles south of the University campus. By car, it takes about 25 minutes to get from campus to the airport. In heavy traffic, it takes about 40 minutes to get from campus to the airport. For more information on transportation options for you and your student, check out the website put together by First Year Programs.

What is a U-PASS?

U-PASS powered by ORCA is a universal program for all eligible students on the Seattle campus. All students who pay the Service & Activities Fee (SAF) are U-PASS members and are required to pay the U-PASS fee. Students not eligible for Universal U-PASS can purchase U-PASS membership. The U-PASS allows students unlimited rides on King County Metro, many local transit services, water taxis and more. Because U-PASS is so flexible and local parking is so expensive (about $200 a quarter) and difficult to find, there is really no reason for your student to bring their car.

How does my student receive their U-PASS?

The U-PASS is a chip located in the Husky Card (UW ID card).  Students will need to activate their U-PASS by tapping their card on the ORCA reader within 60 days of U-PASS issuance. Tapping your card on the ORCA reader updates the chip and finalizes activation of the U-PASS for transit. Students who do not finalize activation within 60 days must submit a Reactivation Request.

How will your student get to campus and around the area?

Encourage them to live close to campus so that they may walk or bike. For a map that highlights the walking distance, make sure that they pick up a UWALK Map or request one online. Use the subject line “Request UWALK Map” and include your address. If they live a little farther from campus, make sure they consider an apartment or house along a bus line. There are more than 60 bus routes that serve the Seattle campus.

What transportation options are available throughout the day and night?

  • Day – For students who attend day classes, walking, biking or riding the bus are all good options. There are over 60 bus routes that come directly to the U District. Trip planning assistance is available online.
  • Night – Students who live within a mile of campus can ride the Night Ride Shuttle from 8pm to 12:15am, Sunday through Thursday. Night Ride shuttles pick up students at five well-lit stops on campus and deliver them right to their homes in nearby neighborhoods. U-PASS holders ride for free and the shuttles are wheel-chair accessible.

Additional security is provided by UW CARES. This is a safety escort program that will walk a student to a Night Ride or transit stop, or to a parking lot on campus. For more information call 206-685-WALK.

Should my student bring their bike?

Yes, for some students having a bike on campus can be a necessity for dashing between classes. It also provides them the opportunity to explore more of their surroundings. A non-motorized bike and pedestrian pathway goes through campus allowing 22 miles of uninterrupted, car-free commuting. If your student doesn’t have a bike, but would like to purchase one when they get to campus, make sure they take advantage of the U-PASS merchants who offer discounts at bike shops. Additionally, they can get extra savings by going to a Bike Auction held by the Surplus Store. For more details on getting a discounted bike, visit the commuter services website.

Once their bike is on campus, make sure it doesn’t get lost. Encourage your student to register their bike. Some students might feel more comfortable getting a bike locker. If your student lives in the residence halls, ask them to check into bike rooms available at some locations.


Where can I find information about local hotels and restaurants?

There are many hotels and restaurants within walking distance of the University. See the listings for local accommodations on our Information & Visitors Center website.

What is the best way to get to the UW Seattle campus and how do we find our way around campus once we get there?

The UW Seattle’s campus located in northeast Seattle covers over 690 acres. As campus is located in an urban area, you should consider transportation alternatives before visiting. Once you arrive, there are both guided and self-guided walking tours of campus and a helpful Visitors Center.

Is there a family weekend?

Yes! The inaugural UW Parent & Family Weekend will take place April 8-10, 2016 on the Seattle campus. Get more information and register now!