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Financial Aid

Financial Aid Overview

Federal Financial Aid Programs

Federal aid includes the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Work-Study Program, Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Programs, and Direct PLUS Loan Program. These awards are considered federal funding and are determined by the institution’s specific cost of attendance and federal regulations.

Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree. Need is determined by the student's EFC calculated from the FAFSA.

You are not eligible to receive a Pell Grant if you are incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense.

A Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances.

Full-time status is based off of 12 credits during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits during the summer to be eligible.

SEOG is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest EFCs will be the first to get the SEOG. Like Pell Grants, SEOG does not have to be repaid. Typical award amounts at Southern Miss are between: $100 - $500.

The TEACH Grant Program provides grant funds to postsecondary students who are completing or planning to complete coursework that is needed to begin a career in teaching, and who agree to serve for at least four years as a full-time, highly qualified teacher in a high-need field, in a school serving low-income students. TEACH Grants are prorated for less than full-time enrollment. 

For any TEACH Grant first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, and before Oct. 1, 2023, the maximum award of $4,000 is reduced by 5.7 percent ($228), resulting in a maximum award of $3,772.

To be eligible for the TEACH Grant, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Complete a FAFSA, although you do not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible
  • Complete Southern Miss Application for TEACH Grant for 2022-2023 or 2023-2024.
  • Complete TEACH Grant entrance counseling
  • Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS) each year.
  • Accept your Award in SOAR.
  • Be enrolled in a degree plan at either the undergraduate or graduate level and complete coursework toward a career in teaching in a high-need subject area.
  • Be admitted in one of the appropriate Southern Miss degree programs. Typically, students are fully admitted into the teacher education program their junior or senior years, once they earn their Gold Card. For information on how to earn full admittance, contact the College of Education and Human Sciences.
  • Establish and maintain a Southern Miss cumulative GPA of at least 3.25, will be reviewed each semester for continued eligibility. 

Teaching Obligation

Within eight years of finishing your teacher preparation program, you must serve as a full-time teacher in a high-need field for at least four years in designated schools that serve low-income students. If you receive the TEACH Grant but do not fulfill the requirements of the program, your grant will convert to a direct unsubsidized loan, which you will have to repay with interest calculated back to the date the funds were disbursed. Once it converts to a loan it can never go back to a grant.


Work-Study (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient's course of study. Typical award amount at Southern Miss is between $800 - $4,000 for undergrads and $1,800 - $9,200 for graduate students. 

This award is offered as accepted in your SOAR account. Student can decline the award in SOAR or email at financial.aidFREEMississippi requesting award to be canceled.  Student accepting FWS awards must apply for work study positions on campus. Apply for positions online by logging into your Handshake account here.


After your FAFSA is processed, your school will review the results and will inform you about your loan eligibility.

Your Federal Stafford Student Loan offer amounts for the financial aid year, which includes the fall semester, spring semester, and summer semester, are determined by your grade level:

Grade Level Dependent Students Independent Students
Freshman $5,500 $9,500
Sophomore $6,500 $10,500
Junior $7,500 $12,500
Senior $7,500 $12,500

Graduate Students are eligible for a total of $20,500 in unsubsidized loans per financial aid year. 

There are also enrollment requirements for stafford loans: undergraduate students must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours per semester and graduate students must enroll in a minimum of four credit hours per semester to be eligible for any stafford loan disbursement.

Subsidized Stafford Loan:

A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you're in school, for the first six months after you leave school, and if you qualify to have your payments deferred.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan:

You might be able to borrow loan funds beyond your subsidized loan amount even if you don't have demonstrated financial need. In that case, you'd receive an unsubsidized loan. Your school will subtract the total amount of your other financial aid from your cost of attendance to determine whether you're eligible for an unsubsidized loan. Unlike a subsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it's paid in full. You can choose to pay the interest or allow it to accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). 

If you are a first time loan borrower, you will have to complete two items on the Federal Student Aid website:

  1. Entrance Loan Counseling
  2. Master Promissory Note

The federal government also limits the amount of loans you be borrow in your lifetime. Those amounts are shown below. 

Grade Level Lifetime Maximum Loan Limit
Undergraduate Dependent Students $31,000 (of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized loans)
Undergraduate Independent Students $57,500 of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized loans)
Graduate/Professional Students $138,500 including undergraduate loans (of which no more than $65,000 can be subsidized loans)


Additional Loan information can be found here.

Direct PLUS Loans (Parent Loans): 

Parents can borrow a PLUS Loan to help pay your educational expenses if you are a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half time in an eligible program at an eligible school. PLUS Loans are available through the Department of Education.

Parents must complete and submit a PLUS Loan application online here. When submitting this application, the parent must be logged in with the parent's FSA ID and Password, not the student's.

If approved, the parent must complete the Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note. Parents may be required to completed Credit Counseling as well. Monitor your SOAR To-Do List for up to date items needed.

PLUS Loans for Graduate Students (Grad PLUS):
Graduate and professional degree students are now eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan Program up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The terms and conditions applicable to Parent PLUS Loans also apply to Graduate/Professional PLUS loans.

Applicants for these loans are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They also must have applied for their annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program before applying for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan. The application can be completed online here.

Graduate students are required to complete the Graduate PLUS Master Promissory Note for the loan to be processed.

Federal Financial Aid Information

The federal government is the single largest source of funding in education. Federal aid is primarily need-based assistance— financial aid that supplements a family's ability to fund a college education. Essentially, the government attempts to reduce the gap between college expenses and the amount of money a family is able to provide for the cost of higher education.

Federal aid is the most common type of financial aid awarded by Financial Aid Offices across the nation. A student’s eligibility for federal aid is determined by the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Using the information on the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education determines a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is the amount that your family, according to the federal government, should be able to contribute toward a student’s higher education during the course of an academic year.
Cost of Attendance: (COA) is not the bill that you may get from your college; it is the total estimated amount it may cost you to go to college each year. COA will include direct costs and indirect costs. The COA is used by the college to help determine your annual awards and federal need. You may think of it as a budget.

Direct Costs: Expenses that will be paid directly to the college, such as tuition, course fees, room and board (if you are living on campus). Not all students will have the same direct costs as it could vary based on academic program, courses taken, and - if on campus - which residence hall assignment.

Indirect Costs: Expenses incurred because of attendance that the student/family may pay to a third party other than the college, such as rent to a landlord, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses. (These items do not typically show on a student’s bill.)

The information you reported on your FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula used to calculate your EFC is established by law and is used to measure your family's financial strength on the basis of your family's income and assets. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and indicates how much money you and your family are expected to contribute toward your cost of attendance for the school year. If your EFC is below a certain number, you'll be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, assuming you meet all other eligibility requirements. The amount of your Pell Grant depends on your EFC, your cost of attendance (which the Office of Financial Aid will calculate), and your enrollment status (full time, three-quarter time, half time, or less than half time). For our other aid programs, the financial aid administrator takes your cost of attendance and then subtracts your EFC, the amount of a Federal Pell Grant you are eligible for, and aid you will get from other sources. The result is your remaining financial need:

Cost of Attendance
   - EFC
   - Federal Pell Grant Eligibility
   - Aid From Other Sources
  = Remaining Financial Need

Note: Certain financial aid sources are not allowed to exceed student's Cost of Attendance.

To receive aid from Federal Title IV programs, you must:
  • qualify for financial need (except for certain loans).
  • have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, pass a test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meet other standards your state establishes that the Department approves, or complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law.
  • be working toward a degree in an eligible program.
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • have a valid Social Security Number (unless you're from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau).
  • register with the Selective Service if required. You can use the paper or electronic FAFSA to register, you can register at, or you can call 1-847-688-6888. (TTY users can call 1-847-688-2567.)
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school.
  • certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant.
  • certify that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.

Even if you are ineligible for federal aid, you should complete the FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) because you may be eligible for non-federal aid from states and private institutions. If you regain eligibility during the award year, notify your financial aid administrator immediately. If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.

State Financial Aid

The State of Mississippi offers several scholarship and aid programs to qualified MS residents. Find out what program you may qualify for and how to apply here.  Students must apply each October. More information can also be found here

State Aid Programs

Students must take 15 credits each semester and complete 15 credits to maintain eligibility for state aid.

All state program student eligibility requirements will be reviewed at the end of each semester.

Undergraduate state grant aid programs are no longer stackable with other state grant aid programs. If a student is eligible for more than one state grant aid program that student will only receive the state grant aid program that has the larger award amount.  Example: a student eligible for MTAG and MESG will only receive MESG, since MESG is offered for $2500 compared to MTAG maximum amount of $1000.

  • Enroll in and complete at least 15 credit hours every term, beginning with the Fall term.
  • If you have already registered for Fall, review your schedule.
  • If you have registered for fewer than 15 credit hours, add additional hours via your student center in SOAR.
  • If you need academic help, see your academic advisor; or help adding classes, visit our Student Success website.
  • You need to successfully complete 15 hours each semester in order to continue to qualify for state aid. Successful completion does not include grades of I, W, NP, or F.
  • Summer hours cannot be added to Fall and/or Spring hours.
  • If enrollment drops below 15 credits before state aid has been disbursed to the student, the aid will be cancelled for that term and the following term. If enrollment drops below 15 credits after state aid has been disbursed to the student, the aid will be cancelled for the following term.
  • Students should not report their enrollment directly to the Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid. Enrollment is reported by the institution on behalf of its students.
  • All credit hours for a given term must be completed at a single institution. Credit hours cannot be completed at multiple institutions for a single term.
  • Students with fewer than 15 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for a single term. Students with 24 or fewer credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for two terms. Instructions for submitting an appeal is provided below.
  • Students enrolled in certain programs with defined curriculum pathways (lock-step) should NOT apply for individual exceptions. Each institution will apply for program exceptions to apply to all students in such programs.
  • Exceptions will be made for students in certain majors that require clinical, practicum, or student teaching terms. Each institution is being advised regarding how to report enrollment for such terms.
  • All students, even athletes, will be impacted in the same way. In order to receive and continue to receive state aid, the student must take and complete 15 hours, regardless of whether or not the student is an athlete or on any other kind of institutional scholarship.
 Acceptable Reasons for Appeal:
  • Student undergoes a significant personal event, such as a serious illness, personal injury, divorce, or death of an immediate family member. An immediate family member is defined as a parent, spouse, sibling, or child. (Historically, appeals have not been granted for students with certain learning disabilities.  However, if a student submits an appeal for such a reason and provides compelling documentation from a physician, the appeal will be considered.)
  • Student is nearing degree completion and does not have enough hours remaining to warrant 15 hour enrollment.  Students with fewer than 15 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for a single term. Students with 24 or fewer credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for two terms.

Steps for Submitting an Appeal:

  • The student should make the appeal in writing.
  • The personal event appeal should be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation.
  • The nearing degree appeal should be accompanied by a letter on institutional letterhead from the appropriate dean, director, or academic advisor.
  • The letter from the faculty/administrator should indicate the number of hours the student needs to complete his/her degree.
  • There is no deadline for appeals from students.  Appeals are received and considered year-round.
  • The appeal and supporting documentation may be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the attention of “Appeals Committee”: 
    • Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
      Scan and email to:
      Fax to:  601-432-6527

Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid
3825 Ridgewood Road | Jackson, MS 39211-6453
1-800-327-2980 (toll-free in Mississippi) or 601-432-6997

Almost every state education agency has at least one grant or scholarship available to residents, and many have a long list of student aid programs. Eligibility is usually restricted to state residents attending a college in-state, but that's not always the case. You can visit
  • October 1: Application for next Aid Year becomes available
  • March 1: Online application deadline for the Nissan Scholarship
  • March 31: Online application deadline for the HELP Grant and for forgivable loans
  • April 30: Supporting document deadline for the HELP Grant and for forgivable loans
  • September 15: Online application deadline for MTAG and MESG
  • October 15: Supporting document deadline for MTAG and MESG

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