How Financial Aid is Awarded at Mississippi College
Federal Title IV regulations require all students to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal financial aid funds. Mississippi College also uses this information to award institutional funds such as the University Grant and certain scholarships.
The FAFSA priority filing date is March 1st, so completing your FAFSA on-line can help you meet this important date. Missing the March 1st priority filing date can decrease your eligibility for financial aid in some cases.
You can submit the FAFSA to the federal processor via mail or FAFSA on the Web. Shortly after submitting your FAFSA the federal government will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a reprint of your completed FAFSA. You should carefully review the SAR and contact our office if any information is incorrect. Around the same time the SAR is sent to you, an electronic version is sent to MC from the federal processor. This automatically occurs if you list MC as a school you would like to attend when completing the FAFSA.
Upon receipt of the FAFSA information from the federal government, your eligibility for financial aid funds will be determined. At times, more information may be needed to make this determination. In that case, you will be contacted and the additional documentation will be requested. You may be selected for verification, which will require additional information to be submitted to our office before eligibility can be determined. Once the review is complete, you will receive a Financial Aid Award Notice informing you of your eligibility.
Financial aid eligibility is determined based on several factors, many of which are assumptions. If any of the assumptions used to make an award subsequently change, it is possible that the original financial aid award will change as well. A financial aid award is based on the following information (this is not an all-inclusive list):
FAFSA information. Generally, this does not change once you have completed the financial aid review process.
Full-time status (enrollment level). All initial financial aid awards are based on the assumption that students will be enrolled full-time in the fall and spring semesters. If you will not be full-time, then aid will be recalculated based on the lesser enrollment. With the exception of the Pell Grant and in some situations Federal Work-Study, SEOG, and the Perkins Loan, you cannot receive financial aid for less than half-time enrollment. The following represents the number of semester credit hours for each financial aid enrollment level:
|Full Time||12 credit hours or more|
|Three-Quarter Time||9-11 credit hours|
|Half-Time||6-8 credit hours|
|Less than half-time||1-5 credit hours|
|Full Time||8 credit hours or more|
|Three-Quarter Time||Not applicable|
|Half-Time||4-7 credit hours|
|Less than half-time||1-3 credit hours|
These enrollment levels apply for financial aid eligibility in all semesters (i.e .summer, fall, and spring for undergraduates and fall and spring for graduates.). Graduate students attending summer school 6 hours is considered full-time.
An overaward can be created in two ways. The first is when a student has more “need-based” financial aid than calculated need. Need-based aid includes grants, many scholarships, Subsidized Direct Loans, Perkins Loan, Work-Study, and potentially some forms of third party aid. Financial aid that is not considered “need-based” can include Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Parent PLUS Direct Loans, Grad PLUS Direct Loans, merit-based scholarships, and potentially some forms of third party aid. The second type of overaward is when a student receives assistance from all sources that exceed the Cost of Attendance. For example:
$12,000 (Cost of Attendance developed by the school)
- $3,000 (Expected Family Contribution from the FAFSA)
= $9,000 (Demonstrated Financial Need)
This particular student can receive up to $9,000 in “need-based” financial aid. Any amount over $9,000 is considered and overaward situation. Applicable federal, state, institutional, and/or third party rules may require a reduction to be made to the student’s financial aid package to keep the student within the $9,000 need level. Additionally, this student cannot receive more than a total of $12,000 in financial aid from all sources. Any amount over $12,000 is considered an overaward situation and may require a reduction to student’s financial aid package to ensure the total does not exceed $12,000.
If your financial aid application (FAFSA) is chosen for verification, you may be asked to submit copies of yours and your parent’s tax transcripts, W-2’s or other needed documentation. Your financial aid will not be disbursed until the Verification process is complete. You will receive notification from our office if you have been selected for Verification.
The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships reserves the right to deactivate student records from financial aid processing due to a lack of response to a Verification request. For example, the end of the award period is the end of the spring semester for students enrolled in the fall and spring semesters and seeking aid for those semesters.
Eligible Program of Study
To be eligible for federal aid, a student must be a regular student as defined in section 600.2 of the General Provisions regulations. A regular student is defined as: “A person who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by that institution.” Therefore, students are eligible to receive federal Title IV assistance for credit hours/course work which will not count towards the completion of that's degree program requirements.
Renewal of Financial Aid
To receive financial aid from Mississippi College, you must complete the FAFSA each year. Students returning to Mississippi College will have their loans automatically accepted, if they had loans the previous year. If a student does not wish to receive loans for the new, they would need to contact the financial aid office to cancel their loans. Institutional scholarships are renewed each year as long as the student maintains the required GPA for each scholarship.
If a student plans to attend summer school, the student will need to complete the new year FAFSA. Summer school is a header for Mississippi College’s financial aid year.
Financial Aid, Disbursements, Your Bill, and Refunds
If you have been awarded financial aid prior to bills being mailed, the aid should show on the bill as a pending credit and you need only pay the amount due by the deadline date. No pending credit will show on the bill if you have not been awarded financial aid by the time bills are mailed. You will be responsible for satisfying the account by the due date.
You may choose to participate in the monthly payment plan, see the section later in this document for more details. Filing your FAFSA by the priority filing date of March 1st and responding promptly to all requests for additional information will allow adequate processing time to ensure that your financial aid will appear as a pending credit on your bill.
The total amount of your financial aid, as shown on your Financial Aid Award Notice, is generally credited to your bill in two installments (half in the fall semester and half in the spring semester). Grants, loans, and installment payments credited to your account will be applied to all outstanding tuition, room, and/or board charges before refunds are generated. You will be issued refunds if the credited financial aid is more than the charges, but only after the charges have been paid in full. Anticipated installment payments are not deducted from the account when determining refund amounts. Please contact our office if you have questions about when your aid will be processed. Outside scholarships will not be credited to a student’s account until the check arrives at the university.
Not all students will be eligible for a refund. Your financial aid award will provide you with a means of obtaining funds up to the Cost of Attendance. If you choose not to participate in programs offered, you will then be responsible for satisfying your charges.
Financial aid disbursements generally occur 2 weeks following the first day of classes of each semester if all paperwork has been submitted in a timely fashion and the student is registered for the amount of hours used to determine financial aid eligibility. The Bursar’s Office will credit students’ accounts with their financial aid. The Bursar’s Office will send out email notices that tells the student when their loans and TEACH grant has been disbursed to their account. The email is to advise the student that they have up to 14 days to cancel any loans or TEACH grant for the semester. They will need to notify the Financial Aid Office if they wish to cancel any loans. If any loans are cancelled after a refund is processed, then the student may owe a balance in the Bursar’s office once the loans are removed from their account.
Effects of Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes
A student’s enrollment level is critical in determining eligibility for financial aid. In some instances, a change in enrollment level after a financial aid package has been awarded can lead to an adjustment to financial aid eligibility.
Students typically change their enrollment by dropping or withdrawing from classes. Before going any further, it is important to understand the difference between a dropped and withdrawn class:
- Dropped Class – This class will not show up on a transcript and the student is not charged for the course. It is as if the student never signed up for the class.
- Withdrawn Class – A grade of W, WP, or WF will show on the transcript for a withdrawn class. Visit the Registrar’s Office for more information about these grades. In most instances students will incur charges for a withdrawn class. Please visit the Bursar’s Office if you have questions about charges for withdrawn classes.
Drops and withdrawals are treated very differently for the purposes of determining financial aid eligibility. The sections below will describe the different ways these actions will affect financial aid eligibility.
Financial aid eligibility will always be reviewed whenever you drop a class. In some instances this means previously awarded aid will be reduced and/or canceled.
- Undergraduate student was registered for 12 credit hours (full-time status) on 8/31/15 and all federal and state aid was disbursed on 8/31/15
- On 9/2/15 the student drops to 9 credit hours and receives a refund for the classes
- As a result of this drop, the student’s entire financial aid package will be recalculated based on 9 hours
- In some instances, this means the student will receive a bill for financial aid previously disbursed at the full-time rate
There are two exceptions to this rule:
- Undergraduate students taking more than 12 credit hours in a semester. If they drop a class(s), but remain above 12 credits, then their aid will not be reviewed as their eligibility will not change.
- Graduate students taking more than 9 credit hours in a semester. If they drop a class(s), but remain above 9 credits, then their aid will not be reviewed as their eligibility will not change (unless arrangements were made earlier to increase eligibility based on an enrollment level greater than 9 hours).
Withdrawing From Classes
All Aid Has Not Disbursed & Partial Withdrawal(s)
In some situations aid may need to be reduced and/or canceled based on the withdrawal(s). Please contact The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships if you are withdrawing from a class(s) and all of your federal and state financial aid has not been disbursed for the semester. Depending on how many credits you are withdrawing from, the type of aid you have, and the status of your aid in processing, your financial aid could be affected in a variety of different ways.
One example of this impact follows:
- Undergraduate student was registered for 12 credit hours (full-time status) on 8/31/15
- The student accepted his Federal Student Loans, completed the Master Loan Promissory Note, and completed Entrance Loan Counseling on 9/8/15
- On 9/10/15 the student withdraws to 3 credit hours. His Federal Direct Loans had not disbursed by this date.
- The loans will be canceled because he is not currently enrolled on at least a half-time basis
Even if your aid for the current semester is not be affected by the withdrawal, withdrawing too much can cause you to lose financial aid eligibility for future semesters. This could affect satisfactory academic progress.
All Aid Already Disbursed & Partial Withdrawal(s)
If all of a student’s federal and state financial aid has been disbursed for the semester, and the student subsequently withdraws from a course (or courses, as long as the student does not withdraw from all courses), there will be no impact on his aid for that semester.
- Undergraduate student was registered for 12 credit hours (full-time status) on 8/31/15 and all federal and state aid was disbursed on 8/31/15
- On 9/10/15 the student withdrew to 9 credit hours
- No changes will be made to his financial aid for the semester (note exception above)
Even if your aid for the current semester is not be affected by the withdrawal, withdrawing too much can cause you to lose financial aid eligibility for future semesters.
All Aid Already Disbursed & Complete Withdrawal
Refunds/Return of Title IV Funds
A student desiring to withdraw from the University should initiate the process using the Complete Withdrawal link in the MY MC student portal. It is necessary for the correct procedure to be followed. Failure to process an official withdrawal earns a grade of F in each course. Deadlines for withdrawal are the same as those for dropping courses. Any claims for refunds of tuition will be based on the date on which the student initiates the online withdrawal process.
The withdrawal date is determined when the student initiates the withdrawal process in Banner web. The withdrawal date for unofficial withdrawals is the midpoint of the semester or the last date of attendance that a professor provides to the Financial Aid Office.
Federal regulations require Mississippi College to have a fair and equitable refund policy. When a student withdraws from classes, he/she may be entitled to receive money back which had been paid to the University. The University may be able to refund all or a portion of the tuition, fees, etc., the student paid. If the tuition, fees, etc., were paid with Title IV financial aid, all or a portion of the student’s refund must be returned to the student aid programs from which the money was awarded. A student who receives a cash disbursement to assist with living expenses withdraws may be required to return money to the aid programs from which the money was awarded.
If a recipient of Title IV aid withdraws during a period of enrollment, Mississippi College must calculate the percentage of Title IV aid the student earned. The percentage of aid earned is equal to the percentage of time completed. Unearned Title IV funds must be returned to the Title IV programs.
If a student withdraws on or before the 60% point of enrollment, the percentage of aid earned is equal to the percentage of time completed. If a student withdraws beyond the 60% point of the enrollment period, 100% of the aid has been earned for that period.
The unearned Title IV aid that must be returned is the lesser of (1) the student’s institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage, or (2) the entire amount of unearned funds.
All unearned Title IV funds must be returned to the Title IV programs. If Title IV aid was used to pay institutional charges first, the University will return unearned Title IV funds up to an amount that is equal to the amount disbursed to the U.S. Department of Education.
Funds are returned in the following order up to the full amount disbursed:
1. Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan,
2. Federal Subsidized Direct Loan,
3. Federal Perkins Loan,
4. Federal PLUS Loan,
5. Federal Pell Grants,
6. FSEOG, and/or
7. Other assistance under TITLE IV.
These federal Return of Title IV requirements are separate from Mississippi College’s institutional refund policy. As a result, the student may owe a balance to Mississippi College to cover unpaid institutional charges, including federal aid that was returned in the process.
The following is an example of what can happen when a student receives Federal Title IV Aid and withdraws from a semester. This example is based on a student, whom we will call Bob, in the Fall 2015 semester, which contains 101 calendar days (8/24/15-12/11/15 minus the Thanksgiving Break). The same rules apply to all award years.
1. Bob Withdrew:
The financial aid was disbursed to Bob’s account and paid all of his charges, leaving with him a $1,790.00 credit balance. This credit balance was deposited in his checking account on 8/28/15 and is designed to help him with living expenses associated with attending college (e.g. rent, food, books, etc.). This also means Bob’s fall account is now at a $0 balance, as his charges were paid and a credit balance refund was issued to him.
Bob became ill and contacted the Registrar’s Office to begin the official withdrawal process to leave MC on September 29, 2015. According to the Federal Return of Title IV Funds regulations, September 29th is considered Bob’s date of withdrawal since that is when he first made contact to begin the withdrawal process. This means Bob only completed 36.6% of the fall semester.
2. R2T4 Calculation:
This calculation is completed based on the date of the withdrawal and is entered into Return of Title IV Funds formula provided by the U.S. Department of Education. The formula determines how much of the federal aid Bob has “earned” based on his attendance and how much must be returned to the aid programs immediately.
3. Aid Summary Based on 9/29/15 Date of Withdrawal:
· MC will return these funds and depending on whether any of his original charges are adjusted by the Bursar’s Office, Bob could receive a bill to reimburse MC for returning these funds. This is because Bob’s bill was paid to $0 prior to the withdrawal. So, if his charges are not reduced, then returning loan funds will remove those funds from his account and create a balance due.
· The federal regulations provide some differences in how funds are to be returned, as well as how much, depending on if the formula results in MC or the student being responsible for returning the funds.
· If the formula had resulted in Bob having to return loan funds versus MC, then Bob would be allowed to repay the loans under the normal terms and conditions of the Master Promissory Note and not actually return funds now. However, since the formula dictated that MC return these funds, Bob may have to reimburse the school immediately for the returned funds.
· In Bob’s case no grant funds had to be returned. However, if the formula had resulted in MC having to return grant funds, then the school would have returned 100% that amount and Bob may have been billed by MC to reimburse the school for the returned funds. If the formula had indicated that Bob would have to return these grant funds instead of MC, then Bob would only have to 50% of that amount.
· Mississippi College processes all withdrawals and refunds within 30 days of having knowledge of a student’s official or unofficial withdrawal.
If you did not receive all of the funds that you earned, you may be due a Post-withdrawal disbursement. If your Post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, Mississippi College must get your permission before it can disburse them. You may choose to decline some or all of the loan funds so that you don’t incur additional debt.
-Mississippi College may automatically use all or a portion of your Post-withdrawal disbursement of grant funds for tuition, fees, and room and board charges (as contracted with the school).
-Mississippi College needs your permission to use the Post-withdrawal grant disbursement for all other school charges. If you do not give your permission (some schools ask for this when you enroll), you will be offered the funds.
- However, it may be in your best interest to allow Mississippi College to keep the funds to reduce your debt at the school.
Note: There are some Title IV funds that a student was scheduled to receive that cannot be disbursed to the student once the student withdraws because of other eligibility requirements. For example, if a student is a first-time, first-year undergraduate student and has not completed the first 30 days of the program before withdrawing, the student will not receive any Direct Loan funds that would have been received if the student remained enrolled past the 30th day.
Mississippi College maintains the right to decide whether or not to make a post-withdrawal disbursement in the event that the student responds after 14 days of the date that the notification was sent. If Mississippi College decides not to make this post-withdrawal disbursement, it will inform the student in writing.
Direct Loan Aggregate (Lifetime) Limits
The U.S. Department of Education has established aggregate loan limits for students borrowing from the Direct Loan programs. A dependent undergraduate student can borrow no more than $31,000 in Direct Loans, with no more than $23,000 of that being subsidized. An independent undergraduate student can borrow no more than $57,500 in Direct Loans, with no more than $23,000 of that being subsidized. A dependent undergraduate with parents who are not eligible for a Parent PLUS Direct Loan holds the same loan limits as an independent undergraduate student. A graduate student can borrow no more than $138,500 in Direct Loans, with no more than $65,500 being subsidized taken out in terms prior to Summer 2012, when graduate students are longer eligible for subsidized loans.
For more detailed information, please contact our office or visit our website to view more Federal Direct Loan information. You can review your aggregate loan limits by accessing the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
Mississippi College does not provide a lender list for private or alternative loans. Mississippi College will certify private/alternative loans from any lender. The student must complete a FAFSA before a loan will be certified. The student must be making satisfactory academic progress. The loan cannot be for a prior balance. Federal regulations require private educational loan borrowers have to complete a Private Educational Loan Applicant Self-Certification document in order to receive a private loan. Private loan eligibility is generally limited to the following formula.
Cost of Attendance (-) Minus other aid offered (=) Equals private loan eligibility
Lastly, private educational loan debt can be very expensive as these loans are not governed by the same rules and regulations that are applicable to federal student loans (i.e., Direct Loans and Perkins Loans). The interest rate, repayment period, fee structure, deferment/forbearance rules, loan forgiveness rules, consolidation options, and many other features differ from the federal student loan programs. In most cases, private loans will be more expensive than federal loans for borrowers over the life. Therefore, we encourage students and parents considering this option to do so very carefully before making the decision to apply for one of these loans.
At a minimum, students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for federal financial funds:
- Must be enrolled as a regular student in a degree or Teacher Licensure program
- Cannot be simultaneously enrolled in elementary or secondary school
- Must have a high school diploma or equivalent, pass an approved ability-to-benefit test, or meet the state’s homeschooling requirements
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Be registered with Selective Service, if required
- Sign Statement of Educational Purpose, which certifies that he or she will use funds only to pay educational costs (the statement is part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Not have property subject to a judgment lien for a debt owed to the United States of America
- Must make satisfactory academic progress
- Must not have a disqualifying drug conviction
- Must not be in default or owe a grant repayment on any previously received financial aid
- Be U.S. citizen or national; a U.S. permanent resident; Citizens of the Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia and the republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands; Other eligible noncitizens as defined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- Must not have exceeded the annual or aggregate federal loan (Stafford and Perkins) limits
- Must meet enrollment status requirements. With the exception of the Pell Grant and in some situations Work-Study, SEOG, and the Perkins Loan, you cannot receive financial aid for being enrolled in a less than half-time status. The following represents the number of semester credit hours at each enrollment level for financial aid:
- Undergraduate Students
- Full-time = 12 credit hours or more
- Three-quarter time = 9-11 credit hours
- Half-time = 6-8 credit hours
- Less than half-time = 1-5 credit hours
- Graduate Students
- Full-time = 8 credit hours or more
- Three-quarter time = 6-7 credit hours
- Half-time = 4-5 credit hours
- Less than half-time = 1-3 credit hours