Frequently Asked Questions

General questions about financial aid

Who is eligible for financial aid?

To be eligible for federal financial aid assistance you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be registered with Selective Service, if required
  • Be an undergraduate, graduate or professional student enrolled at least half-time (except for less than half-time Pell Grant) in a degree-seeking program
  • Make satisfactory academic progress
  • Not be in default on an educational loan

How do I apply for financial aid?

Visit the How to Apply page.

I'm not admitted to Missouri State yet. Do I have to wait until I am admitted before I apply for financial aid?

No, apply as soon as possible after October and list the codes for all schools that you are considering on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Missouri State Federal School Code is 002503.

You will not receive a Missouri State Financial Aid award letter until you have been accepted to Missouri State.

How much financial aid can I expect?

You can create an unofficial estimate of the aid for which you may qualify using the ACT’s Financial Aid Need Estimator.

The Stafford Loans also have limits on how much can be borrowed each academic year. View the Loan Limits for Stafford Loans page for more details.

When and how will I receive my financial aid at Missouri State?

Financial aid funds will be applied to your university account no earlier than the first class day after the Change of Schedule Period of each semester. Federal and university funds will be applied at this time only for those students who have completed all requirements for the financial aid process. Disbursement of state awards is dependent on the availability of state funding.

If you have more financial aid than University charges, the balance will be deposited directly to your bank account if you are signed up for direct deposit with the office of financial services. These deposits are made daily and will begin after the Change of Schedule Period each semester. Download and complete a Request for Direct Deposit form to set up direct deposit.

When will I get my award letter?

Assuming your FAFSA application is complete and processed, first year students will receive their academic year award letters beginning in April. Continuing student award letters will begin after grades post.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Please see How to Apply for more information.

How much will my family be expected to contribute towards my yearly college costs?

This will depend on several factors such as your EFC (Expected Family Contribution), your loan level, types of benefits and other resources you have available. Missouri State will put together a financial aid package that comes as close as possible to meeting your need.

Once you have received notification of your awards, you and your family can determine how much money your family will need to contribute. We encourage you use our Net Price Calculator. For an estimate of your EFC, try ACT’s Financial Need Estimator.

How is financial "need" determined?

A simple formula determines your need at Missouri State: cost of attendance minus Expected Family Contribution minus any other financial aid equals financial need.

Can I get financial aid for summer?

You will need to register for the summer session before we will begin to process any financial aid. You will be eligible for summer financial aid if you have not already reached your maximum annual or aggregate limits on loans and Pell Grants during the fall and spring semesters.

For example, you are at loan level three ($5,500) and you have already received $3,500 for fall and spring. You would still be eligible for a maximum of $2,000 Stafford for summer.

Questions to ask that will help determine your summer eligibility:

  • How many cumulative credit hours will you have at end of spring semester?
  • What loan level does that put you at?
  • Have you already borrowed the maximum amount during the fall and/or spring?
  • Are you an independent student (didn't have to use your parent's information on the FAFSA)? If you are independent, another option might be to take out an independent unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

If I have already received my financial aid award letter package and later receive an additional scholarship, will my awards change?

If you do not have unmet need, your other aid would be reduced.

What will happen to my financial aid awards if I move to off-campus housing?

Moving from on-campus to off-campus housing does not affect your financial aid awards. If you move from on-campus to off-campus with parents, your financial aid award package may be adjusted.

When should I contact the office of financial services rather than the office of student financial aid?

Contact the office of financial services if you have questions regarding your Missouri State bill, direct deposit of financial aid funds, student refunds, the deferred payment plan or payments and deferments on a Perkins Loan.

Are there any payment plans that I can use to pay my tuition, fees and housing charges?

Yes, Missouri State has a deferred payment plan.

How do I know if Missouri State has received my money?

You can view your account online through My Missouri State.

When will I get my refund?

Your refund will be direct deposited into your chosen bank account after the Change of Schedule Period each semester when processing is complete.

Can I transfer my financial aid to Missouri State or from Missouri State?

No, you can't actually transfer your financial aid from one school to another. You must first cancel your aid at your current school and have your student aid report submitted to your new school. You can do this by calling 1-800-433-3243 and adding the new school code.

Your new school will then determine your eligibility at their institution and send you an award letter. You should also contact your lender to inform them of your intention to transfer schools. Keep in mind, you may not be eligible for the same amounts or types of aid at the new school, and it may delay the receipt of your financial aid.

What is satisfactory academic progress?

To maintain satisfactory academic progress you must be completing an acceptable percentage of attempted course work within a reasonable amount of time. In addition, you must have an adequate GPA.

What will happen to my financial aid if I drop a class?

Always check with the Missouri State office of student financial aid for specific details.

Dropping a class can reduce your Pell Grant and could also impact your future loan level. Loan recipients who drop below half time will start using their loan grace period. Dropping a class can also create satisfactory academic progress problems, and you might not be eligible for any future financial aid assistance.

What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw from Missouri State?

Always check with the Missouri State office of student financial aid for specific details and see financial aid withdrawal procedures.

Withdrawal can create satisfactory academic progress problems causing an automatic cancellation of any pending financial aid.

If you choose to withdraw from Missouri State, call our withdrawal procedures hotline at 417-836-6894 or our withdrawal deadlines hotline 417-836-6895 for more information.

My sister received a Pell Grant. Why didn't I receive one?

In addition to parent’s income and assets, a student’s income and assets also affect Pell Grant eligibility. You may have a higher income or more assets than your sister.

How do I become a Missouri resident?

View the residency policy for more information.

Questions about the FAFSA

When I complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), what types of financial aid am I considered for?

Once the Missouri State office of student financial aid receives your FAFSA information, they will determine if you are eligible for the following types of financial aid:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal Teacher Education Assistance Grant (TEACH)
  • Federal subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans
  • Federal work study

I've missed the Missouri State February 1st deadline for priority aid consideration. Is it useless to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) now?

No, you can still send your FAFSA in to apply for a Pell Grant and a Stafford Loan. More money is available from these two programs than from all other Missouri State financial aid programs combined.

Should I wait to file my FAFSA until my taxes are done?

The Missouri State priority processing deadline is February 1st. You want to meet this deadline to be considered for all types of aid. If you do not have your tax returns completed by the first week in March, you can estimate income figures on the FAFSA. However, it is best to complete your tax return early and provide accurate information. This will avoid corrections and delays in processing your aid.

What if I didn't list Missouri State federal school code on my FAFSA? How do I get the information to the Missouri State office of student financial aid?

This is the recommended fix: Go to the FAFSA corrections menu on the FAFSA website, add our school code (002503) to your application and submit the correction. You will need your FSA ID for this option.

Another option, though it takes more time to process, is to replace or insert our school code (002503) on your paper SAR (Student Aid Report) and mail it back to the federal processor. The paper SAR must be signed by you, and, if you are a dependent student, your parent.

You may also call 1-800-433-3233 to make the school code change.  You will need your data release number (DRN) for this option. The DRN is the four-digit number located in the bottom left hand corner of the SAR.

What can a family do if their earnings have been reduced compared to what they had to report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Complete a Missouri State special circumstance form with required documentation and summary of circumstances and turn it into the Missouri State office of student financial aid. The special circumstance form will be evaluated to see if any adjustments can be made, due to your individual circumstances.

If my parents are separated or divorced, who should complete the parent's information on the FAFSA?

The parent you lived with most in the last 12 months should complete the FAFSA. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, answer in terms of the parent who provided the most financial support during the last 12 months or during the most recent calendar year that you actually were supported by a parent. Support includes money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothes, car, medical and dental care, payment for college costs, etc.

If my parent has remarried, do I have to include my stepparent's information on the FAFSA?

Yes, if your parent is married on the day you completed the FAFSA.

My parents do not claim me on their tax forms.  Do I need to include their information on the FAFSA?

Yes. See the definition of an “independent student” below.

I am really independent. Why do I have to apply for financial aid using my parent's information?

The definition of “Independent” is defined specifically by the law. You will automatically be considered independent for financial aid purposes if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You will be 24 by the end of the calendar year in which the school year starts.
  • You are legally married on the date you complete the FAFSA (answer “Yes” to this question if you are separated but not divorced).
  • At the beginning of the school year, you will be working on a graduate, doctorate or master's degree program.
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed forces.
  • You are not a veteran now but will be by June 30th following the end of the academic year.
  • You are considered a veteran if you:
    • Have engaged in active service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard.
    • Are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for purposes other than training.
    • Were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
  • You are not considered a veteran if you:
    • Have never engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
    • Are currently an ROTC student.
    • Are currently a cadet or midshipman at a service academy.
    • Are currently a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for training.
    • Are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and will continue to serve through June 30 following the end of the academic year.
  • You have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1st-June 30th surrounding the academic year
  • You have legal dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30 following the academic year.
  • When you were age 13 or older, both your parents were deceased, you were in foster care or you were a dependent/ward of the court.
    • Answer “Yes” if you had no living parent—biological or adoptive—when you were age 13 or older, even if you are now adopted.
    • Answer “Yes” if you were in foster care when you were age 13 or older, even if you are no longer in foster care as of today.
    • Answer “Yes” if you were a dependent/ward of the court when you were age 13 or older, even if you are no longer a dependent/ward of the court as of today.
    • Note that if you answer yes, you will be required to provide proof that you were in foster care or a dependent/ward of the court.
  • As of today, you are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • As of today, you are in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence.
  • At any time on or after July 1st your high school or school district homeless liaison determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1st the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1st the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
    • “Homeless” means lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing, which includes living in shelters, motels or cars, or temporarily living with other people because you had nowhere else to go.
    • “Unaccompanied” means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.
    • "Youth" means you are 21 years of age or younger or you are still enrolled in high school as of the day you sign the FAFSA.

If you cannot answer yes to any of the above questions, then you are considered dependent and must report your parent's information on the FAFSA.

I originally reported that I had $2,000 in my savings account on my FAFSA. Since then I have used that money, can I correct this dollar amount?

No, you must report asset information as of the date you signed the original FAFSA.

I'm going to be married during the school year. Can I fill out my FAFSA as “Married” now since I will be married in a few months?

No. You must accurately report marital status at the time you complete the FAFSA. You might want to wait and complete your FAFSA after you are married. Consult with your financial aid advisor on this situation.

Questions about loans

Are loans considered financial aid?

Yes, loans are part of the federal student aid program and considered financial aid.

Why is the loan amount I signed for and the loan amount I received different?

An “origination fee” is charged for Stafford Loans per the regulations governing the loan programs. The fee may not exceed 3% of the principal amount of the loan. The fee is deducted proportionately from each payment before the loan funds are disbursed to the school by the lender. The fee is paid to the federal government to defray the cost of the loan programs.

Thus, if a lender deducts the 3 percent origination fee from a $2,000 Stafford Loan that is to be paid in two installments, the student will receive payments of $970 and $970. However, the student will be responsible for the full value of the loan, $2,000. A lender may choose to pay all or part of the origination fee on behalf of their students.

The guarantor is also authorized to collect an insurance fee not to exceed 1 percent of the loan.  If the guarantor charges an insurance fee for its Stafford and PLUS loans, the lender may pass on the charge to the borrower.

For PLUS loans, the origination fee is always 3 percent and may not be reduced by the lender. The lender may also charge an insurance fee on Stafford and PLUS loans to defray the insurance fee charged by the guarantor; the fee is limited to 1 percent.

What is the difference between a subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loan?

The federal government is responsible for the interest that accumulates while you are in college at least half time with a subsidized Stafford Loan. You are responsible for the interest that accumulates while you are in college with an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

When will my Stafford Loan be processed?

Your Stafford Loan will be processed after you return your signed award letter, complete Entrance Counseling and your Promissory Note, if you are a first-time borrower, and have enrolled in classes.

How many hours do I have to be enrolled in to qualify for a Stafford Loan?

Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least six undergraduate hours (500 level or below classes) and graduate must be enrolled in at least five graduate hours (500 level or above classes) to be eligible for Stafford Loans. Students seeking teacher’s certification must take at least six hours required for their area of certification. Enrollment will be verified at the end of the first week of classes.

What will happen to my Stafford Loan if I drop below half time?

You will go into your grace period starting the date you drop below half time and any future disbursements will be canceled. You will also be required to complete exit counseling.

How do I consolidate my loans?

Download The Guide to Federal Student Aid to learn more about consolidation.

What will happen if I don't make payments on my student loans?

If you don't make a payment on time or if you miss making a payment, your loan is delinquent and late fees may be assessed. Even if you are delinquent on your loan, you may still be able to avoid default by contacting your loan servicer. Default is the failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note. For most federal student loans, you will default if you have not made a payment in more than 270 days. You may experience serious legal consequences if you default.

What is a Cohort Default Rate (CDR)?

For schools having 30 or more borrowers entering repayment in a fiscal year, the school’s cohort default rate is the percentage of its student borrowers who enter repayment on Federal Family Education Loans and/or Federal Direct Loans during that fiscal year and who default within the cohort default period.

Missouri State University’s Official 3-Year Cohort Default Rate (CDR), based on student borrowers who went into repayment in FY2013, is 6.5%.  Additional information about Missouri State University’s 3-Year CDR can be found online HERE.  Copy and paste OPE-ID 002503