Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for Aid

How do I apply for financial aid?

Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online as soon as possible after October 1. Be sure to submit your FAFSA to the federal processor in time for them to process it and transmit the results to us (3-5 business days) by our “priority” application deadline. You can still file the FAFSA after this date, but filing by the deadline allows you to be considered for additional limited funded need-based aid programs.

When should I apply?

Mizzou has a “priority” FAFSA filing deadline. This means that the Office of Student Financial Aid (SFA) must receive the results of your FAFSA from the federal processor and you must be admitted to Mizzou by deadline for your application to be considered on time. Meeting the deadline date gives you priority for all funds. FAFSA records received after this date are considered for Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loans. Receipt of any other aid will depend on availability of funds.

Why should I apply by the “priority” date?

Students who have submitted all requested materials by the priority deadline are more likely to receive funds by the start of the semester. Students who apply by the priority deadline date are also more likely to receive funds from all aid programs for which they are eligible. Funding from campus-based programs such as Federal Work-Study, Federal SEOG, and the MU Grant is limited. Applying early is always to your advantage.

Do I need to reapply each year?

Yes. Each year you must file the FAFSA and submit any documents that are requested.

What are the application deadlines?

Visit the Important Dates page to find deadlines for the current aid application cycle.

Do I need to meet certain academic criteria in order to receive financial aid?

Yes. You must maintain satisfactory academic progress towards your degree in order to qualify for aid each year. Visit our Satisfactory Academic Progress page for more information.

Filling Out the FAFSA

How do I become “independent” of my parent(s)?

The federal government has established criteria for classifying financial aid recipients as dependent or independent. If you are dependent (not self-supporting according to federal criteria), you are required to provide parent information when you file the FAFSA. If you are independent, you will not be required to provide parental information on the FAFSA.

You would be considered “independent” for financial aid purposes if you met one of the following thirteen criteria:

  • You would be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year (e.g. born before January 1, 1994 for the 2017-2018 award year);
    enrolled in a masters or doctorate program (beyond a bachelor’s degree)
  • Be legally married at the time the student signs the application;
  • Have children for whom you provide more than 50% support;
  • Have legal dependents other than a spouse or children who receive more than half their support from you;
  • Have been in foster care, an orphan (both parents deceased at any time since the age of 13), or a dependent or ward of the court;
  • Be an emancipated minor as determined by a court in state of legal residence;
  • Be in legal guardianship as determined by a court in state of legal residence;
  • Been determined by a homeless liaison to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless;
  • Been determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless;
  • Been 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;
  • Be currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training; or
  • Be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or currently in active duty (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you are considered dependent on your parent(s) and will be required to provide their information on the FAFSA. If you think you have extenuating circumstances that would exempt you from including parental information, contact your financial aid advisor.

If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used when I’m completing the FAFSA?

If your natural parents are separated or divorced, complete the FAFSA providing information for your custodial parent. If you lived with neither parent, complete the FAFSA providing information for the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include your step parent’s financial information on the FAFSA, and parent and step parent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA.

Example: You have been living with your mother and stepfather for the past 12 months. You would use your mother’s income and stepfather’s income, and you would report on the FAFSA as the number in family: yourself, your mother, your stepfather, and any other children that they support. You also would report your mother’s marital status as married.

Learn more about listing parent information on the FAFSA on our Parents & Families page.

My parents got divorced, but they filed a joint federal tax return. How do I fill out the FAFSA?

When completing the FAFSA, only provide income information from the tax return for the parent who qualifies as your responsible parent.

Learn more about listing parent information on the FAFSA on our Parents & Families page.

My parents don’t claim me on their tax return and don’t give me any money. Can I file as “independent”?

Whether or not your parent(s) claimed you on their tax return has no bearing on your being considered independent. The Higher Education Act of 1992 established requirements for establishing independence. In addition, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act expanded the criteria under which an undergraduate student is considered independent for Title IV purposes. See the section titled How do I become “Independent” of my parent(s) for the independent criteria.

I’m going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for aid. Can I fill out my FAFSA as “married”?

No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA.

I originally reported $3,000 in savings on my FAFSA. I have since purchased a car with the savings. Can I correct this?

No. You must report asset information as of the date you sign the original FAFSA. You cannot update your asset information.

Receiving and Using Your Financial Aid

When will I find out about my financial aid package?

Official award notifications for first-time freshmen applicants are mailed in early April. Award notifications for continuing/transfer applicants will be available by early July.

My scholarship check was sent directly to me. What should I do with it?

Your scholarship check should be mailed to our office at 11 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. Be sure to include your MU student number on any correspondence. We will record the scholarship as part of your total student aid package, and it will then be applied to your Cashier’s account. Note that receipt of any additional assistance may have an effect on financial aid you have already been awarded.

I deposit my financial aid in my savings account and withdraw it as I need it. Do I need to include the financial aid when I report my “Cash, Savings, Checking” on my FAFSA?

No. Do not include any funds from financial aid grant, loan, work or scholarship programs which you may have in your savings and/or checking accounts.

I want to move off campus. Can I use financial aid to pay for my off campus housing?

Yes. If your financial aid exceeds your balance due on your cashiers bill, the Cashiers Office will send you a refund check to your local mailing address or to your personal bank account if you have direct deposit set up. You can set up to receive direct deposits in myZou (click on your Student Center under the Finances Tab you will find the link to Manage Direct Deposits).

Student/Parent Loans

How many hours do I have to be enrolled in during Fall and Spring Semesters to receive Federal Direct Student Loans?

If you are an undergraduate student, you will need to be enrolled in at least 6 hours. If you are a graduate/professional student, you will need to be enrolled in at least 4.5 hours. If you are a post-comp (passed comprehensive exams) graduate student, you will need to be enrolled in at least 2 credit hours.

My parent applied for a Parent Plus loan. How long will it take to process?

The Parent Plus Loan generally takes 7-10 business days to process. Once a credit decision has been made, your parent will receive two letters one from Federal Direct Loans and the other from our office with additional information regarding the future processing of the loan.

Are Parent Plus loan refund checks sent to the parent or the student?

Parent Plus loan refund checks are always sent to the parent. However if your parent wants the refund to be sent to you the student instead, that can be indicated as they complete the Parent PLUS Loan Application.

Endowed Scholarships

What does “endowed scholarship” mean?

Scholarships are education funds that do not have to be repaid. Eligibility is based on criteria established by the donor, which may include merit, need or special characteristics, such as ethnicity or area of academic interest.

How do I apply for endowed scholarships?

To apply for endowed scholarships, visit our Scholarships webpage for information.

Do I have to apply for each scholarship individually?

No, you only have to fill out the application once and you will be considered for any scholarships for which you qualify.

If I qualify for a scholarship, does that mean I will automatically receive it?

No, all applications from eligible students will be reviewed by the school/college or Student Financial Aid office for final selection of recipient.

How will I find out if I am awarded a scholarship?

Students will be notified directly by the school/college and/or Financial Aid.

I have questions about the list of endowed scholarships and endowed loan funds.

Please contact

How can I contact the donor of a particular scholarship?

If selected for a specific scholarship award, the student will be contacted directly by the Office of Donor Relations and/or the school or college regarding pertinent information about the donor/donors of the fund.

How much is the award for endowed scholarships?

Award amounts vary by scholarship and are based on the spending policy of the University of Missouri Board of Curators currently in effect.

Still have questions?

Contact our office at for help.

Important Dates

For the 2024-2025 academic year

Dec. 1, 2023 - Scholarship deadline for first-time college students

Feb. 1, 2024 - Scholarship deadline for current & transfer students

March 1, 2024 - MU's recommended FAFSA priority submission date

Apr. 1, 2024 - FAFSA submission deadline

More dates