NEW State Aid Eligibility Requirement:
Beginning with the Fall 2016 term, undergraduate students must enroll in and earn (complete with passing grades) 15 credit hours per semester to maintain eligibility for state aid for programs that require full-time enrollment. Undergraduate state aid programs that require full-time enrollment are:
- Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students Scholarship (HELP)
- Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG)
- Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG)
- Law Enforcement Officers and Firemen Scholarship (LAW)
- Teacher Education Scholars Forgivable Loan (TES)
- William Winter Teacher and Alternate Route Teacher Forgivable Loan (WWTS/WWAR)
- Health Care Professions Undergraduate Forgivable Loan (HCP-UG)
What You Should Do:
- Enroll in and earn (complete with passing grades) at least 15 credit hours every term, beginning with the Fall 2016 term.
- If you have already registered, review your schedule.
- If you have registered for fewer than 15 credit hours, contact the registrar at your institution to add additional hours.
Answers to Common Questions from Students and Parents:
- Summer hours cannot be added to Fall, Winter (William Carey University only), 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.
- For the 2016-17 academic year, students with 6 to17 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for a single term. Students with 18-29 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for two terms, BUT one semester must carry at least 12 hours and the other semester must carry at least six 6 hours. No appeal will be accepted and no aid will be disbursed for any semester carrying less than 6 hours. Instructions for submitting an appeal is provided below.
- Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, only students with 6-14 credit hours remaining may appeal for an exception for a single term. No appeal will be accepted and no aid will be disbursed for any semester carrying less than 6 hours.
- 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.
Student Appeals for Individual Exceptions to the Full-time Enrollment Requirement:
Students can appeal decisions related to full-time, continuous enrollment for certain reasons.
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 full-time enrollment. For the 2016-17 academic year, students with 6 to17 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for a single term. Students with 18-29 credit hours remaining in the course of study may appeal for an exception for two terms, BUT one semester must carry at least 12 hours and the other semester must carry at least six 6 hours. No appeal will be accepted and no aid will be disbursed for any semester carrying less than 6 hours. Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, only students with 6-14 credit hours remaining may appeal for an exception for a single term.
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 1) the expected graduation date, 2) the total number of hours the student needs to complete his/her degree, and 3) the number of hours the student intends to take each term. A template is available for institutions to complete the requested information. The template may be completed digitally but should be printed on institutional letterhead and signed.
TEMPLATE for Verification of Appeal
- 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”:Mail to: Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
Scan and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax to: 601-432-6527
Guidance for Colleges and Universities:
Lock-step Programs Requiring Fewer than 15 Hours:
- In general, a program with a defined curriculum pathway (lock-step program) is a program in which all students in a cohort are expected to enroll in the same courses in the same sequence.
- If the institution offers a program or programs with defined curriculum pathways (lock-step programs) which require fewer than 15 hours per term, the institution should apply in writing to request an exception for all students enrolled in the program at the institution. The request should include the basic rationale, the impacted program’s name, the impacted program/major (CIP) codes, approximately how many students are enrolled and have received aid (MTAG, MESG, or HELP) in the past, and a copy of the curriculum pathway.
- Each institution should assemble a comprehensive list of programs and submit one comprehensive request, rather than multiple requests.
- Nursing in general does not qualify for the exception for lock-step programs. However, if an institution offers a specific nursing program in which all nursing students take the same courses in the same order (defined curriculum pathway), then the institution should apply for an exception for all students in that specific nursing program.
Student Teaching, Practicums, Clinicals, and other Special Terms:
- A number of different majors require students to complete a special term for student teaching, a field practicum, or clinicals. For these special terms, the institution should identify the students in such a term with a “T” (for student teaching), “P”(for practicum), or “C” (for clinicals) in the co-op field on the enrollment report. All identified students will be exempt from the 15 credit-hour requirement.
- Students in majors with a special term will only be exempt from the 15 credit-hour requirement during the special term, not all terms.
Finish in 4 Campaign
Take 15 is part of the statewide Finish in 4 campaign that encourages students to take a minimum of 15 credits each semester in order to finish an associate’s degree in four semesters or a bachelor’s degree in four years.