May 29, 2024  
BVU Academic Catalog 23-24 
BVU Academic Catalog 23-24

Online Program General Information

Buena Vista University online programs offer unique educational opportunities across the country through its online programs. BVU demonstrates that educational institutions can reach out and serve all people within their regions.

Online Academic Schedules

BVU Online and Programs serve degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students. Courses are scheduled in six 8-week terms throughout the academic year. BVU online courses require the completion of online coursework and do not have any required class meeting times.

Hybrid courses require online coursework and meet one night per week with the 3-credit early classes scheduled from 5:30-7:05 p.m. and the late classes from 7:25-9:00 p.m.

Check for specific term dates with the appropriate BVU online staff.

Online Student Services

A significant aspect of BVU online programs is the personalized academic advising and course programming available to students. Course offerings are tailored to meet the educational needs of students. Financial aid is available for qualified applicants.

BVU Library Services

The library at Buena Vista University is committed to providing quality library service and access to information to all students, whether taking courses at the Storm Lake campus, via distance education, or through BVU Online Programs.

We strive to make many of our journal holdings available full-text via the web. Using the library’s web site at, students can use a wide variety of databases to identify and download articles. These databases and our catalog also identify books and articles that can be requested through interlibrary loan via the BVU Library. These requests may be filled from BVU’s collection, or with material from other libraries.

BVU online students may contact the BVU Library during regular hours by calling 712.749.2203 or 877.288.2240 or e-mail the library anytime at

Career and Leadership Development

The Office of Career and Leadership Development on the Storm Lake campus offers assistance with career planning, résumé preparation, and job searches. In addition, BVU online students are welcome to attend any Storm Lake programs, including a career exploration event in the spring and employment events throughout the year. Students are also encouraged to register with College Central Network (CCN), the online job board. Complete information on upcoming events and available resources is available at Staff welcome your questions about career planning, internships, and the job search, and can consult via email or phone. Students can e-mail for an appointment.

Other web-based resources for students at a distance include a comprehensive Job Search Handbook, online career resources, and a self-guided career assessment tool (FOCUS). In addition, BVU online staff members are knowledgeable about regional opportunities and are available to students for information about career decision-making and job searches.

Handicapped Accessibility of Buildings and Grounds

Nearly all buildings are handicapped accessible. Students seeking assistance regarding handicapped accessibility should contact staff at the BVU Office closest to them.

Responsibilities and Regulations

Please see the “Student Rights and Responsibilities section” of this catalog.

Online Application Process

BVU online programs are available for students with a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. Each candidate should follow these procedures to apply for admission:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for admission at any time. Application will remain active for two years.
  2. Send unofficial or official transcript(s) from each college or university previously attended. Final official transcripts are required prior to the end of the first semester of enrollment.
  3. Applicants who do not have an associate’s degree must request their final high school transcript or GED diploma be sent to the Office of Admissions, Buena Vista University, 610 W Fourth St, Storm Lake, IA 50588.
  4. Students planning to apply for financial assistance, including student loans, need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at
  5. Students who have previously earned a B.A. or B.S. degree from another university may be eligible to earn a second bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University. Guidelines are available from Academic Advisors.

Upon receipt of the application and supporting information, notification of the admissions decision will be forwarded to the student.

Validation Policy

Registration for each online course must be validated within the first seven days of the term. Students validate hybrid courses by attending the synchronous class session or completing a designated assignment in the asynchronous session within the first seven days of the term. For online courses, students must be logged into the course and actively participating (including, but not limited to, submitting an academic assignment whether graded or ungraded; taking an exam, an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction; participating in an online discussion about academic matters; or initiating contact with an instructor to ask a question about the academic subject matter of the course) within the first seven calendar days of the start of the course. To validate enrollment for directed studies, internships, or other non-classroom experiences, students are expected to communicate with their academic advisor and the instructor within the first week of the course. If a student is not planning on completing the requirements for directed studies, internships, or other non-classroom experiences, the student must contact their academic advisor in writing via email or by completing an add/drop form within the first week of the term. Permission to start or add a class late requires submission of a special academic action form, which must be signed by the instructor, advisor, and the Dean.

Failure to obtain permission for an intentional late start or to validate enrollment in the time frame described above, will result in a student being administratively dropped from the course(s). Being administratively dropped means that no tuition charges will be accrued, and all financial aid will be returned according to regulations and policies.

Students are expected to make payment or make payment arrangements for each term prior to the first day of class.

Online Programs Tuition and Fee Information

The fees below are for the 2023-2024 academic year. The university reserves the right to increase the rates charged with due notice.

  Per Credit Hour
Undergraduate tuition $465
Undergraduate Education Programs assessment fee $169
Undergraduate Education Programs background check fee $25
Student Teaching fee (based on 3 credit hours) $109
Student Teaching fee (based on 6 credit hours) $218
Student Teaching fee (based on 12 credit hours) $436
Additional out-of-area fee for student teaching:  

Placements more than 60 miles from BVU


Placements more than 100 miles from BVU


Placements more than 200 miles from BVU

Audit (per credit hour) $77
Undergraduate Graduation fee $90

via Clearinghouse


(includes $2.90 online processing fee)


in person


one day/overnight service


international/express - additional


Returned Check/ACH fee


Fees are not inclusive, other charges may apply.

Fees and Refunds

All charges for tuition and fees are due and payable on the first day of each term/semester. Books, supplies, travel and living costs will vary. To ascertain the amount used to determine your aid eligibility, contact the Office of Financial Assistance at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake.

Online Financial Assistance

To Apply for Financial Assistance

If you would like to apply for financial assistance, including grants and student loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at

Financial Assistance Eligibility Guidelines

To be eligible to receive aid, a student must meet the following requirements:

  1. Have financial need, unless otherwise indicated. Financial need will be determined using the information reported on a needs analysis application (FAFSA) and the following formula: cost of education - family contribution = financial need.
  2. Have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  3. Be enrolled as a regular student.
  4. Be enrolled at least half-time, although some aid sources require full-time enrollment and others will provide less aid for less than part-time attendance.
  5. Be a U.S. citizen.
  6. Make satisfactory academic progress. See policy.
  7. Be current on all previously borrowed educational loans.
  8. Release your FAFSA information to BVU while enrolled.
  9. Submit academic transcript(s) to BVU for all previous colleges/universities attended.

Enrollment Status

Enrollment status in the undergraduate program will be determined by actual enrollment each semester:

  • Full-time = 12 or more credits/semester;
  • three-quarter time = 9-11 credits/semester;
  • half-time = 6-8 credits/semester; and
  • less than half time = less than 6 credits/semester.

Each semester will consist of two consecutive eight week terms.

If a student repeats a course for which academic credit was previously earned, that course cannot be completed a third time and be counted towards enrollment status for purposes of financial aid eligibility. Passed courses (D- or better) can only count in enrollment status for one additional attempt.

Students are not eligible to receive federal or state aid for coursework that is not required for degree completion, therefore, students should carefully plan their enrollment.

Financial aid eligibility is determined based on the number of credits of enrollment by the semester. Six credits/semester is required for Federal Direct Loan funds. Three credits in an eight-week term is required for eligibility for the Iowa Tuition Grant. Audit or CLEP credit will not be acknowledged in determining financial aid eligibility.

Gift Assistance and Financial Aid for Online Students

BVU Scholarship

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Scholarships are awarded to some full-time students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must be a member of PTK International Honor Society in good standing at the time of enrollment, submit documentation of membership, and have earned an associate’s degree. A scholarship application is required and can be found at .

Legacy Scholarships are awarded to full time Online undergraduate students that are new starts for fall, 2019 or after. The legacy connection must be a parent, guardian or grandparent. The maximum yearly award is $1,000, split between two semesters. The lifetime maximum is $2,000 per student over a two-year period.

In addition, gifts from friends of BVU may be available on a limited basis at some site locations.


Information for funds like the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, can be found on the BVU web page:

Information about Iowa state grants and awards like the Iowa Tuition Grant, the Iowa National Guard Education Grant, and other Iowa gift aid programs can be found on the BVU web page: Students from states other than Iowa should check with the proper agency in their state to receive information on availability of state-sponsored scholarships or grants.

BVU’s Strategic Partnerships division offers education partner grants to employees of university partners. Spouses/domestic partners and dependents (to age 26) of full-time partner employees are also eligible. This grant is for up to 30% tuition discount for undergraduate online programs. For a complete list of current partner employers and application steps, visit our website at

Students are not eligible to receive federal aid for coursework that will not count towards degree completion requirements.

Low Interest Loans:

Low-interest loans provide students with an opportunity to defer part of the cost of their education by borrowing now and repaying later at a reduced rate of interest. However, before deciding whether to pursue a loan, students should carefully read the following section. We urge students not to apply for a loan amount larger than necessary. We also encourage consideration of both part-time employment and cutting back on expenses as ways of keeping aggregate loan debt to a minimum. Repaying loan obligations is a serious financial responsibility.

Students may access their federal student loan borrowing history at and are responsible for keeping track of the aggregate total of their loans and the name of their lender(s).

Federal Direct Stafford Loans are federally funded and are available to students who complete the FAFSA and enroll at least half-time in college. The federal government offers loans with an interest subsidy, for those students who show financial need, and loans without an interest subsidy. If eligible for the interest subsidy, the government will pay the interest on the loan for the student borrower while enrolled on at least a half-time basis. If eligible for an unsubsidized loan, the student will be responsible for interest accrual while in college as well as principal and interest after they are no longer enrolled at least half-time, but you may defer payment of that interest until you leave school. Repayment of principal and interest will normally begin after a six-month grace period.

An application for financial aid (FAFSA) must be submitted to determine eligibility for either loan source. Interested students must also complete a Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note, prior to the first semester of borrowing, regardless of the type of Federal Direct Loan for which the student is eligible. First time borrowers must also complete entry counseling. After signing the Master Promissory Note for the first time, a subsequent signature will normally not be required for additional borrowing. Loan proceeds, minus an origination fee, will be received by the university and credited to the student’s account each semester. First year dependent students will be eligible for a total of $5,500 a year, sophomores $6,500 a year, and juniors and seniors $7,500 a year. First year independent students will be eligible for a total of $9,500 a year, sophomores $10,500 a year, and juniors and seniors $12,500 a year. These totals represent the maximum that can be borrowed in a combination of the subsidized and unsubsidized loans for a dependent student. The interest rate for new loans borrowed after July 1, 2023, will be 5.50%. The interest rate on subsidized loans varied in prior years.

Since this is a loan, any amount borrowed will have to be repaid with future earnings. Borrowers are normally allowed 10 years to repay; different repayment plans are available. The aggregate maximum that may be borrowed for an undergraduate program is $31,000 for a dependent student and $57,500 for an independent student, with no more than $23,000 of this being subsidized. As evidenced by the repayment schedule, monthly repayment can be affordable. See the Financial Assistance Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for academic renewal requirements.

Additional Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans of up to $4,000 a year may be available to first- or second-year self-supporting students or first- or second-year dependent students whose parents have been denied a Federal Direct Parent Loan (PLUS). Up to $5,000 is available for similar students who have completed more than two years. Students must be enrolled at least part-time. Financial need is not required. Interested students can receive more information from our Office of Financial Assistance. See the Financial Assistance Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for academic renewal requirements.

Federal Parent Loans, called Federal Direct PLUS Loans are available to parents who have a dependent child in college. These loans are guaranteed by the federal government. Individual eligibility is determined by subtracting other financial aid from the cost of education. Financial need is not a prerequisite. An origination fee will be taken out before the funds are disbursed. Monthly repayment, with an annual interest rate of 8.05%, as of July 1, 2023, begins within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. The borrower may usually take 10 years to repay the loan. For additional information including application materials, contact the Office of Financial Assistance, your site office, or on the BVU web page:

BVU must receive the results of a FAFSA and a Federal Direct Loan must be certified while the student is still enrolled in the enrollment period for which the loan is intended.

Alternative loans are available to students, or parents of students attending BVU. Loan eligibility is determined by the borrower’s credit worthiness and out-of-pocket expenses. The interest rates vary. The borrower may take up to 20 years or more to repay. Principle payments may be placed in forbearance, in most cases, while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Financial need is not a prerequisite. For more information on loan options, including our Preferred Lender List Policy, please contact our Office of Financial Assistance, or go to:

Other Sources of Aid

Agency support is available to many of our students through Vocational Rehabilitation, Social Services, Veterans Administration, Commission for the Blind, Bureau of Indian Affairs and others. For more information, contact the agency counselors directly.

Any financial aid you may receive from sources not listed on your aid award, such as a scholarship or loan from a local or private organization, military benefits, or agency support benefits, must be reported to the BVU Office of Financial Assistance. We encourage you to investigate and apply for such aid. We will help you in any way we can. Financial assistance which has been awarded through the university in response to your financial need is subject to change upon receipt of other assistance. When notifying the Office of Financial Assistance of any outside aid, please list the name and total amount of the award, and anticipated disbursement date(s).

Withdrawal Policy

This policy will assist students who feel the need to completely withdraw from the university after a semester has begun but before its conclusion. A student is considered to be withdrawn from a credit hour program if the student does not complete all of the days in the payment period that the student was scheduled to complete; the days in the payment period would include all the days in both terms in a semester made up of modules if the student is registered for both at the time of withdrawal.

In addition to withdrawing from a course(s), a student also has the opportunity to drop a course. It is possible to drop a course in which there has been no attendance. It is possible for a student to drop a course(s) or for staff to drop a student through validation. There will be no charges for a dropped course. However, if a student in a modular program drops all hours in a term after having completed a prior term (all in the same semester), a Return to Title IV calculation will be required and all days in the semester will be used in the calculation. If a student drops all hours in a subsequent term in a semester during the current term and completes that current term, this is not considered a withdrawal and no Return to Title IV calculation will be required.

If, on the same day, a student withdraws from all courses in the first term of a modular semester and drops all courses in a subsequent term in the same semester, all of the days in the semester will be used in the Return to Title IV calculation.

If a student who is registered for both terms in a modular semester withdraws from the first term, we will request documentation of the student’s intent to return for the second term. If the student fails to indicate their intent or indicates they will not return for the second term in that semester, the student will be considered to have withdrawn from the semester as of the withdrawal date. If the student indicates that they will return for the second term, the student will not be considered to have withdrawn. A return of federal aid calculation will only be required if the student later does not return as indicated.

For a student who officially withdraws, the withdrawal date will be the earlier of the following (unless a later date can be documented):

  • The date the student begins the official process mentioned below, or
  • The date the student officially notifies the institution of intent to withdraw.

If a student triggers both definitions above of official withdrawal on different dates, we will use the earlier date, unless we can document academically related activity later. Academically related activity is defined as one that has been confirmed by an employee of BVU, such as taking an exam, actively logging into the coursework, turning in a class assignment, attending a study group or class, etc.

Official notification can come in written form, via telephone, in person, or through e-mail and should be made with the student’s academic advisor. This process must also be followed for withdrawal from online courses.

If a student begins but does not complete coursework for a term/semester, but does not officially withdraw as described above, they will be considered to have unofficially withdrawn. The withdrawal date for a federal or state aid recipient who unofficially withdraws will be the midpoint of the payment period or a later last day of academically related activity, if documented; this date will be used in determining how much federal aid must be returned. No refund of federal aid will be required for a withdrawal that occurs after sixty percent of the payment period (which could be based on one term or two, depending on enrollment at the time of withdrawal). The withdrawal date will be communicated to the National Student Loan Data Service (NSLDS) and will be used to determine loan repayment when necessary.

If a student unofficially withdraws, the student will be fully charged for tuition, regardless of the aid that is returned. If a student left without notification, because of circumstances beyond the student’s control, the online program staff might determine a withdrawal date related to those circumstances.

The withdrawal date for a student that withdraws (officially or unofficially) from both terms in a modular semester will be calculated using the actual days of attendance in each term. The withdrawal date communicated to the NSLDS will be the last withdrawal date/last day of academic related activity.

A student can rescind a withdrawal by providing a written request to their academic advisor.

If disciplinary action results in the loss of any college or college-contracted service for the student, there will be no refund of charges. Federal aid may be returned based on the Return of Title IV Funds Policy.

The Office of Financial Assistance can be contacted with questions concerning the withdrawal process or the refund calculation. A copy of the Return of Title IV Funds Policy can be found in the financial assistance section of this catalog and our web site, or can be requested from the Office of Financial Assistance or the Business Office.

Online Institutional Charges & Institutional And State Aid Policy For Withdrawals

Students who withdraw completely from online programs may have their tuition reduced on a percentage basis based on the schedule below. Correspondingly, a student’s institutional and state aid will be returned based on their date of withdrawal and the same percentage. The Business Office will notify the student of their final billing information after all of the appropriate adjustments have been made. Any additional fees a student accrues will not be adjusted and the student will be fully charged.

The following schedules will determine the calculation for students’ tuition for the particular courses for which the withdrawal applies. Refunds are based on the official start date of the term and not the first day of class.

Term 1 - Term 6 Courses:

  • Prior to the end of the 4th calendar day of the term: 95% return of charges & institutional and state aid
  • Prior to the end of the 8th calendar day of the term: 75% return of charges & institutional and state aid
  • Prior to the end of the 11th calendar day of the term: 50% return of charges & institutional and state aid
  • Prior to the end of the 15th calendar day of the term: 25% return of charges & institutional and state aid

All students taking courses that do not fall into the above course categories will be fully charged on the first day of class and charges will not be reduced in the event of a withdrawal.

Consumer Information:

For a description of relevant consumer information, please also see for a description of various policies and procedures.

Online Program Degrees

BVU Online Degrees and Majors:

The following degrees and majors are available through Online Programs.

Degrees Offered:

Bachelor of Applied Studies
Bachelor of Applied Science
Bachelor of Arts


  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Business
  • Agricultural Studies (BASc)
  • Agriculture Education*
  • Applied Management (BASc)
  • Business - Agricultural Business concentration
  • Business - Management concentration
  • Business - Marketing concentration
  • Business - Sport Business concentration
  • Business - Finance concentration
  • Business Education*
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice - Criminology track
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice - Criminal Justice track
  • Distributive Major
  • Educational Studies
  • Elementary Education
  • English*
  • History*
  • Human Services
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Post Baccalaureate Certification Program
  • Psychology
  • Special Education

Selected education endorsements are offered.

* Secondary (5-12) certification option available

BVU Office Locations and Contact Information:

BVU Online Programs
610 W. Fourth Street, Box 2032
Storm Lake, Iowa 50588
Telephone: 712.749.1000
Toll-Free: 800.383.2821, ext. 1000

Council Bluffs
2700 College Road
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503

1501 W. Townline, Room 726
Creston, Iowa 50801

11 N 35th Street
Denison, Iowa 51442

Fort Dodge
One Triton Circle, 102 Liberal Arts
Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501

3200 College Drive
Emmetsburg, Iowa 50536

300 S. 18th Street
Estherville, Iowa 51334

3700 S. Center Street
Marshalltown, Iowa 50158

Mason City
500 College Drive
Mason City, Iowa 50401

600 N. Second Avenue W., Room 127
Newton, Iowa 50208

525 Grandview Avenue
Ottumwa, Iowa 52501

Sioux City
4647 Stone Avenue
Sioux City, IA 51106

1900 N. Grand Avenue
Spencer, Iowa 51301

West Burlington
1500 W. Agency Road
West Burlington, IA 52655-9903

Buena Vista University was approved to offer online degree programs by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in the summer of 2005.