Frequently Asked Questions

Many students and their parents have questions concerning financial assistance. Listed below are the most frequently asked questions in the Financial Assistance office at BVU. If your questions are not answered here, please feel free to contact us by phone at 712.749.2164, or send us your questions here or stop by the Financial Assistance office in Dixon-Eilers Hall, Room 104.

Q1: Why are there so many forms to complete before I receive my award?

A1: The federal and state governments require some forms, such as the FAFSA, before they will provide their sources of funding. In addition, there may be verification forms that are also required by the federal government. Buena Vista University may also request completion of certain forms. All this information is gathered in an effort to award limited financial aid dollars to qualified students.

Q2: Why did I get more aid my freshman year than later years?

A2: Sources of aid come from four main sources: the federal government, the State of Iowa (Iowa residents), Buena Vista University and local groups. Your first step in understanding your award should be to determine which of these sources provided each type of aid you received. It is then important to determine how those awards are renewed. The amount of aid you receive is typically based on two factors: need and/or academics.; If one or both of these criteria change, your aid may also change.  Some awards, like scholarships from your community, may only be available for your freshman year.

As you may know, Buena Vista University (or any college or university) can not control your eligibility for funding for most aid sources from the federal or state governments or from outside agencies. You may lose federal or state aid from year to year based on a decrease in funding or a decrease in your financial need. Some things that could change your financial need would be your income or the income of your parents, number of family members or number of family members in college. Each student's eligibility is determined individually based on all of the information you provide on the FAFSA, but all families across the nation are assessed using the same federal formula. Please let us know if you would like access to that formula.

Scholarships from BVU are renewable based on c.g.p.a. requirements and perhaps continued participation of some kind (should there be any for the awards you received as a freshman). A student rarely receives less BVU gift aid from one year to the next, unless your c.g.p.a. does not meet renewal requirements, if a scholarship or grant was available for only one year, or your financial need decreases significantly.

Q3: If I have to leave school due to a personal physical illness or accident, is there a tuition insurance plan to cover tuition and fees?

A3: As a supplement to the Institutional Refund Policy, we are pleased to offer an additional Tuition Insurance program for Storm Lake undergraduate students through Liberty Mutual Insurance which provides 100% reimbursement throughout the entire term and covers withdrawal due to illness, injury, mental health issues and other reasons. 

Q4: Why do my friends receive more aid than I do when I know their parents make more money than mine and they live in a nicer house?

A4: The vast majority of financial aid is awarded based on the results of the FAFSA. The FAFSA asks for things like parents' adjusted gross income, taxes paid, family size, number in college etc. (The net worth of the family's home is protected in the analysis so that families no longer have to mortgage their home to pay for higher education.) It also asks for student income and asset information. All of this information goes into the formula to determine financial need. We trust that families have completed the application correctly and we base our awarding policies on the outcome of that calculation. Our awarding is also based on the student's academics. We would encourage students to not “judge a book by its cover” when it comes to financial aid: there may be things you do not know about other families that increases their financial need. If in doubt, stop by the Office of Financial Assistance to discuss your personal situation with our staff.

Q5: Why did my loan eligibility increase?

A5: The federal government, which is the provider of the majority of loan funding, determines your maximum loan eligibility based on your grade level. As you progress in your education, it is assumed that you are more likely to graduate; therefore, the closer you get to graduation, the more eligibility you have for loan. However, your gift aid total does not decrease because loan eligibility increases. You always have the right to decline any portion of that loan amount: the maximum will be provided on your award notification as an option to cover educational costs.

Q6: Why do I receive revised awards after my initial award?

A6: Your initial award is based on the information we have at the time the original award is prepared. If your FAFSA information is corrected or if you receive additional aid that was not known about at the time of the initial award, we want you to be aware of any changes that need to be made. This is our way of keeping you informed.

Q7: Why didn't I receive a work-study award? Why do some students who aren't even eligible for work-study receive an Academic Assistantship?

A7: College Work-Study is a federally funded program. Students must have remaining need (after grant/scholarship aid is applied) to be eligible for the award. Funding is also limited, so not all students can receive an award. Members of our faculty choose Academic Assistants. The funding for this award comes from Buena Vista funds, so we do not have to follow federal awarding requirements and need is not a determining factor. To receive an AA award, a student only needs to be selected by a faculty member and meet the academic criteria of a 3.2 or better c.g.p.a.

Q8: Why do athletes receive more aid than non-athletes?

A8: Student athletes do not receive more aid, on average, than non-athletes. (Some athletes may receive more aid than you do, just as some non-athletes may receive more aid than you: again, individual financial need and academics are the criteria that are used to determine individual financial aid eligibility.) In fact, we are required by the NCAA Division III to ensure that athletes are not treated differently than those students who do not participate in athletics. Because of our affiliation with Division III athletics, we do not offer any specific aid for athletic participation.

Q9: Where do I find out more about outside scholarship opportunities?

A9: All outside scholarship opportunities we are aware of are posted on this web page and on the information board outside our office. We do not determine the awarding criteria for these awards and we post to that web site specific eligibility information provided by the source of that funding. View the outside scholarships.

Q10: Why does BVU base my eligibility for aid on my parents' income when I pay for my own education?

A10: BVU does not determine financial need or dependency status: that is done by the Department of Education. The Dept. of Ed believes the parent and student have the primary responsibility to pay for higher education to the extent they are able, based on the federal needs analysis formula. We follow that guidance. Unwillingness by a parent to help with higher education costs does not negate this premise. It is unfortunate when parents are unwilling to help with higher education costs. Students in this situation can visit with the Office of Financial Assistance regarding financing options.