Using Financial Aid for iStudy Courses
What is Independent Study (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 Indepenent 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 (OFA) to determine their eligibility.
What are the Requirements to Receive Federal Title IV Financial Aid for iStudy?
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 that would not otherwise apply to iStudy students:
- Full-time enrollment for federal aid is 12 credit hours per semester.
- 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 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 (also known as term-based) iStudy course. Flex iStudy course credit will not be considered for federal aid eligibility purposes.
- The student must reach the midpoint of course(s) by the established deadline. The exact date is posted in the Announcements section of the course in Blackboard.
- If you are only planning to enroll in iStudy courses or will enroll in more iStudy credits than regular credits during a certain term, aid eligibility may be affected – contact the Office of Financial Aid.
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), or Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students (HELP) – during a period of enrollment that includes iStudy courses must meet the following requirements that would not otherwise apply to iStudy students:
- Full-time enrollment for State Aid is 15 credit-hours per semester. Students must be enrolled in 15 credit hours at the time of disbursement.
- In order for iStudy courses to be counted towards the full-time requirement for state aid, the courses must be semester.
- State Aid will not be held for midpoint completion, but dropping or failing to complete an iStudy course that was counting towards the full-time enrollment requirement for State Aid will affect future State Aid eligibility.
What are the Requirements to Receive Institutional Aid for iStudy Courses?
Beginning spring term 2020, 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
There are other forms of aid that are available for students taking iStudy courses, including the Faculty/Staff Scholarship, Child of Faculty/Staff Scholarship, and Agency Banked Hours. Either flex or semester iStudy courses can qualify for these awards. Typically, students are 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.
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 OFA.
How do I Enroll in an iStudy Course?
Registration for semester iStudy courses opens at the same time as registration for on-campus courses. Registration in all applicable terms (Fall/Spring/Summer) closes on the last day to add an on-campus course for that term. Semester iStudy courses follow all regular semester deadlines per the UM academic calendar. Registration for flex iStudy courses may occur at any time throughout the year, regardless of the semester calendar, and they do not count towards enrollment for federal or state financial aid eligibility purposes (and most institutional aid).
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/.
When Will My Aid Disburse if I am Enrolled in iStudy Courses?
Beginning Spring term 2020, if a student is enrolled in a combination course-load of regular courses and Semester iStudy courses, disbursement of Title IV financial aid, such as the Pell Grant and Federal Direct Student and Parent Loans, will occur based on the regular term disbursement schedule.
If a student is enrolled in only Semester iStudy courses during a particular term, 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.
What Happens to My Financial Aid Offer if I Do Not Meet the Midpoint by the Deadline or if I Fail to Complete Coursework?
Not meeting the midpoint by the established deadline, withdrawing from, or failing an iStudy course may cause changes in the amount of financial aid that was awarded and students may have to return funds to the University. These scenarios may also impact future financial aid awards.
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. Students taking a combination of both semister iStudy and regular courses (on-campus and/or distance education courses) will have their budgets adjusted to reflect that iStudy charges do not include Capital Improvement fees.
The housing allowance in the COA will be zeroed for individuals identified as being in the follow categories:
- Independent students who receive, or whose spouses receive, a military housing allowance (Basic Allowance for Housing, or “BAH”) or who live on a military base.
- Dependent students who are living with parents that receive BAH, or who live on a military base.