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 Federal Direct Unsubsidized and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is free.
2. How do I start the process?
If you are a senior in high school and it is after October 1, complete a Free online Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This begins the financial aid process.
3. How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid?
Submit a FAFSA. For the Pell Grant, Federal Work-Study, Federal direct loans, and other need-based aid, 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) electronically or by mail. The SAR will reflect the information from your FAFSA application and, if there are no problems with your application, your SAR will provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC number is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Be sure to include Mississippi College’s school code (002415) on your FAFSA, so that we may electronically receive your SAR. Be sure to review your SAR for any errors, and take steps to correct them, if needed.
5. How and when will I receive my financial aid?
Financial aid awards are normally released two (2) weeks after the start of the semester. As a financial aid recipient, your financial aid award funds will first be used to pay your tuition/fees, on-campus housing charges, and any other charges on your bursar account. If any financial aid funds exceed the amount of your student account balance, once the balance is paid in full, the Bursar’s office will issue a credit by check or direct deposit.
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.
7. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
Yes. You must apply for financial aid by completing and submitting your FAFSA for every academic year. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change from year to year depending on if any information on your FAFSA changes from year to year. Continuing to receive aid each academic year also depends on your maintaining satisfactory academic progress. For undergraduates, this means passing 67% of all attempted hours, not exceeding 190 attempted hours, and maintaining a minimum cumulative resident GPA of 2.0. Access the financial aid web page about Satisfactory Academic Progress for more information.
8. Can my financial aid change?
Yes. The financial aid awards indicated on your initial award notification are the best estimate of what you are eligible to receive. However, your financial aid awards may be increased, reduced, or even canceled, if:
· Your family financial circumstance changes, causing your need to change (Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information).
· 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.
· Your FAFSA was selected for verification, and after completing verification, changes to the FAFSA decreased, or increased, your eligibility.
· You receive an institutional scholarship that was awarded after you received your initial award notification.
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 remaining financial aid funds you will have after paying tuition and fees, rather than 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 if the financial aid awarding is consistent from year to year. One way to determine some of these factors is to use a “Net Price Calculator.” The Net Price Calculator is a tool that students can use to estimate their “net price” to attend a particular college or university. Every school is required to have one. Use The University of Mississippi’s Net Price Calculator.
10. How is my “financial need” determined?
Your individual family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education is determined by the calculation of the “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC). This calculation, completed by the federal processor after submitting your FAFSA, uses the information provided on your FAFSA and a formula called “federal methodology.” This formula considers FAFSA information, which includes but is not limited to: student and parent income and assets, family size, and the number of family members enrolled in college. The EFC will remain the same at any college to which you apply or will attend. After receiving your 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 or Average Cost of Attendance is the amount the University estimates it will cost you to attend college for the academic year. Costs include tuition/fees, books and supplies, housing, meals, transportation, 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 balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts; stocks and bonds; investment real estate (not your or your parents’ home); net business/farm investment value; are all considered when determining your Expected Family Contribution. See FAFSA instructions for more information about including student and parent cash, savings, and assets.
13. How do I become an Independent Student for Federal Aid purposes?
You may be considered as an independent student if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
· are age 24 or older (or will turn age 24 before January 1 of the academic year for which you are applying),
· are considered married as of the date of FAFSA filing (this also includes students who are separated but not yet legally divorced, and living apart from their spouse),
· are enrolled in a graduate or professional degree (master’s or doctorate) program
· are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training,
· are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces,
· have legal dependents for whom you provide more than half of their financial support,
· were an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since the age of 13,
· are an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship, or were when reaching the age of majority in your state (NOTE: The United States Department of Education does not recognize Emancipation of a Mississippi Resident as being valid to establish independent student status for Federal Financial Aid.),
· are/were an unaccompanied youth, or are/were homeless or at risk of being homeless
14. I will marry 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 complete and submit 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. However, if you married after your FAFSA was submitted, you may request consideration for independent status based on a professional judgment review
15. If I were married and considered independent in one academic year, will I always be considered independent?
It depends. If you were married, then divorced, and are age 24 or older, you will be considered independent by virtue of your age the next time you complete and submit a FAFSA application. However, if you were married, then divorced and are younger than age 24, AND you would not qualify for independent status based on any other criteria (see question 13 above), then you will again be considered a dependent student, and must include parent information the when you file the FAFSA for the next academic year.
EXAMPLE: For 2013-14, you were married at age 21 and completed your FAFSA application AFTER you were married. You were considered independent because you were married before you completed your FAFSA (even though you were younger than 24 years old). Before the 2014-15 academic year, you and your spouse divorced when you turned 22 years old. Also, no other circumstance qualifies you for independent status (see question 13 above). Therefore, for 2014-15, you will again be considered a dependent student and must include parent information on your 2014-15 FAFSA.
16. If my legal parents (biological or adoptive) are divorced or separated, whose information should I include when completing my FAFSA?
If your legal parents (biological or adoptive) are separated or divorced and are living apart, include information (personal and financial) for the 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, including information for the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If the legal parent (biological or adoptive) you included on the FAFSA has remarried, you must also indicate that parent as “married” in the parent marital section and include BOTH that parent and step-parent information (personal and financial) on the FAFSA.
EXAMPLE: Your biological mother and biological father are divorced and are living apart. Your biological mother is remarried and you have been living with your biological mother and stepfather for the past 12 months. You would indicate in the parent marital section of the FAFSA that your biological mother is “married” and include BOTH your biological mother’s and stepfather’s information (personal and financial) on the FAFSA. You would also report the number in your parent’s household to include yourself, your biological mother, your stepfather, and any other children that they support.
17. What if I have unusual circumstances?
If any information included on your FAFSA differs significantly from your current family’s situation, you may be considered for a professional judgment review. Some of the unusual circumstances that may be considered include, but are not limited to:
· A change in parent or student marital status
· The death of a parent or spouse
· A loss of income or benefits
· Extraordinary medical/dental expenses
· A significant amount of one-time income reported on the federal income tax return (i.e., Rollovers or one-time IRA withdrawals)
(Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information)
18. What is verification?
Verification is a federally mandated, quality control process in which some FAFSA applications are randomly selected by the federal processor and must then be reviewed by a school’s financial aid office in order to “verify” the accuracy of certain data elements on the FAFSA. Your SAR will tell you if you have been selected for verification. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, the school’s financial aid office is required to compare certain FAFSA data elements with other required documentation (i.e., a verification worksheet, student and parent W-2 forms, tax return transcripts, etc.).
19. What if I am selected for verification?
If you are selected for verification, the Office of Financial Aid will mail you a verification worksheet All students selected for verification must submit appropriate documentation to the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) as required. This may include, but is not limited to:
· A Mississippi College verification worksheet, with all items completed and student/parent or student/spouse signatures included
· Documentation of SNAP benefits
· Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submission of Tax Return Transcripts
· Any applicable tax schedules (i.e., C or F) for student/parent or student/spouse
· All student/spouse W-2 form(s) or 1099-MISC form(s) for total wage income
· All parent W-2 form(s) or 1099-MISC form(s) for total income
· Parent verification of non-tax filing if parents did not file taxes (if requested by OFA)
· Parent Statement of Financial Support (if requested by OFA)
· Proof of identity and Statement of Educational Purpose
· Proof of high school or equivalent completion
20. I want a Federal Work-Study job. How can I get one?
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a need-based program. To qualify, recipients must complete and submit a FAFSA with the results indicating that they have a financial need.
21. Do I have to pay taxes on the money I earn through Federal Work-Study?
Yes. Federal Work-Study (FWS) 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 FWS employment in the prior year. Although you may have to pay taxes on FWS earnings, you should include FWS earnings as a student earned income on your FAFSA, and also include FWS earnings in the “Additional Student Financial Information” on the FAFSA (which removes FWS earnings from the Expected Family Contribution calculation).
22. Can I get aid for summer school?
You may receive aid for summer school. Summer is considered a header for the financial aid year. If you decide to use federal aid during the summer, you aid will be divided into thirds. This would leave you with less aid for the spring semester. All scholarships, as well as the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) and the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG), are not available during the summer.
23. How do I apply for aid for summer school?
The Office of Financial Aid will email summer financial aid applications once preregistration has begun for summer and next fall. If you are requesting federal aid (federal direct loans, work-study, or the Pell grant), you must have a valid, and/or verified FAFSA (if selected for verification) on file in the Office of Financial Aid. If you have not completed a FAFSA for the next school year, you should do so as soon as possible. Access www.fafsa.gov to submit the FAFSA application.
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 a 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 received were designed to help you meet your educational expenses for the entire term.