When it comes to financial aid, there are a wide variety of resources available to help you pay for college—such as grants, work-study programs, student loans and more. Sources include federal and state government, your chosen college or university as well as private sources. Follow these steps to take the fullest advantage of what’s out there:
Step 1: Submit the FAFSA
Before your senior year…
If you want to begin exploring your financial aid options and get an early start on the financial aid process, use the FAFSA4caster. This tool will give you an early estimate of eligibility for federal student aid. You should also take advantage of the Net Price or True Cost Calculator on the Web sites of the colleges that interest you – these will help you estimate the financial aid and scholarships available to you.
During your senior year…
Federal funds include need-based and non-need-based scholarships and grants, work-study and loans. After January 1 of your senior year, you and your parents need to complete federal tax returns for the previous year as soon as possible. Remember to make copies of your tax returns. These documents will be needed to complete your financial aid applications.
You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov after January 1 of your senior year. The online application contains built-in edits to help prevent costly mistakes. Make sure you meet your colleges’ priority deadlines. Most families submit the FAFSA in February or March. The information on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Review for accuracy your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is sent to you after you file the FAFSA. If necessary, make and submit corrections. If you have any special circumstances, contact the school’s financial aid office.
Step 2: Complete Mississippi aid applications
Learn about the state grants and eligibility criteria at www.mississippi.edu. The Mississippi Office of State Financial Aid offers scholarships and grants based on merit and financial need. Complete applications for state financial aid such as MTAG, MESG and HELP if you qualify and will be attending college in Mississippi. You can complete the application after January 1 of your senior year. Applications for HELP are due March 31, but MTAG and MESG may be submitted until September 15.
Step 3: Act on your financial award notice
You will typically receive an award notification indicating your financial aid and scholarship amounts in the spring. You may need to accept or reject the award by a deadline, so read carefully. If you receive awards from several colleges, remember to decline those from the schools you will not be attending.
Step 4: Investigate other options
To get started, you can learn more about the various types of financial aid by clicking on the links below:
Federal and State Grants
Available to students meeting certain criteria, grants such as the Pell Grant, MTAG and more are free aid that do not need to be repaid.
Work Study Programs
Pay your way through college with a special part-time job.
A wide variety of scholarships are available to students who meet certain requirements. Begin your search for them here.
When all else fails, a student loan is a viable option for borrowing money for college with a low interest rate.
Reduced tuition possible for some degrees that are not available in Mississippi:
Is the degree program you have chosen not available in Mississippi? Have you found your program at an out-of-state institution, but the higher tuition is a barrier?
The Academic Common Market allows Mississippians to apply for a waiver of out-of-state tuition to attend a cooperating public institution of higher education to pursue a program not available in Mississippi. ACM is a cooperative, tuition-reduction agreement among 16 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states.
More than 1,900 programs are available to eligible students at in-state tuition rates in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, MIssissippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Viriginia. Graduate level programs only are available in Florida, North Carolina and Texas. For a listing of programs available to Mississippi residents, visit www.sreb.org, click on “Academic Common Market” and search for “Mississippi.” You can also download the application for Academic Common Market programs.
Need assistance with filing?