Office of Financial Aid

University of Mississippi

General Information Questions

1. I probably don’t qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

Yes. Many families mistakenly think they don’t qualify for aid, and prevent themselves from receiving financial aid by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as Unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is free. There is no excuse for not applying.

2. How do I start the process?

If you are a senior in high school and it is after January 1, complete a Free online Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This begins the financial aid process. If you are not yet in the second half of your senior year, you still have time.

3. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?

Submit a FAFSA. For work study, student loans and grants you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

4. What is a Student Aid Report? 

The U. S. Department of Education will process your FAFSA in approximately one week. You will then receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail. The SAR will reflect the information from your application and, if there are no questions or problems with your application, your SAR will provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the number used in determining your eligibility for federal student aid. Be sure to list The University of Mississippi (Code 002440) on your FAFSA, so that we may electronically receive your SAR.

5. How and when will I receive my financial aid?

Financial aid awards are normally released at the start of each semester. As a financial aid recipient, your financial aid award funds will first be used to pay your tuition/fees, any other charges on your bursar account and on-campus housing bills. After all your University bills are paid for the semester, the balance of your financial aid money will be issued to you in the form of a check from the Office of the Bursar or Direct Deposit.

FAQ Index

6. What expenses can I expect financial aid to cover?

Financial aid is awarded based on an average Cost of Attendance (COA) that includes appropriate tuition/fees for your educational program, books/supplies and other educational expenses. Other educational expenses consist of living, transportation, personal and miscellaneous expenses during the academic year. In some cases, childcare expenses necessary for you to attend classes can also be covered through a process called Professional Judgment.

7. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?

Yes. You must apply for financial aid every academic year. When filing the FAFSA for the first time, you will receive a pin number. You will use this pin number each year to complete the FAFSA. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your financial aid package also depends on your making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

8. Can my financial aid change?

Yes. As stated in the student award notification, initial financial aid awards are the best estimate of what you are eligible to receive. Most changes in awards, however, involve factors that are under your control, and of which you should be aware. Your award may be increased, reduced, or even canceled, if:

  • Your family financial circumstance changes, causing your need to change. See Professional Judgment.

  • You receive any additional outside resource, such as a privately awarded scholarship, which was not listed on your award notification.

  • You provided incorrect data on your FAFSA.

  • You do not maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

  • You are suspended by the University.

  • You do not enroll for the required number of hours to receive aid through the programs awarded to you.

 FAQ Index

9. How do I compare financial aid awards from several schools? 

Financial aid packages should be evaluated based on quantity and quality. A good measure of the quantity of your aid package is to figure out how much financial aid money you will have left after paying your tuition and fees instead of simply considering the total amount. A financial aid package is considered high quality if it allows a reasonable level of self-help awards (loans and work-study) compared to the total cost of education at the school and is consistent from year to year.

10. How is my “financial need” determined?

The federal processor determines your individual family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education (“Expected Family Contribution”) by using the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a formula called “federal methodology.” The formula considers your parents’ and your income and assets, your family size and the number of family members enrolled in college. The EFC will be the same at any college you attend. After receiving your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount from the federal processor, the Office of Financial Aid then subtracts your EFC from the standard student budget (average cost of attendance). In formula form: Cost of Attendance – EFC = Student Financial Need.

11. What is a “Standard Student Budget,” or “Average Cost of Attendance?”

The Standard Student Budget is the amount the University estimates it will cost to attend college for the academic year. Costs include: tuition/fees, books and supplies, housing, meals, transportation, clothing maintenance, health insurance and personal expenses. Budgets are calculated for undergraduates, graduate students and professional students.

12. Will our savings and other assets be considered when our financial need is being determined?

Family assets, such as stocks and bonds, net business worth, and savings are taken into account in determining the student’s expected family contribution toward his/her education. Eligibility for federal financial aid funds is determined by rules set by the government that provide, among other things, allowances for retirement needs in computing this contribution.

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13. How do I become an Independent Student for Federal Aid purposes?

You may be considered independent for the 2011-2012 Academic Year if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • were born before January 1, 1988,

  • are a veteran of the US Armed Forces,

  • are married,

  • are a ward of the court, or were a ward of the court until age 18,

  • have a legal dependent for whom you provide more than half of their support, or

  • enroll in a graduate or professional program.

  • Serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.

14. 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. Once you have indicated your marital status you cannot change that status for the academic year that you have applied for financial aid.

15. If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used when I’m completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

If your natural parents are separated or divorced, use the natural parent with whom you lived the most in the past 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include the step parent’s financial information on the application, 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.

16. What if I have unusual circumstances? 

If any of the following circumstances apply to you or your family, refer to our Professional Judgment policy.

  • Divorce of parents, or you from your spouse

  • Death of a major wage earner

  • Loss of employment of a major wage earner

  • Loss of other income or benefits (such as Social Security or child support) by you, your parents, or your spouse

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17. What is verification?

Verification is a federally mandated quality control process in which files are selected at random to check certain data elements on the FAFSA. If your file is selected for verification, the school is required to compare these data elements with the information on your tax returns to “verify” their accuracy. Your SAR will tell you if you have been selected for verification.

18. What if I am selected for verification?

You will need to submit to the Office of Financial Aid signed copies of student and parent (if, applicable) federal tax returns, W2s and a completed Verification Worksheet. Verification Worksheet includes household size, untaxed income and number in college.  If you are selected for verification, the Office of Financial Aid will e-mail you a notification to visit our web site and download a verification worksheet.

19. I want a Federal Work-Study job. How can I get one?

Work-Study is a need-based program. To qualify, recipients must apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), with the results indicating that they have a financial need. Please note that to be considered for Federal Work-Study as part of your financial aid award, you MUST apply early in the year–before the mid-March priority deadline, since work-study funds are often committed early in the year.

20. Do I have to pay taxes on the money I earn through Federal Work-Study?

Yes. Work-study income is taxable. You will receive a W-2 form from the University at the end of each year, and this form will indicate how much you made from all employment at the University, including work-study employment in the prior year. Although you may have to pay taxes on work-study earnings, you should list those earnings as income on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but then also report them as Title IV exclusions. When filling out the FAFSA, read the FAFSA booklet instructions for Worksheet ‘C’ carefully.

21. Can I get aid for summer school? 

It depends. We consider summer sessions to be add on’s to the regular academic year. If you have not already used up your full eligibility in the student loan program or Pell grant program, you may use either (or both) for summer school. Many scholarships are not available during the summer. Work-study may be available, but MTAG/MESG is not.

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22. How do I apply for aid for summer school?

The application for summer school financial aid is located on our web page. You must complete the application if you want financial aid for the summer. Priority deadline is April 15. If you are requesting federal aid (student loans, college work-study, or Pell grant), you must have a valid, verified Student Aid Report on file in the Office of Financial Aid. If you have not completed a FAFSA for the current year, contact our office as soon as possible.

23. Can independent courses be used to receive financial aid? 

Possibly.  If you use independent course hours in conjunction with classroom hours you must turn in 50% of the lessons to the Independent Study Office before those hours may be included toward your financial aid.  If you only take independent courses you will be considered a half-time student and not eligible for certain programs and again you must turn in 50% of the lessons to the Independent Study Office before those hours may be used for financial aid.

24. Can audit courses be used to receive financial aid?

No. Audit course hours cannot be used to fulfill your hour requirement for financial aid.

25. What happens to my financial aid status if I withdraw from school?

Check with your financial aid advisor before withdrawing from school. Depending upon when you withdraw from school, you may be required to repay a specified percentage of any aid you have received in the term in which you are withdrawing, since the funds you receive are designed to help you meet your living expenses for the entire term.

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