In the sections below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about financial aid. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact Cardinal Central
Applying for Financial Aid

You will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.

For some types of financial aid, additional information may be required by Ball State.

If you wish to borrow a Federal Direct Stafford loan, you must accept your loan online at MyBSU.

To receive maximum consideration for financial aid at Ball State, your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be received by the federal processor on or before April 15 for each academic school year.

Yes. You may still complete a FAFSA after April 15, but you may not be eligible for some types of aid.

Yes. To be considered for as many programs as possible, submit your FAFSA to the federal processor by April 15 each year.

You’ll need the following to complete your FAFSA:

  • Social Security number
  • driver’s license number, if you have one
  • W-2 forms
  • federal income tax return
  • current bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, and other investments
  • business or farm records, if applicable
  • alien registration number, if you’re not a U.S. citizen

If you’re a dependent student, you’ll also need the Social Security numbers of your parents, as well as their income and financial records (as listed above).

No. There are many factors in addition to income that are used to determine eligibility for need-based aid.

Things such as family size, number of people in college, assets, and age of parent(s) are all considered when determining a family’s ability to pay.

Prior to the 2024-25 Award Year, eligibility for most financial aid is contingent on your financial need. Need is the difference between the cost of attendance and your expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC is calculated from the information you supply on your FAFSA using a federally legislated formula applicable to all postsecondary educational institutions across the nation.

However the FAFSA Simplification Act requires that schools transition from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI) beginning in the 2024-25 Award Year. The SAI is a number that determines each student’s eligibility for certain types of federal student aid. An applicant’s SAI is calculated using modified need analysis formulas outlined in the Act. These formulas use information that applicants provide on the FAFSA® form and, in most cases, federal tax information (FTI) that is retrieved directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The most significant changes to the need analysis formulas include:

  • Removal of the number of family members in college from the eligibility calculation
  • The possibility for an SAI to be a negative number, with a minimum SAI of -1,500 instead of zero

  • Elimination of alternate EFCs for enrollment for a period other than 9 months

  • Elimination of the Simplified Needs Test (SNT) and Auto-Zero calculations, which have been replaced with similar calculations described below

The formula for determining a student’s need remains the same, except that EFC has been replaced by SAI and EFA has been replaced by OFA. When determining a student’s need, an institution will use the following formula:

Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Student Aid Index (SAI) minus Other Financial Assistance (OFA) equals need. (COA – SAI – OFA = Need)

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is the report you’ll receive from the Central Processing System (CPS).

You and your family should review it for accuracy. If it’s accurate, you should keep the report for your records. If inaccurate, it will need to be corrected and signed by the appropriate individuals and submitted to the processor.

If you provided an email address on your FAFSA, you will receive an email instructing you to review your electronic SAR.

You must complete a FAFSA each year to receive financial aid.

The FAFSA uses tax and income information that changes each year.  As a result, your financial aid eligibility may change from year to year based on your FAFSA information as well as current funding levels for various financial aid programs.

Budgets may be adjusted on an individual basis.

Please see a financial aid advisor in our office to discuss your situation.

Please contact Cardinal Central  if your family’s financial circumstances change due to a death, divorce, separation, or loss of income.

There are a number of reasons why financial aid offers can vary from one institution to another.

  • Some types of aid are based on criteria established by the institution.
  • Funding for some federal programs is limited.
  • Institutions receive an allocation, or set amount, for each of the campus-based aid programs (Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) from the Department of Education.
  • All schools have different rules and methods for awarding their allocation of limited funding.
  • Institutions have different costs of attendance, which can change a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid funding and can affect the total amount of financial aid offered from one institution to the next.

Our office is required to adhere to the standard definition of independent status as outlined by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the definition, you are considered an independent student for the 2022-23 academic year if you:

  • were born before January 1, 1999
  • are married at the time of filing the FAFSA
  • are working on a master’s or doctorate program
  • currently serving on active duty in the U.S armed forces for purposes other than training
  • are a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
  • have children who receive more than half of their support from you
  • have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you
  • were in foster care or were a dependent or ward of the court or both parents were deceased at any time since you turned 13
  • are or were an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  • are or were in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence
  • were determined by your high school or school district homeless liaison to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless at any time on or after July 1, 2021
  • were determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless at any time on or after July 1, 2021
  • were determined by the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless at any time on or after July 1, 2021

Students who qualify as independent are not required to provide parent information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships does reserve the right to request additional documentation to verify your dependency status.

A Federal Direct loan allows you to borrow money to pay your educational expenses.

To apply, you must complete the FAFSA. If you qualify, you will be sent an award notification via email and you must accept the loan online at MyBSU.

Loans are either subsidized (interest-free while in school), which are based on need; or unsubsidized (interest-bearing), which are not based on need but include quarterly interest charges.

You will begin the process by filling out and submitting a FAFSA. Our office will determine whether you are eligible and, if so, for how much. The program offers two types of loans, subsidized and unsubsidized.

Learn more about the loan process.

No. However if you need to adjust the amount you originally accepted, you will need to complete an Additional Loan Request Form.

Federal regulations require that all first-time borrowers in the Direct Loan Program must complete loan entrance counseling prior to receiving any loan funds.

The entrance counseling session provides useful tips and tools to help you develop a budget for managing your educational expenses and helps you understand your loan responsibilities.

The PLUS Loan allows your parents to borrow to help pay for your educational expenses. Your family can borrow the difference of the cost of attendance minus any financial aid you receive, or a smaller amount if requested. We encourage families to only borrow the amount they need.

If you’re interested, your parent must complete a PLUS Loan application.

You can complete a Master Promissory Note and your loan will be finalized once your credit check is approved.

The funds will be released in two disbursements. We encourage checking the box on the application that permits the release of funds to the student, which will enable you to receive the funds quicker.  Interest on the loan will begin when the first half of the loan is disbursed for the fall semester.  Repayment on academic year loans begins in March, which is 60 days after the second half of the loan is disbursed.

The Federal Direct Subsidized loan is based on need, and the government pays the interest while you’re enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is not need-based and is available to students regardless of financial need. While you are still in school, the interest is capitalized, or added to the principal, if the recipient chooses not to make payments upon the interest. Students may request to make interest payments while still in school.

Federal regulations require that you complete Direct Loan exit counseling upon your departure from Ball State. This counseling makes you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Yes. Each parent can complete a separate PLUS Loan application. The parents and student should communicate with one another regarding how to handle the funds (reimbursement, etc.).

Mail the check to:

Ball State University
Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Lucina Hall 245
Muncie, Indiana  47306

Please have the donor complete our Outside Scholarship Donor Form and email to


We do not recommend paying for a scholarship search service. Many have been found to be fraudulent at worst and misleading at best.

Don’t be fooled by the money-back guarantee, as it’s virtually impossible to get your money back.

You can search on your own by researching scholarship publications at a library or using a variety of free scholarship searches on the web.  Our Scholarships web page is a great place to start.

Scholarship checks from outside organizations should be sent to our office as soon as possible to ensure timely processing.

After Ball State receives the funds, the scholarship is credited to your account with Student Financial Services (unless you need to sign the check; if a signature is required, the student will be contacted). All such funds will be divided into two equal parts, with one-half of the scholarship to be used each semester unless otherwise stipulated by the donor.

If you have a Ball State Merit Scholarship (ie, the Presidential Scholarship, Scholars Award, Distinction Scholarship, Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship, Beneficence Grant, or Impact Grant) or another Ball State merit scholarship, that scholarship will apply to your tuition/fee charges first.  If there are remaining funds, then those can be applied to housing and meal charges.  If you are living on-campus, this will happen automatically.  If you will be living off-campus, you can still take advantage of the scholarship through one of the options outlined below:

  1. You can have the scholarship apply to rent at Anthony or Scheidler Apartments
  2. You can have the scholarship apply to meal charges through a commuter meal plan

Students cannot use these scholarships for Dining Plus, Dining Cash, Cardinal Cash, other charges, nor can it be issued as a refund.

If you choose to live in Anthony or Scheidler Apartments, there are no additional steps you need to take to have your scholarship apply to your rent charges.  This will happen automatically; however since rent is charged on a monthly basis, your scholarship will be reduced by that partial amount each month until the full amount is used.

If you choose to use the scholarship for a commuter meal plan you need to:

  1. Charge a commuter meal plan to your Ball State account. A list of meal plans and instructions can be found online.
  2. Once the meal plan charge appears on your university bill then the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will review it and make sure your scholarship  is large enough to cover the expense.  If it is, there is nothing you need to do.  If the meal plan charge is larger than your available scholarship funds, then you will need to pay the difference.  Either way, you do not need to contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  3. If you need additional meals and still have money remaining from your scholarship, you can purchase a new meal plan when you have 10 or fewer meals remaining on your current plan.
  4. This process must be repeated every semester you wish to purchase a new meal plan using your scholarship.
  5. Commuter meal plans are good for fall and spring semester (not available to use or purchase for summer), and expire at the end of spring semester each year.

Yes, we would be happy to assist you with this request.  Please complete this form so that we can release any applicable financial aid information to your donor. 

Yes, we appreciate having the donor letter prior to school starting to help accurately prepare your financial aid award.  Even though the scholarship will not be added to your financial aid award until we receive the check, we can account for this as part of your award now.  Please complete this form, upload your letter(s) and mail the check to (endorse the check before mailing to us if the check is written to you or you and Ball State): 

Ball State University
Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Lucina Hall 245
Muncie, Indiana  47306

*Please do not include information which contains your Social Security number.

It depends.  Students can receive multiple scholarships from Ball State University and external sources.  If more than one scholarship is restricted to a specific type of expense (such as tuition and fees only or room and board only), the scholarships cannot apply to more than 100% of the specific expense(s).

Students can receive gift aid from Ball State University institutional funds (merit scholarships, grants, and fee remissions) totaling no more than the official cost of attendance. Please note that scholarship amounts could be reduced to ensure that a student’s individual aid package does not exceed the official cost of attendance for Ball State University.

In the summer you are permitted to use a semester of merit scholarship eligibility and not be enrolled in 12+ credit hours. However, this will count as one semester of eligibility, regardless of how many credit hours you enroll in. A separate communication will be sent to you if you have a university merit-based scholarship that can be used in the summer semester. You can log in to Self-Service Banner to view this.

Your scholarship is limited to both the maximum number of semesters and a maximum award amount per semester.  The scholarship will not be increased if you graduate early.

Yes, you may be eligible to receive your scholarship depending on the scholarship and how many semesters you have used.  Most of our scholarships are limited to a maximum of eight total semesters.  We can take a look for you to let you know if your scholarship(s) qualify for eligibility.  We will need a letter from your academic advisor documenting the hours needed to graduate before we can apply your scholarship(s).

You may be eligible to use your scholarship while studying abroad.  If eligible, this would count towards one of your eight semesters of total scholarship eligibility.  Please contact our office at least six weeks before your trip begins to verify if you are eligible for this option.

Application Tips
Your background information provides an opportunity for you to neatly showcase your educational interests, achievements, scholastic activities, community involvement, work experience and awards.

Essay Tips
Your background information informs evaluators of what you are doing, whereas a scholarship essay reflects who you are.  Convince the readers why you are the quintessential choice to receive a scholarship.

Recommendations complement your background information and essay.  The best recommendation letters speak to your accomplishments beyond just the facts and adds insight to your unique qualities.

Thank Your Donor
The scholarship you received is a gift.  A note of thanks to the donor is a great way to show your appreciation.

You’ll have an account with the Office of Student Financial Services.

Anything you owe is charged to the account, and any financial aid you receive will be credited to that account to pay toward the charges owed.

If financial aid exceeds the costs owed to the university, we’ll mail a check to your local address at the beginning of the term or deposit it into your bank if you sign up for direct deposit.

Your financial aid will be credited to your account in the Office of the Bursar, which reduces the amount you owe the university. The remainder can then be divided into four monthly payments each semester. Learn more at the Office of Student Financial Services.

Financial aid refunds are released the Friday before on-campus classes begin each semester.

If you live in a residence hall, you must contact your hall director to pick up your check.

Refunds are issued daily throughout the semester if our office receives additional funds to be credited to your account with the Office of Student Financial Services.