Determining Eligibility

Determining financial aid eligibility is composed of the student’s enrollment status, Expected Family Contribution (EFC), financial need, and dependency status.  Please read below for more details on how each of these components effect your financial aid eligibility.

Enrollment Status

Your enrollment status is determined based on the number of credits your are enrolled in which are part of your program of study (CPoS). For undergraduate students, full-time is defined as 12 credit hours; 3/4 time is 9 credit hours; half-time is 6 credit hours; and less-than-half-time is less than 6 credit hours. Only courses which are part of your degree program can be included in determining your enrollment status for financial aid. Your enrollment status is used to determine your Cost of Attendance for the award year.

For Graduate and Professional students, your full-time, half-time, and less-than-half-time status is determined based on the program you are enrolled in and can be found in the University Catalog.

Expected Family Contribution

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of each family's ability to pay for the student's educational expenses. Ability to pay is represented by the EFC for federal need-based aid and for many state and institutional programs.  It also represents the amount of money the student and parent are expected to contribute to the student's educational expenses during the academic year. Each student's EFC is determined by a federal formula applied to the parents' and student's income and asset data reported on the FAFSA. You can calculate your EFC online to get an estimate of what your EFC will be based on the federal methodology.

Financial Need

Your financial need is the difference between Mercer's Cost of Attendance and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) reported on the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Your total need-based aid and outside resources* cannot exceed your financial need.

* Outside resources includes private and state scholarships, employer tuition benefits, veterans' benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and non-service fellowships (no required service).

Need-Based aid includes: Federal Work-Study, Federal Student Loans (Federal Perkins and Subsidized Federal Direct Loans), AND need-based & academic Federal, State and University scholarships and grants.

Non-Need Based aid:  Students who do not demonstrate financial need may still be eligible to borrow non-need-based Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans and may also apply for merit-based grants and scholarships. Parent Loans and the University's Payment Plan are also excellent resources for families.

To determine how much non-need based aid you can receive, Mercer University takes your Cost of Attendance and subtracts any financial aid you’ve already been awarded.


A student is INDEPENDENT if he/she meets any of the following criteria:

  • Was born before January 1, 1994 (for 2017-18 Academic Year)
  • Is married as of the date of he/she completes his FAFSA
  • Will be a graduate or professional student at the start of the 2017-2018 award year
  • Is currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training
  • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Has dependents other than a spouse who live with you and receive more than half their support from you at the time you complete the FAFSA
  • Was an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since the age of 13
  • Is an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship or was when he reached the age of majority in his state
  • Was determined at any time since July 1, 2013, to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

If you can only answer “yes” to the italicized criteria, additional documentation is required to be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Planning.  Please contact your financial aid counselor for additional information.

For more information on determining your dependency status, go online to