Frequently Asked Questions, Parents' Edition

The Bottom Line

How much will my child's tuition be?
Tuition for the fall and spring is charged by the credit hour for up to twelve hours, and then a flat rate for twelve to nineteen hours. Most academic classes are three credit hours, and most labs and physical education classes are one credit hour. Mini sessions (1-2 week classes that carry full credit and occur between semesters) are charged separately. Out-of-state students are charged additional fees. For a complete breakdown on tuition, please visit General Tuition and Fees.
If the cost is the same for 12-19 credit hours, shouldn't my child be taking 19 hours?
Not necessarily. The number of hours that are appropriate for a student to take in a semester depends on several factors, such as the difficulty of the coursework and how many other obligations the student has (like work). The University recommends that for every hour a student is in class each week he or she should budget 2-3 hours outside of class for studying and preparing for class. If your child is taking 15 credit hours, working 20 hours a week, and participating in two campus organizations, that is a heavy schedule, likely adding up to more than 60 hours a week with studying. Before a student commits to additional courses in a semester, he or she should talk with an advisor about whether that load is advisable given other obligations. To get a sense of how many classes your child can handle, download the Student Credit Hour Calculator
How much do meal plans cost?
Southern Miss has a number of meal plans to choose from, from Dining Dollars, which can be used at any dining location on campus, to full meal plans that allow your child unlimited all-you-care-to-eat meals at a full-service dining hall. Students who live on campus are required to have a meal plan.
How much does housing cost?
The Department of Residence Life at Southern Miss offers a safe place for students to live, while making the most of their social and academic lives. With 24 residence halls housing more than 3,000 students, living on campus is convenient and is a great way to get involved!
How much are parking fees?
Vehicles parked anywhere on campus require a valid parking pass, and all parking lots are zoned for different passes—student, visitor, faculty/staff, etc.


Financial Issues

How can my child apply for a scholarship?
The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation is committed to helping students find the resources they need to succeed and awards hundreds of scholarships each year. Your child can fill out one master application online each year each year he/she is enrolled at Southern Miss, and the Foundation will match the application to all the scholarships he/she is eligible for and forward the application automatically. For more information, please visit the USM Foundation's scholarship website. Some colleges and departments also have scholarships that they manage. Your child should talk with his/her advisor to find out about whether the major has additional scholarships. 
How can we get help applying for a national scholarship not funded through Southern Miss?
The Office of National Scholarships is available to help all Southern Miss students determine which national scholarships they might be eligible for and help them prepare the strongest possible applications. The office is located in Honors House on the Hattiesburg campus and is open Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–4 p.m., appointments preferred.
Why am I being charged course fees?
Course fees are additional charges for specific classes than range between $10-$475. Unlike tuition, which goes to the university to pay instructor and staff salaries and the general operation of the university, course fees go directly to the department, and are used to pay for materials for the class. For a list of which classes are assessed fees and how much they run, visit Business Services.
My child is being charged tuition for a class he/she didn't even attend.
Students can add and drop classes from their schedules without penalty during the first week of every semester. After the add/drop deadline, all classes that are on a student's schedule will be charged in full, and there is no refund for dropping a class after the deadline. If your child did not drop a class by the deadline, the best strategy is to meet with the professor and work to earn the highest grade possible in that course, as it will remain on his/her academic record. If students are unable to do well in a class, they will have the option to withdraw from that class (with instructor permission) until the 50th day, but they will still be charged and will have a grade of “W” on their transcript. You should encourage your child to be aware of the deadline, and to double-check his/her schedule in SOAR before the deadline to make sure all the classes on his/her schedule are classes that he/she is attending. You can find the deadlines on the Academic Calendar
Who can I contact about a billing issue?
If you have questions about your bill, or believe that you have been charged in error, please contact the Business Office at 601.266.4137 or by email. If you want to talk to someone in person about a billing issue, you can visit the Business Office in Forrest Country Hall 101.
How can my child save money on textbooks?
All the textbooks your child needs for the upcoming semester will be listed on the university's campus bookstore website by the time your child registers for classes, which will give you plenty of time to shop for the best price before the semester begins, and with the provided 10-digit ISBN number for each book, you can search online and be sure that you are getting the exact edition required for the class. The university bookstore also offers used books and one-semester rentals, which can cut costs dramatically.


Your Child on Campus

Where will my child live?
Southern Miss offers many different on-campus housing options for students, and provides a safe, affordable, and fun environment in all residence halls. Visit Residence Life for an overview of all the options available, and see video tours of different residence hall rooms.
What are the options for meal plans?
Southern Miss has a number of meal plans to choose from, from Dining Dollars, which can be used at any dining location on campus, to full meal plans that allow your child unlimited all-you-care-to-eat meals at a full-service dining hall.
  • Overview of different meal plans
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Dining locations on the Hattiesburg campus
  • Dining locations on the Gulf Coast campus
My child is not doing well in one or more of his/her classes. Where can he/she go for help?
If your child is struggling in a class, the first step is to talk to the professor. Professors hold office hours during which students can drop by to talk about the courses and strategies for improving grades. Southern Miss has lots of resources available to students who need a little extra help with their classes. Whether your child needs help writing a paper, tutoring in biology, or some improved study, notetaking, and time management skills, we have people on campus who are ready to help. Check out our Academic Help page for more information.
Where can my child go if he/she is sick?
All Southern Miss students are eligible to receive health care at the Moffitt Health Center on campus. There is a $15.00 co-pay per visit, and there will be additional charges for tests, treatments, and medications. All fees can be charged to your child's student account. Your child must have his/her student ID and insurance information with him/her at the time of the appointment. In case of emergency, your child should contact one of the immediate care clinics in the area, or call 911 for an ambulance to the emergency room.
My child has a disability. Where can I get more information on how Southern Miss accommodates disabled students?
Southern Miss is committed to providing equal access for students with disabilities. In order to get the specific help your child needs, he/she will need to register with the Office for Disability Accommodations. The process requires filling out several forms and providing the office with documentation about the disability. Once the paperwork has been submitted, your child will meet with a counselor who will discuss the kind of accommodations he/she needs to be successful and make sure that your child has every opportunity available to succeed. For more information about the kind of accommodations than can be offered to students with disabilities, you can download the ODA Handbook.
My child seems depressed or anxious. What should I do?
College can be overwhelming for new students, as they are not only taking classes that require a lot more time and effort than the classes they took in high school, but also learning how navigate a whole new social world. The best thing you can do for your child is to encourage him/her:
How can my child get involved in clubs and organizations on campus?
Southern Miss has lots of student groups to choose from academic groups like the Anthropology Club to religious groups like the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry, to groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance and Stage Monkeys, a student improv group, to fraternities and sororities. See a complete list of official student organizations here by clicking on "Registered Student Organization List" in the menu. If your child is not sure which group or groups to join, The Office of Student Activities at has ambassadors who will be happy to meet with your child and suggest organizations that he/she might be interested in joining based on his/her interests. There are also plenty of opportunities for your child to volunteer in the community. Check out the Center for Community and Civic Engagement's newsletter to find out more.
Where can my child find an on-campus job?
On-campus jobs come in two varieties: work study and wage. Work study is a federally funded program that provides universities with money for students who qualify based on financial need. To apply for work study, your child will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and answer yes when asked if he/she is interested in being considered for work study. Once the university is informed of how much work study money we’re eligible for, awards will be made, and your child will be able to see any award in his/her SOAR account. Awards generally range between $800 and $3600 a year, and your child can work up until the allotment has been reached. Departments and offices on campus can hire work study students and only pay a fraction of their wage with federal money picking up the rest, so some jobs are listed as work study only. Wage jobs are open to any student regardless of financial need.

The Office of Career Services runs Jobs for Eagles, an online career center database that allows students to search for all part-time employment needs such as on-campus jobs (wage and work-study), off-campus jobs, temporary jobs, and summer jobs. Your child will need to log in to Jobs for Eagles in order to use the service, which is only available to Southern Miss students.


Privacy Issues

I want to help my child succeed. Can I talk to his/her professors about his/her performance?
We all want your child to excel academically, and if he or she is not performing as well as possible in a class step one is to meet with the professor to talk about it. Research has shown us that a very significant factor in how well a student performs is whether they connect with faculty members, and all too often students are hesitant to speak to professors because your child is legally an adult, he/she is protected by the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and university faculty, staff, and administrators are not allowed to talk about your child’s academic performance with anyone but your child unless your child provides written consent, or unless you provide documentation to the registrar’s office that your child is a dependent as defined by section 152 of the IRS code. To learn more about FERPA at Southern Miss, please visit the registrar’s FERPA Compliance page. If your child is struggling academically, please help us by encouraging him/her to make an appointment with his/her professor for some extra help, and make sure he/she knows about all the academic resources available on campus.
My child thinks he/she received an unfair grade. Who can I talk to?
If your child thinks he/she has received an incorrect or unfair grade, the first step is for him/her to talk to the professor, who can not only review and explain the grade, but can give him/her advice on how to do better on the next assignment. If after talking to the professor your child still feels the grade was unfair, he/she can make an appointment to talk to the Chair of the department. If he/she is not able to come to an understanding with the Chair, he/she can make a formal appeal to the University Grade Review Council. Details about the procedure for a formal review can be found on the Provost’s Grade Review Bylaws page (Article V). The federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents faculty, staff, and university administrators from talking to anyone but the student involved about grade issues, but please encourage your son or daughter to be proactive about classes and grades, visiting his or her professors during their office hours to discuss papers, tests, and assignments
Can I see my child's grades?
All students at Southern Miss can log into our online records system, SOAR, and see all their course grades, including “interim grades” that are assigned six weeks into each semester. Some classes also use Canvas to record all graded work as the semester progresses. We encourage you to talk with your child about his or her grades and make sure that they are performing well. The university is prohibited by law from sharing a student’s grades with anyone but the student without the student’s written consent. Read more about the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) here.