Scholarships & financial aid

Bluffton University administers financial assistance through scholarships, grants, loans and student employment programs. Scholarships are usually awarded on the basis of scholastic achievement or leadership experience and skill. Grants and loans are awarded on demonstrated financial need and or remaining costs.

Financial  aid and a student's financial need vary considerably. Students are encouraged to discuss their specific needs with the financial aid personnel located in Schultz Hall in Riley Court. Office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 419-358-3266 and the e-mail address is finaid@bluffton.edu.
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General Information

Parents (of dependent students), to the extent that they are able, have the primary responsibility to pay for their child's education. Students are also expected to contribute to their educational costs. Eligibility for federal grants and loans and state need-based grants is determined by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Bluffton University also requires the FAFSA to determine eligibility for need-based institutional aid. The FAFSA school code for Bluffton University is 003016.

A student's financial need is determined by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC as determined by the FAFSA) from Bluffton University's Cost of Attendance (COA). COA includes direct costs of tuition, fees, room and board (if applicable) and indirect costs/personal expenses. 

For the 2013-14 academic year indirect costs/personal expenses include:

  Resident students Dependent
 commuter
Independent
commuter
Books and supplies $ 1,400 $ 1,400 $1,400
Personal expenses $1,600 $1,600 $3,600
Transportation $1,000 $2,500 $2,500
Room & board $9,360 $1,600 $5,930
Total $13,360 $7,100 $13,430

 
Aid is disbursed to students through the business office by crediting the student's account with the attributed amount of aid at the beginning of each billing period.

Satisfactory academic progress

Federal regulations (34 CFR 668.16 & 668.34) require that schools monitor the academic progress of each applicant for federal financial assistance and that the school certify that the applicant is making satisfactory academic progress toward earning his/her degree. Bluffton University monitors student progress toward a degree on a per-term basis for academic and financial aid purposes. Students who meet minimum standards of academic achievement for continuing their enrollment are eligible for financial aid. Financial aid (federal, state, institutional) will not be awarded to students who do not maintain satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate as outlined below.

Qualitative measure reviewed each term
A student who drops below the requisite GPA appropriate for their grade level and who is placed on academic probation will automatically be placed on financial aid warning for one subsequent term. A student on financial aid warning will continue to receive financial aid. The student must achieve the requisite GPA by the end of the following term (including summer if applicable) or their aid will be suspended. A student placed on financial aid warning for not meeting the qualitative measure will receive written notification.  

It is possible for a student to have more than one financial aid warning semester during their academic career if they move above the standards of satisfactory academic progress threshold, and again fall below them in a later semester. However, the semester warning periods cannot be consecutive (see financial aid probation status).
 
  • Quantitative measures - maximum time-frame reviewed each term
To receive a degree, a full-time student may attempt up to 186 hours (150 percent of the 124 semester hours required for graduation) in a six year (12 semester) period. Original hours for failed, withdrawn, repeated courses and transfer hours (including post-secondary option and dual enrollment credits) accepted toward Bluffton's graduation requirements are included in the calculation of maximum time-frame of 186 attempted hours. For part-time students, the maximum time-frame is prorated.

Therefore, to be in good standing, a student must have successfully completed at least two-thirds of the cumulative total hours attempted. A student who does not meet the two-thirds requirement (as calculated at the end of each term) will automatically be placed on financial aid warning for the next term and will continue to receive financial aid during this term. By the end of this warning term, the student must have met the two-thirds cumulative requirement or their aid will be suspended. A student placed on financial aid warning for not meeting the quantitative measure will receive written notification.
 

Financial aid warning - status - pace of progression
As outlined above, a student is automatically placed on financial aid warning (no appeal needed) for one term and the student continues to receive financial aid for which they are eligible. However, it may be determined that it is not mathematically possible for the student to meet either the qualitative and/or quantitative measures by the end of just one term. In this situation, the student would be notified in a letter that before they are allowed to continue they must develop an academic plan for their pace of progression that will extend beyond one term. Details about how to develop this plan, which must be approved, will be enclosed with the financial aid warning letter.

Satisfactory Academic Progress - withdrawal or stop-out
A student who is notified at the end of a term that they will be on financial aid warning in the next term may of their own choosing and for their own reasons withdraw or stop-out for the upcoming semester(s). Upon reenrollment, the student will automatically be placed on financial aid warning as outlined above.  

 

Appeals and financial aid - probation status
A student not meeting the standards for satisfactory academic progress after a term of financial aid warning will have their aid suspended. A student who has had financial aid suspended has the opportunity to appeal such action to the financial aid appeals committee. This committee consists of the director of financial aid, the vice president for student life and dean of students, the vice president and dean of academic affairs and the registrar. The appeal must be in writing and submitted directly to the director of financial aid.

The appeal may be on the basis of any undue hardship or unforeseen circumstance (e.g., documented serious illness, severe injury or death of a family member). The appeal must include why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed that will allow the student to make satisfactory academic progress by the end of the next term. If it is not mathematically possible to meet satisfactory academic progress by the end of the next term, the appeal must include an academic plan that will allow the student to meet satisfactory progress requirements by a specific point in time.

If an appeal is approved, the student will be placed on financial aid probation for a maximum of one term (or for the time period of an approved academic plan). The financial aid office will communicate to the student the terms of their continued financial assistance. This might include (but is not limited to) meeting with an academic advisor to develop an academic plan, mandatory follow-up sessions with an academic advisor, mandatory participation in support services at the Learning Resource Center.

During this approved financial aid probation period, a student will receive the financial aid for which he or she is eligible. At the end of the probation period, a student who meets all of the satisfactory academic progress requirements will be removed from financial aid probation. A student who fails to meet all of the satisfactory academic progress requirements will be suspended from receiving financial aid unless there is a successful appeal and the student is placed on an approved academic plan or until eligibility is re-established as outlined below. A student cannot be approved for consecutive financial aid probation semesters.

A student appealing to go beyond 186 hours for the maximum time frame requirement must include an explanation of the need for additional hours and include a written degree completion plan approved and signed by the faculty advisor and the registrar. This plan must include courses remaining by semester and the expected graduation date.

Academic procedures and Satisfactory Academic Progress

Student suspended or dismissed but successfully appealed
A student who has been suspended or dismissed for academic reasons has the right to appeal by submitting a letter and supporting documentation to the registrar. If the appeal is granted the student is eligible to continue in their academic program. Because the student's financial aid may also be suspended for not meeting satisfactory academic progress, a separate appeal must be submitted to the financial aid appeals committee. The documentation may include some or all of the same material used in the academic suspension or dismissal appeal. However, the satisfactory academic progress appeal must be written to the financial aid appeals committee and submitted in its entirety to the director of financial aid. If the appeal is granted, the student will be on financial aid probation for one term (or for the period of time in an approved academic plan). If the appeal is denied, the student can re-establish eligibility for financial aid as outlined below.

Suspension
A student who was suspended from the university for not meeting minimum standards of academic achievement is eligible after one semester (not including summer) to apply for readmission. Readmission in and of itself does not meet the requirements for receiving financial aid under satisfactory academic progress rules. The student must write an appeal as outlined above to the financial aid appeals committee. This appeal must include an approved academic plan that is to be submitted within the first two weeks of the academic term. If the appeal is granted, the student will be on financial aid probation for one term (or for the period of time in an approved academic plan). If the appeal is denied, the student can re-establish eligibility for financial aid as outlined below.
 

Re-establishing eligibility
Students may re-establish eligibility by improving their completed courses and grade point averages through Bluffton University at their own expense. Students should contact the financial aid office at the end of the next semester in which two-thirds or more of the hours attempted have been completed.  

Repeated coursework
A student who repeats a failed course will receive financial aid for the repeated course each time it is attempted. A student who repeats a previously passed course in order to receive a higher grade can only receive financial aid for the repeated course one time. Note that credits for all attempted courses, including repeated courses, count in the maximum time frame calculation
 

Application procedures

Students seeking financial aid are required to complete and submit the FAFSA. Electronic submission of the FAFSA, FAFSA on the Web (FOTW), is the recommended method for completing the FAFSA. The Web address is www.fafsa.gov. The federal school code for Bluffton University is 003016. A financial aid award notice is generated and sent to the accepted or continuing student when FAFSA data is received and required documentation is on file.

Important! Prior to completing FOTW, both the student and at least one parent must apply for a PIN (Personal Identification Number). The PIN serves as the electronic signature and saves considerable time in receiving FAFSA results. The PIN Web site is: www.pin.ed.gov.

Corrections to the FAFSA can be made on the Web at www.fafsa.gov. Corrections can also be made electronically by the financial aid office. Whether made by the student or the financial aid office, correction results are sent both to the student and to the financial aid office. A revised financial aid award notice is generated and sent to the accepted or continuing student when FAFSA data is received and required documentation is on file.

Deadlines
Students should be aware of application deadlines established by off-campus sources of aid including state and federal agencies. These deadlines are announced about one year before the beginning of the academic year. Because of limited resources, the State of Ohio maintains an Oct. 1 deadline for Ohio need-based aid (the Ohio College Opportunity Grant). Bluffton University need-based aid is also limited. Therefore, Bluffton University maintains a FAFSA priority deadline of May 1 for both new and returning students. This means that any accepted first-time or returning student filing the FAFSA after May 1 could be denied need-based funds administered by Bluffton University if funds have been depleted. This May 1 priority deadline is in effect for federal campus-based programs (Federal Perkins loans, FSEOG grants and federal work-study) and for Bluffton University need-based grants.

Bluffton University scholarships and grants  

Bluffton University offers many different scholarships and grants.  A complete listing of these for the 2013-14 academic year can be found online.

University-funded, non-repayable aid when combined with other non-repayable aid, will not be awarded beyond what is needed to meet the total college expense budget.

Renewal policy for Bluffton University scholarships/grants
Students receiving a Bluffton University scholarship and/or grant that has a GPA requirement for renewal, must maintain the minimum GPA to continue to receive that scholarship or grant. Scholarships or grants that are awarded based on participation in a program or specific major of study may have additional requirements for renewal. A student who falls below the requisite GPA for scholarship renewal at the end of an academic year will continue to receive the award during a scholarship grace period and this student will continue to receive the scholarship in subsequent semesters as long as the cumulative GPA goes up. If/when the requisite GPA for renewal is reached, the scholarship is fully reinstated. If at the end of any semester during a scholarship grace period the cumulative GPA does not go up, the scholarship is lost. A student also has the option to appeal the loss of a scholarship based on documented extenuating circumstances.
 
Bluffton University grants and scholarships will be awarded for a maximum of four years (eight fall/spring semesters) except where noted.

Endowed scholarships
Through the generosity of friends of Bluffton University, a number of endowed scholarships have been established. Unless designated otherwise by the donors, these are awarded on the basis of academic merit. Income from most of these scholarship funds is used to support in part the university's regular scholarship programs. Students need not apply for these scholarships. All students are considered in determining scholarship eligibility.

Student employment

Bluffton University has a wide variety of student employment opportunities available to students through the Learn and Earn Program. These include office and secretarial work, laboratory work, library work, food service work, custodial work and building and grounds work. Most student jobs are eight to 10 hours per week. First-year students are paid minimum wage. Returning students who remain in their current job for the following year or work in a job related to their major field, who also receive a favorable recommendation from their current supervisor, may be eligible for a merit-based pay increase each year of $.25 per hour. Inquiries about the Learn and Earn program may be directed to the financial aid office.

Students are paid monthly for working on campus. Complete information about terms of employment is provided with the student employment work agreement. The federal programs including federal work-study, community service, America Reads and America Counts are all administered under the Learn and Earn Program at Bluffton University.
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Some students also find part-time employment in the village of Bluffton. The Career Development Center posts local job openings on a bulletin board in Marbeck Center.

State and federal aid

State grant and scholarship programs

A complete list and description of Ohio financial aid programs can be found at: www.regents.ohio.gov/sgs/.

Federal aid programs
The following federal grant programs are administered by Bluffton University: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH Grant). Additional information and eligibility requirements for these programs are available online

Loan programs

Federal Direct Loan program
The Federal Direct Loan Programs offer low cost loans to students. Subsidized loan amounts are calculated on need as determined by the FAFSA. Unsubsidized loans are not need-based. Direct loans for students are subject to a 1.051 percent origination fee when disbursed.  additional information on annual loan limits, interest rates, etc.  

Students must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Loan Counseling (ELC) to utilize these loans. Both can be completed on-line at www.studentloans.gov. Students will be awarded their maximum eligibility and are given the option to decline some or all of that eligibility. If the student does not reduce or decline the loan eligibility, the loan(s) are originated automatically. Funds will not be disbursed to a student's account until both the MPN and ELC are complete. Returning students do not need to complete a new MPN or ELC every year.

Students must be enrolled at least half-time and maintain satisfactory academic progress toward a degree to be eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans. Loan funds are disbursed to the student's account at the beginning of each semester or in a timely manner if the loan has been originated after a term has started.

Federal Perkins Loan
Bluffton University also participates in the low interest, need-based Federal Perkins Loan program. To be considered for eligibility, a student must file the FAFSA and have demonstrated financial need.

The interest rate on the Federal Perkins loan is 5 percent. Interest and repayment begins following a nine-month grace period after a student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. The minimum quarterly payment is $120 and borrowers have a maximum of 10 years to repay.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
The Federal Direct PLUS Loan allows parents to borrow up to the student s cost of attendance, minus other financial aid. Parents can apply on-line and must fill out a separate Master Promissory Note (MPN) for each dependent student for whom they are applying. The PLUS loan is subject to approval and a 4.204 percent origination fee when disbursed. more information on PLUS loans.

Private education loans
Several lending institutions offer private or alternative loans to students and families. Various options and terms apply which should be weighed carefully before any commitment is made. additional information and loan comparison tool.

*The information above is for the 2013-14 and is subject to change for subsequent years. For current information, visit the Bluffton University financial aid Web site.

July 2013