Using Financial Aid for iStudy Courses
What are iStudy (Correspondence) Courses?
UM offers iStudy — correspondence or “home study” courses — for which the university provides instructional materials and exams through Blackboard for students who are studying independently and do not physically attend classes. These courses are different from traditional semester seat courses and online courses in that iStudy courses are self-paced, making them more flexible. They are also distinct from Independent Study courses, which are faculty-guided courses that take place on campus. iStudy courses do, however, have certain deadlines. Classes are provided primarily at the undergraduate level, but there are certain graduate level courses offered as well. Please reference www.outreach.olemiss.edu/istudy/ for full listings.
Is Financial Aid Available for iStudy Courses?
UM students may be able to use some types of financial aid to pay for iStudy courses. However, there are restrictions and requirements placed on these students, and they must work with the Office of Financial Aid to determine their eligibility.
What are the Requirements to Receive Federal Title IV Financial Aid for iStudy Courses?
Students who wish to receive Federal Title IV financial aid (such as Federal Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS Loans, Pell Grants, FSEOG, or TEACH grant) during a period of enrollment that includes iStudy courses must meet the following requirements:
- The student must be admitted as a degree-seeking student at UM.
- The iStudy course(s) must apply toward the student’s academic program or be allowable remedial work (as confirmed by the appropriate dean’s office).
- The student must enroll and complete the iStudy course(s) within the semester (or the combined summer term) for which the hours are being used for aid purposes.
- The student must be enrolled in a semester-based (also known as term-based) iStudy course. Flex iStudy course credit will not be considered for federal aid eligibility purposes.
- If a student is planning to enroll in only iStudy course(s) or will enroll in more iStudy credit hours than regular hours during a certain term, aid eligibility may be affected – contact the Office of Financial Aid.
- In order to receive either full-time or ¾-time federal Pell Grant, the student MUST be enrolled in at least 6 regular hours, in addition to any iStudy hours.
What are the Requirements to Receive State of MS Financial Aid for iStudy Courses?
Students who wish to receive State of MS Financial Aid – such as Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG), Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG), Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students (HELP), or the FAITH Scholarship (for current or former MS foster care youth) – during a period of enrollment that includes iStudy courses must meet the following requirements:
- Full-time enrollment for state aid (only) is defined as 15 credit hours per semester. Students must be enrolled in these hours at the time of disbursement.
- All state grants require full-time enrollment and are not available in the summer – with the exception of the FAITH Scholarship, which requires a minimum of 6 hours per term and can cover summer.
- In order for iStudy course(s) to be counted towards enrollment for state aid, the course(s) must be semester-based.
What are the Requirements to Receive Institutional Aid for iStudy Courses?
Enrollment in Semester iStudy courses will count in the enrollment calculation for full-time scholarship eligibility (for awards such as Academic Excellence/Merit, community college recruitment scholarships, and Ole Miss Opportunity). Enrollment in Flex iStudy courses does not count, however.
The only exceptions that are allowed for both Semester and Flex iStudy courses include the Faculty/Staff Scholarship, Child of Faculty/Staff Scholarship, and Agency Banked Hours. Typically, students must be admitted to an academic program, but can sometimes qualify as a result of their enrollment in an iStudy course under a non-degree-seeking status. Students who wish to use a Flex course for aid purposes should contact the Office of Financial Aid as soon as possible to determine eligibility since this is very limited.
What are the Requirements to Receive Other Aid for iStudy Courses?
iStudy may also qualify students for outside aid such as veterans’ education benefits or AmeriCorps. For VA Benefits, students should contact the Office of Veteran & Military Services. For AmeriCorps, they should contact AmeriCorps directly about using their benefits at UM. If students are receiving any other funding, they should contact the Office of Financial Aid.
How do I Enroll in an iStudy Course?
Beginning with the Fall 2023-24 term, students enrolling in Semester iStudy courses for which they wish to use federal, state, or institutional aid must:
1) be registered for the course(s) in SAP by the last day to drop/add (which is also the) end of refund period for the term in question (for regular fall and spring terms, this is the end of the second week of class) and
2) have class attendance confirmation by the Mandatory Drop Date – MDD (like other regular courses).
Registration for Flex iStudy courses may occur at any time throughout the year, regardless of the semester calendar. They typically do not count for aid purposes.
All students enrolling in iStudy courses will be required to confirm on their iStudy application that they have read the information on this page to ensure that the student is fully aware of and has agreed to the financial aid stipulations. Online applications for iStudy courses are available at www.outreach.olemiss.edu/istudy/.
Students planning to receive any aid for iStudy courses taken during the summer term should indicate they will be enrolled in iStudy courses on the Summer Aid Application to prevent incorrect awarding.
When Will My Aid Disburse if I am Enrolled in iStudy Courses?
If a student is enrolled in a combination course-load of regular courses and Semester iStudy courses, disbursement of all financial aid will occur based on the regular term disbursement schedule.
If a student is enrolled in only Semester iStudy courses during a particular term, federal aid will be held, per federal regulations. No Title IV financial aid will be released until the student reaches the midpoint. The midpoint is defined by the completion of the course’s midterm exam, or upon completion of 50% of the coursework if there is not a midterm exam. The exact date for each term is posted in the Announcements section of the course in Blackboard. Not meeting the midpoint by the established deadline in an iStudy course may cause changes in the amount of federal aid that was awarded.
What Happens to My Financial Aid Offer if I Fail to Complete iStudy Coursework?
If an Incomplete (“I”) mark for a student has been changed to a regular grade before the 30th day of classes of the next regular semester (excluding summer terms), the student must notify the Office of Financial Aid of the update so that we can manually submit the grade change to the State of Mississippi Financial Aid Office for future aid eligibility considerations.
Cost of Attendance (COA)
The COA for a student who is taking only iStudy classes will be limited to required tuition and fees, with an allowance for books and supplies if needed for the classes.