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General Information Questions

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. There is no excuse for not applying.

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.

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.

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 The University of Mississippi school code (002440) 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.

How and when will I receive my financial aid?  Financial aid awards are normally released at the start of each semester (usually 3-5 days before the beginning of the term). 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.

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, for independent students with dependent children, the inclusion of childcare expenses necessary for you to attend classes may also be considered through a Professional Judgment review process.

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.

Can my financial aid change?  Yes. The financial aid awards indicated on your initial award notification are 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 (see the Professional Judgment page 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.

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. To use The University of Mississippi’s Net Price Calculator, access http://finaid.olemiss.edu/calculator/.

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

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.

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.

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 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 (see Homeless or Risk of Being Homeless professional judgment page for more information).

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 (see the Adjustment to Expected Family Contribution Professional Judgment form).

If I was 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.

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, include 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.

Can you start the FAFSA and save it in progress?  Yes, you can save the FAFSA for up to 45 days. When you begin your application, you will be prompted to create a password.  This password is different from your FSA ID. When you come back to complete the FAFSA, your password will return you to your application.

There is room to list four colleges on the paper FAFSA, but I’m applying to more. What should I do?  The online FAFSA has space for 10 colleges. If you need to send it to more than 10 schools, wait until the FAFSA is processed and then return to the web site, choose ‘make corrections,’ and replace some of the schools with new schools. You can update the FAFSA using your FSA ID after you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR).

If you make other corrections to your FAFSA later, the FAFSA processor will send the updated information to the 10 schools listed at the time the corrections are made. If you want the other colleges to receive your updated FAFSA, look for the Data Release Number (DRN) on the confirmation page and give that number to the financial aid office of the college that is not listed; they can get your updated information electronically.

We make too much money to qualify for a Pell Grant. Should we still file a FAFSA?  YES! To qualify for federal Stafford loans, Parent PLUS loans and federal work-study (FWS), you will need to file a FAFSA. Many colleges require a FAFSA to qualify for institutional scholarships, grants or other aid they may have available. Institutional funds may not necessarily be based on need.

I’m already attending college. Do I need to complete another FAFSA?  Yes. You must complete a FAFSA – and if you receive a grant from the New York State Tuition Assistance Program, a TAP application -- every academic year you wish to receive financial aid. The process will be faster, since your FAFSA information will carry over to the next application year.

Do I have to register with Selective Service?  Young men age 18 through 25 are required to register with the U.S. Selective Service in order to receive federal student aid, including Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study (FWS), and Stafford Loans. If you haven’t registered, you can do it on the FAFSA. By answering “yes,” you give the U.S. Department of Education permission to submit your information to Selective Service. Get more information about U.S. Selective Service at www.sss.gov.

Eligibility/Citizenship/Registration Status

What determines “eligible noncitizen status?” - Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are one of the following: 
a. U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or "Green Card")
b. Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
c. Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee," "Asylum Granted," "Indefinite Parole," "Humanitarian Parole," or "Cuban-Haitian Entrant"

d. Citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM).
e. You can receive federal student aid if you are an eligible noncitizen. You must enter your eight or nine digit Alien Registration Number (ARN) on the FAFSA.

Are students with Refugee or Asylum statuses considered Eligible Non-Citizens on the FAFSA?  What if their Alien Registration number expires?  Federal Regulations define an eligible non-citizen as someone "able to provide evidence from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that he or she is in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident.” In other words, regulations require that the Department of Education rely upon the determination made by DHS. When a student files a FAFSA, an automatic check is run with DHS to determine whether they are a citizen or an eligible noncitizen. If the data match with DHS indicates that the student's information did not match with DHS, the college is then required to request documentation from the student to show his or her eligible status. Remember, a DHS-provided status can be revoked; therefore the results of a non-match must be appropriately resolved.

How do students who are citizens themselves but whose parents are undocumented complete the parent information on the FAFSA?  A dependent student whose parents are undocumented fills out the FAFSA the same as anyone else, with one exception: if the parents do not have Social Security Numbers (SSNs), the student should enter all zeros in the space for their SSNs. If the parents did not file taxes, they need to indicate as such on the FAFSA and answer the other income questions accordingly (how much earned from work, untaxed income, etc.). If the parents earned an income where they are required to file taxes, then they should do so before filing the FAFSA.

Can an undocumented student complete the FAFSA?  An undocumented student will not be considered an “eligible noncitizen” for purposes of the FAFSA and should speak to the financial aid office at his/her intended college to discuss options for financial assistance.

Is there a question on the FAFSA where a student can indicate the loss of a military parent in Iraq/Afghanistan post 9/11?
No, there is not a question about this. Instead, the Department of Education automatically checks a list of affected students provided by the Department of Defense.  The Department of Education will then contact those students. If you have lost a parent in this way, please contact your college’s financial aid office.


My parents are separated/divorced – which parent’s financial information should I include?  Include the financial information from the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. If you live with both parents 50 percent of the time, the parent who provided the most financial support should complete the parent portion of the FAFSA.

I am a step-parent. Do I need to provide my income information for my step-daughter, who lives with me and her father, on the FAFSA?  Yes, since your step-daughter is part of your household, your income must be reported.

I am getting divorced from my child's stepfather; how do I complete the income and asset questions?  Use your income and asset information if you are not living in the same household and are separated pending divorce.  

I am a high school student and a single mother living on my own. Should I seek independence so I can receive more aid or should I include my mother’s information?  Since you are a single parent, you are already considered independent for federal aid.

My mother is deceased and I do not know my father. I currently live with my grandmother. What is my dependency status?  If your grandmother is your legal guardian, you will file as an independent student. If your grandmother does not have documentation to meet the requirement of legal guardianship and you are unable to get financial information from your father, complete the student portion of the FAFSA. Then, sign the FAFSA and submit it. Although your application will be incomplete, the colleges listed will still receive your data. You should contact the financial aid offices at your selected colleges for further instructions.

I am living in foster care and completing the FAFSA. What status do I use?  As a youth-in-care, or a former youth-in-care, you may be eligible to be considered for independent student status. This status may apply to you if you are an orphan (both parents deceased), a ward of the court or in foster care on or after your 13th birthday, even if you have subsequently been adopted. This may also apply to youth in kinship guardianship. If you are considered independent, your custodial parents’ financial information is not required on the FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education’s publication Determining FAFSA Dependency has a complete list of the criteria that determines dependency. On your FAFSA, be sure you check the "Ward/dependency of the state or courts" box so you can receive all of the aid for which you’re eligible. You may need to show proof of your Independent Status at the college financial aid office; if so, ask your caseworker for a letter stating your independent status on agency letterhead.

The parent who the student resides with is remarried.  Do they need to include the stepparent’s financial information?  If a FAFSA applicant lives in a household where the parent is remarried and there is a stepparent, then the student is required to include information about that stepparent, including financial information.

A student is living with grandparents, who are also the student’s legal guardians.  Does the student need to put the grandparents’ information on the FAFSA?  If the grandparents have legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of residence, then the student will be considered independent and does not need to include the grandparent information.

A student was kicked out of the home and no longer has contact with the parents.  How is the FAFSA filed without parent information?  The FAFSA will ask whether the student has access to parent information; if the student indicates “no,” then the FAFSA will allow the student to file without parent information. However, the student will need to get in touch with the college financial aid office to discuss the situation in order to determine whether a “dependency override” can be performed.

If I just recently got married, do I have to include my new husbands income on the FAFSA?  You must indicate your marital status as of the day you are completing the FAFSA and include spousal income.

For Certificate or Non Degree Programs





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)

Refer to the Professional Judgment page on the financial aid website for more information.

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.). See the Verification FAQ on the financial aid website for more information.

What if I am selected for verification?  If you are selected for verification, the Office of Financial Aid will notify you to access a verification worksheet (through the student’s award notification in MyOleMiss). 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 University of Mississippi verification worksheet, (if required) 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

See the Verification FAQ on the financial aid website for more information.

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. PLEASE NOTE:   for consideration for FWS as part of your financial aid award, you MUST apply early—before or by the March 1st priority deadline—since FWS funds are often committed early in the year.

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 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).

Can I get aid for summer school?   It depends. We consider summer sessions to be the end of 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 be eligible to receive either (or both) for summer school. Federal Work-Study may also be available, but many scholarships, as well as the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) and the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG), are not available during the summer.

How do I apply for aid for summer school?  The summer financial aid application is available through MyOleMiss (usually in March of the academic year). You must complete the application if you want financial aid for the summer. Priority deadline is April 15. 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 current year, you should do so as soon as possible. Access www.fafsa.gov to submit the FAFSA application.

Can independent courses be used to receive financial aid?  Financial aid eligibility for i-Study will depend on the type of aid, number of hours taken (regular and iStudy hours), and term of enrollment for iStudy (i.e., semester vs. full-year).  

Can audit courses be used to receive financial aid?  No. Audit course hours cannot be used to fulfill your hour requirement for financial aid.

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.