Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I tell if I am eligible for financial aid?
- All students typically have eligibility for some form of financial aid whether it is grants, scholarships, or loans. We encourage all students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
2. Do I have to wait until I am admitted to the university before I apply for financial aid?
- No. Students can begin applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) anytime after January 1 proceeding the academic year the student plans to attend the university. Students must be admitted to the university, however, before financial aid can be awarded and disbursed to a student.
3. Who do I call to check on my financial aid status?
- If you filed your FAFSA more than four weeks ago and still have not received a Student Aid Report (SAR), contact the Federal Student Aid Processing Center at 1-(800) 433-3243. If you have received your copy of the SAR sent to you from the U.S. Department of Education, contact the Office of Financial Aid at (601)266-4774. We will able to tell you if our office has also received a copy of your SAR.
4. How can I get an estimate of my federal financial aid eligibility?
- Contact the Southern Miss Office of Financial Aid at (601) 266-4774. If our office has received a valid copy of your SAR, the counselor should be able to give you an estimate of your financial aid eligibility.
5. What factors make a student "independent"?
- A student is considered independent if the student:
- is married
- 24 years of age
- has children for whom one-half of support is provided
- is a veteran
- is an orphan or ward of the court
- is a graduate student
6. What do I do if I am chosen for verification?
- Your SAR will indicate whether the U.S. Department of Education has chosen you for verification with the inclusion of the statement, "Your school will ask you to provide copies of certain financial documents for you and/or your parent(s)." Please be prepared to provide the Southern Miss Office of Financial Aid with certain signed federal tax documents and other information as requested. You and/or your parents (for dependent students) will also need to complete certain verification documents. You will be notified regarding which forms must be submitted.
7. Why haven't I received my financial aid?
- Is your SAR on file with the Office of Financial Aid?
- Have you signed and returned your acceptance letter?
- Have you completed a Direct Lending Master Promissory Note with the Department of Education?
- Did you verify that you completed the registration process and that your financial aid was sufficient to cover your charges?
8. Do I have to reapply for financial aid every year?
- Yes. Students are required to complete a FAFSA or a Renewal FAFSA every year. At Southern Miss, students must reapply for financial aid prior to the fall semester of each academic year. (NOTE: Students who wish to apply for summer financial aid must complete an additional in-house application prior to the beginning of the summer session.)
9. Should I use a scholarship search agency to help me find money?
- Try to avoid companies or agencies that want to charge you a fee for scholarship searches. There are a variety of free scholarship search engines available on the internet.
10. Is the money I receive from financial aid taxable?
- Financial aid counselors in the Office of Financial Aid cannot give tax advice. We recommend that you contact a certified tax preparer, an accountant, or the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040.
11. What if my or my family's financial situation has changed since the most recent tax filing year? Can I have my information updated and my eligibility for financial aid re-evaluated?
- Special circumstances such as a family tragedy, divorce, separation or loss of income can affect a student's or family's ability to contribute toward a student's educational expenses. If this is the case and you can document your status, contact the Office of Financial Aid at (601) 266-4774 and ask to speak with a counselor.
12. What is Satisfactory Academic Progress and how does it affect my financial aid status?
- In order to receive and retain federal financial assistance, students are required to progress satisfactorily toward completion of their course of study. Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured is based on the following:
- The student must progress qualitatively by earning the required minimum grade point average.
- The student must progress quantitatively by completing the required minimum number of credits each semester or term.
- The student must complete his or her program of study within a reasonable time period.
- Additional information concerning Satisfactory Academic Progress policies for both undergraduate and graduate students is available in the Undergraduate Bulletin. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of these important requirements.
13. How much loan money can I borrow?
- Undergraduate students can borrow up to $5,500, $6,500, or $7,500 per year depending on their grade level, or year in college, and eligibility.Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 per year depending on their eligibility.Independent students may be eligible to borrow more.
14. What is a grade-level loan limit?
- A student's grade level refers to his/her academic classification: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate student. Freshman students are eligible for up to $5,500 in loan money per year, sophomore students are eligible for up to $6,500 per year, junior and senior students are eligible for up to $7,500 per year, and graduate students are eligible for up to $20,500 per year, respectively. Independent students may be eligible to borrow more.
15. What is a loan period and how does it affect my loan?
- The loan period of a student loan is the period of enrollment for which loan proceeds are borrowed. Typically, a student is awarded loan proceeds based on his/her attendance for the length of the standard academic year (At Southern Miss, loans are awarded in full for the fall and spring semesters). Utilizing your full federal loan eligibility for the fall and spring semesters will eliminate student loan eligibility for the following summer session.
16. How will my student loan be disbursed from the Department of Education?
- When the Department of Education receives a completed and signed promissory note from the student, it will disburse the funds to the university or through electronic funds transfer. The disbursement of a student loan is typically received at the beginning of each semester during the loan period for which it is awarded.
17. What is the difference between a Subsidized and an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan?
- The federal government pays the interest on a Subsidized Stafford Loan while the student is enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis. If you receive an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, the federal government does not pay the interest on the loan. With the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, the student can choose to pay the interest or permit it to capitalize, meaning that earned interest is added to the principle of the loan.
18. How do I receive my refund?
- All student refunds will be processed through Higher One. Higher One will mail each student a Go Gold debit card. When you receive the card, you must activate the card via the website www.gogoldcard.com . You may choose one of the following refund methods:
- Activate the debit card and have your refund deposited directly on the card
- Request your refund to be deposited directly to your existing bank account
- Select to receive a paper check
19. What will happen if I withdraw from all my classes?
- Students withdrawing from the university during the refund period who receive federal financial aid must return a portion of any refund to the financial aid programs from which aid was disbursed. The method of returning funds to financial aid programs is calculated using current federal financial aid refund policy in conjunction with the university refund policy.This calculation may result in the student owing money to the university or to the federal aid program from which he/she received funds. Learn more at Official/Unofficial Withdrawal Policies.