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Scholarships and 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 Financial Aid House on Spring Street. Office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 419-358-3266 and the email 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 estimated indirect costs/personal expenses. 

For the 2021-22 academic year estimated 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 $2,600
Transportation $1,000 $1,590 $1,590
Room & board   $2,260 $7,790
Total $4,000 $6,850 $13,380

 
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 (including summer, if attended) 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.  

NOTE: Grades of WF are included in the calculation of GPA, but W and WP are not (see  Grading system). Grades for courses taken at another college/university are also not considered in the evaluation of Qualitative measure. However, as noted below, transfer credits accepted by the Registrar are included in the evaluation of Quantitative measure.

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. All courses and credit hours attempted (including transfer, post-secondary option and dual enrollment credits accepted by the registrar) are considered in the 186 attempted hours calculation (letter grades, pass/fail, remedial, withdrawn - including  W/WP/WF - , repeated, incompletes and hours transferred from other schools as determined by the registrar). For part-time students, the maximum time-frame is prorated. To further clarify, this measure is calculated at the end of each term (including summer if applicable), and the student notified if it is no longer mathematically possible to meet this requirement.
 
To be in good standing, therefore, 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, including summer if applicable) 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 outside of an approved appeal (see appeals and financial aid probation status). A student placed on financial aid warning for not meeting the quantitative measure will receive written notification.

At the end of each semester, including summer, incompletes are calculated as “attempted” but “not completed” until a letter grade is assigned. An incomplete may resolve after the start of the next term (see Academic procedures) but this resolution will not impact financial aid during the term in progress. The resolution of an incomplete during a term already in progress will impact qualitative and quantitative measures of Satisfactory Academic Progress calculated at the end of the term. 

NOTE:  Undergraduate students seeking a bachelor’s degree who are also pursing more than one major and/or minor must complete their degree following both Qualitative and Quantitative measures as outlined above. This includes students who change majors/minors during their academic career. All grades and credits from all classes, including those required in a previous major/minor but not the current major/minor, are included. There are no exceptions outside of an approved appeal because of extenuating circumstances. A student pursuing a second bachelor’s degree must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 to meet the qualitative component of Satisfactory Academic Progress. For the quantitative component, a student completing a second bachelor’s degree must have combined credits of at least 150 semester hours (see Academic procedures). Therefore the maximum time-frame for a second degree student will be 225 hours (150% of the 150 total hours required for the second degree).

 
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. 

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 athletics, 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 determined, based on the appeal, that it will mathematically require more than one payment period to meet satisfactory academic progress standards, an academic plan will be developed for the student at the time of the approved appeal. This plan will be reviewed at the end of each term that it is in effect to determine if the plan is being followed in order for the student to regain eligibility as outlined in the plan.
 
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 (see previous paragraph). 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 at the end of a semester of financial aid probation will be suspended from receiving financial aid. This suspension can be appealed but must include a reason or reasons different than the first appeal. If the appeal is approved the student will be placed on an approved academic plan. If all appeals are denied, eligibility can be re-established as outlined below. As stated elsewhere, Satisfactory Academic Progress is reviewed at the end of each term (including summer, if applicable).
 
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.
 
NOTE: See Academic Forgiveness Policy for a student who returns to Bluffton University after at least a five-year absence. The Academic Forgiveness Policy does not extend to financial aid eligibility for a student who was not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress at the time of withdrawal. All previous courses will continue to be counted in both quantitative and qualitative components. The appeal process outlined above must be followed if financial aid was suspended under Satisfactory Academic Progress rules. 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. If a student whose financial aid has been suspended for not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (Qualitative or Quantitative) later meets the minimum GPA for their grade-level and/or the maximum time-frame threshold at the end of a subsequent semester, the student can again receive financial aid.

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. When a student repeats a course, only the most recent grade will be calculated in the grade point average for purposes of the Qualitative measure of Satisfactory Academic Progress. 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. Students should apply online at 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.

The FSA ID - a username and password - has replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN and must be used to log into certain U.S. Department of Education websites, including the FAFSA. Your  FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create an account at studentaid.gov.

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 (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 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 four to eight hours per week. Inquiries about the Learn and Earn program may be directed to the financial aid office at campusjobs@bluffton.edu.

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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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 an origination fee when disbursed. 

Students must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Loan Counseling (ELC) to utilize these loans. Both can be completed online 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 who borrowed previously do not need to complete a MPN or ELC.

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 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 online 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 an 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 subject to change. For current information, visit the Bluffton University financial aid Web site.

August 2020

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