More than $300 million of aid — a new record — was processed as of July 31, 2018, to Ole Miss students.
Laura Diven-Brown, director of the Office of Financial Aid, said she encourages students to apply for as many forms of aid as they can to “cobble together as many things as you can to stack it all up to create a financial aid package that can make college affordable for that student and his or her family.”
Financial aid packages can encompass scholarships, grants, loans and work-study from the state and federal governments, outside sources and the institution. Students can stack as many scholarships as possible until their caps are reached. Students cannot earn more scholarships than their cost of attendance, which can vary from student to student.
Freshman biomedical engineering major Ajah Singleton said she faced the difficulty of stacking too many scholarships when she noticed some scholarships disappeared from her account.
Singleton learned that her scholarships were in excess of her cost of attendance. She, like many other students, took advantage of a number of aid options.
For an in-state dependent student living with his or her parents, cost of attendance equals $19,286 this school year, whereas the cost for out-of-state residents meeting the same criteria is $35,240.
Other categories of students may be full-time undergraduates who aren’t dependent and who aren’t living with their parents ($25,426 for in-state and $41,380 for out-of-state), graduate students ($27,686 for in-state and $43,640 for out-of-state), law students ($35,686 for in-state and $55,748 for out-of-state) and more.
All cost of attendance is calculated by adding the costs of tuition, course and capital improvements fees, housing, food, books and supplies, personal expenses and travel, even if a student doesn’t live on campus or require travel expenses.
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, over $130 million in outside and institutional scholarships was awarded to undergraduate and graduate students at the university. Of that figure, $98,747,838 was from the university and was awarded to 10,622 undergraduates.
More than $32 million of aid came from state and federal grants that were awarded to 8,643 undergraduate students. The majority of grants, totaling $23,707,355, came in the form of federal grants awarded to 4,787 undergraduates.
Over $130 million was awarded in the form of federal, institutional, donor-provided or parent loans to students, while less than $1 million was allocated to those with work-study jobs.
Even though the university saw its second consecutive year of enrollment decline, the financial aid budget has increased over the years and has exceeded the rate of enrollment, said Larry Sparks, vice chancellor for Administration and Finance, the department that oversees the university’s overall budget.
“Part of that is because we’ve had … better-prepared, higher-academic credentials among the freshman classes each year,” Sparks said. By this, he means that more students are eligible for scholarships based on academics or talents rather than need.
Just as Diven-Brown advocates for students to create plans to make college more affordable, she emboldens students to play their part, including keeping their grades up, maintaining study habits, being aware of terms to continue aid, being mindful of their spending and learning about money management.
“Come here (to the Office of Financial Aid) and ask questions. Try and understand the money,” Diven-Brown said. “It’s good education for life, because the hope is when you finish your college program that you have set yourself up successfully so (that) you can move into the field you want to pursue but also be able to be independent, which includes finances.”