FAQ

What is the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program?

The MFOS Program supports low income undergraduate students who are first in their families to attend college. The University of Florida is committed to financially supporting academically talented students who might not otherwise attend UF because of financial barriers. Additional information about the history of the program can be found here.

How does UF define First-Generation?

The term first-generation refers to students who are the first in their families to attend college. More specifically, it means that a student's parents have not earned a bachelor’s degree. Students whose parents earned a bachelor’s degree in another country are not first-generation by this definition and thus ineligible for the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholarship. Students who have siblings in college but whose parents did not earn a bachelor's degree are considered first-generation.

What does the scholarship cover financially?

The scholarship covers expenses up to the student's need up to the full cost of attendance. In other words, the scholarship covers tuition and books, as well as living expenses after any family contributions (EFC) are made. The goal is for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and graduate without student loans. The UF cost of attendance can be found here: http://www.sfa.ufl.edu/basics/cost-of-attendance/

Why was the program initiated?

National studies have shown that students from low socio-economic backgrounds can be deterred from enrolling in a four-year college or university because of fear of debt and concerns that working while in school could hamper the chances for academic success. Many of these students opt instead to enroll in community colleges or choose not to attend college at all. UF recognized this problem in the state of Florida and decided to take a stand for education. The program began in the summer of 2006.

Who supports the Program?

The MFOS program continues to receive support from President Emeritus Bernard Machen, President Kent Fuchs, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. David Parrott, as well as campus administrators, faculty, alumni, and students. The Program Director is Leslie Pendleton. Financially, the program is supported by the University, the state of Florida and our many generous donors.

How many students are in the MFOS program?

To date, the MFOS program has supported approximately 3,900 students in the eleven classes since the program began. Each semester approximately 1200 scholars are enrolled at UF.

Who is eligible?

Students must first be admitted into the University of Florida as a first-year student. Upon completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the December 15th deadline, students are invited to complete the MFOS Supplemental Form if they meet the initial eligibility criteria. Specifically, the program supports students whose annual family income is less than $40,000 and assets are less than $25,000. Review the initial eligibility criteria here.

How do students apply?

Potentially eligible students, as determined from the FAFSA and other eligibility requirements, will receive an email around March 1st encouraging them to complete and return the MFOS Supplemental Information Form. While this is not technically an application, students must return the form in order to remain potentially eligible. The Office of Student Financial Affairs is responsible for reviewing the forms and making the awards. Often, there are close to 1000 potentially eligible students for about 300 scholarships. All returned Supplemental Information Forms are reviewed but not all students are awarded the scholarship. Selection notifications are made throughout the summer on an ongoing basis.

Is the MFOS program available to transfer students?

No, only first-time in college freshmen admitted to UF as a first-year student are eligible. Students who graduate high school with an Associates of Arts (HS/AA) degree are eligible if they are admitted to UF as a first-year student.

How long can I receive the scholarship?

Eight semesters or until the scholar earns a baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first. Funding will not be continued beyond six years from the scholar's start date. Scholars enrolled in five-year undergraduate programs such as Engineering can receive the award for 10 semesters provided they have remained on track in the academic program. Such scholars will be required to file a petition upon completion of 8 semesters for continued eligibility.

If a scholar is in a 3-2 or 4-1 accelerated masters or professional degree program such as the Junior Medical Honors Program, Pharmacy, or Accounting, scholars will be funded at the regular undergraduate tuition rate for the number of hours needed for a baccalaureate degree. The scholar is responsible for paying the difference.  In this case, most scholars will have loan eligibility to cover the difference, if needed. The MFOS program will not pay for the additional graduate/professional tuition, fees and other graduate expenses.

How can I support the MFOS Program?

The University of Florida and the MFOS scholars thank you for your interest in supporting this program. All financial contributions can be made through the University of Florida Foundation. Go Gators!

What requirements must I meet in order to renew my scholarship each year?

As a first-year student in the MFOS program, you must complete and pass SLS1102: First-Year Florida by the conclusion of spring semester with a C or better. Additionally, you must actively participate in the peer mentoring program as well as attend two Financial Literacy Workshops (one in the fall and one in the spring). Innovation Academy (IA) students must complete all requirements above however, they will complete two Financial Literacy Workshops in their spring semester. IA students must all take SLS1102 in the spring of their first-year.

As a second-year student in the MFOS program, you must complete two Career Workshops (one in the fall and another in the spring). Innovation Academy students complete this series in the spring and summer semesters, during their terms of enrollment.

As a third-year student in the MFOS program, you must complete one Life Planning workshop that will help you prepare for life after college. This requirement may be completed in either fall or spring semester (or spring/summer for IA students).

All MFOS students must keep a 2.0 GPA and earn 24 credits each year to remain eligible as well as reapply for aid by updating their FAFSA by December 15. Parental income will also be reevaluated each year for scholarship renewal. The MFOS staff strongly urges scholars to submit their FAFSA by December 1 to avoid the potential that UF might receive it late.

How many credit hours do I need to take each semester?

MFOS requires you to complete 24 credit hours at the conclusion of each spring term (Innovation Academy students are required to earn 24 by the conclusion of the summer term). The number of credits you take may vary by semester but 24 must be earned each year. Students who do not earn 24 are placed on probation and must make up the credits in the summer (or fall if IA) to remain eligible for the following fall term (or spring for IA). Students must also be considered full-time students and therefore are required to enroll in a minimum of 12 UF credits each semester. Students who elect to use a university-granted drop may fall below full-time status which is permitted. The general rule of thumb is that students must begin each semester as a full-time student with 12 or more credits.

Scholars registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) are required to earn 18 credit hours per academic year and they may petition for additional semesters to complete their degree. Under special circumstances, a scholar may earn fewer per their approved accommodations. The DRC is located in Reid Hall and scholars are strongly recommended to use their services if it improves their academic success while at UF.

Will MFOS pay for Summer classes?

In most cases, no. The exception though is for Innovation Academy students who follow a spring/summer semester model and thus are not eligible to receive aid in the fall semesters. Additionally, newly admitted MFOS students who are admitted for summer B are funded with other UF grants for that first summer semester.

MFOS students are eligible for other types of aid in the summer such as student loans and work study (if available). Students may also choose to take classes at another college, perhaps closer to home, in order to save money. Be sure to check with your academic advisor before registering for non-UF classes to ensure that the credits will transfer back and count towards your degree. Students must also complete paperwork to be considered a transient student during any semseter they complete credits somewhere other than UF. We recommend consulting your academic advisor in this situation.

If I drop a class, how will my MFOS scholarship be affected?

Since MFOS students are required to earn 24 credits each year, dropping a class may put you behind in earning these credits. This drop may affect the number of credits you register for the following semester. We encourage students to meet with an academic advisor prior to making the decision to drop a class. Each semester, the university sets a date by which all students much drop classes if they choose. Be sure to pay attention to this date each semester as dropping a class after the university deadline will result in needing to complete a petition.  All UF students receiving Bright Futures scholarship are required to repay the cost for classes they drop, unless it is a documented medical reason. Learn more at http://www.registrar.ufl.edu/hubstudents.html

I want to study abroad, will MFOS help me pay for it?

MFOS is unable to fully fund study abroad; however, you will be eligible for financial aid to go abroad. Students who remain eligible for MFOS and elect to study abroad in a fall or a spring semester will be allowed to apply their financial aid package to their abroad experience. Innovation Academy students are eligible in the spring or summer semester as those are semesters they are funded with MFOS aid. Keep in mind that you're expected to enroll in 12 UF credits during your term abroad to remain eligible for financial aid.

It is advisable to meet with the Study Abroad office in the HUB as well as with your Financial Aid advisor as you are planning your semester abroad. If costs to go abroad are higher than your allocated Financial Aid, you will likely be eligible for a student loan to cover the remaining cost. Additional scholarships can also help cover the difference. Check here for additional scholarships suggested by the UF International Center.

Students who elect to study abroad in the summer (or fall for Innovation Academy students) will be responsible for the full cost of the trip; however, loans are often available for summer study. Additionally, there are several scholarship opportunities that students can apply for to go abroad.

Scholars who opt to participate in a short term study abroad program (i.e. weeklong program during Spring Break) are eligible for loans but MFOS will not be increased to meet the need.

Will I remain eligible in the future if my total family income is greater than $40,000?

Each fall when you update your FAFSA, family income status is evaluated. If your family income increases significantly then you may be removed from the program. The reason for this is to stick to the mission of the program which is to fund students who come from historically low-income backgrounds. Students whose family income exceeds the threshold to remain eligible are able to petition the Office of Student Financial Affairs for consideration of extenuating circumstances.

If I have a question about Financial Aid or the FAFSA, who should I contact?

Student Financial Affairs which is located in Criser Hall.

If I have an academic advising question, who should I contact?

You will want to contact an academic advisor in your college. If you are an exploratory major, you may speak with an advisor in the Academic Advising Center (Farrior Hall).

Do I have to live on-campus?

No, but it is recommended that you live on-campus in your first-year so that you may become familiar with campus and participate in activities coordinated by the Department of Housing and Residence Education. Students may stay on campus their entire college career assuming they turn in needed forms and paperwork by established deadlines.

What do I need to do if I decide to move off-campus?

You will need to sign a lease with an apartment complex or other housing unit and realize that it will be your responsibility to pay your rent and utilities each month with the financial aid that is disbursed to you. Your financial aid package will be adjusted so that your housing allocation will come to you rather than go towards an on-campus residence hall. When MFOS students live on campus, rent is deferred and automatically paid from your financial aid. Moving off campus is a big responsibility and students will be expected to keep up with monthly bills on their own. We suggest asking your apartment complex if you can pay for your full semester of rent in August or January. This helps you budget your money appropriately. One piece of advice: find a roommate to keep costs lower and more manageable. Additionally, we suggest that scholars plan to pay January rent with their fall disbursement as spring disbursement often does not occur until mid-January and rent is usually due on the 1st or 5th of each month. We advise consulting the cost of attendance information found on the Financial Aid Website to see how much financial aid budgets for your housing expenses: http://www.sfa.ufl.edu/basics/cost-of-attendance/

Can I have a part-time job and still receive the MFOS scholarship?

Yes, however it is advisable to limit the number of hours worked per week to ensure that studies come first. The program is designed so that students do not need to work in order to fund their schooling but we realize that many students want to work or have additional financial responsibilities beyond the cost of college.

Are Innovation Academy students eligible for MFOS?

All incoming students, including those admitted into the Innovation Academy, who meet the minimum eligibility requirements are emailed a MFOS supplemental information form and are invited to complete it by the determined deadline. In the 2014 incoming MFOS class, there are 14 Innovation Academy students and in the 2015 incoming MFOS class, there are 9 IA students.

What happens if I do not earn 24 credits by the end of the spring semester (or summer semester for Innovation Academy)?

Scholars who fail to meet the credit hour renewal requirement can make up the deficit in the following summer at UF or another Florida community college or state university (per approval of transient form) but cannot receive MFOS funding for that term. For Innovation Academy scholars, they can make up a deficit in the following fall semester through either UF or another Florida community college or state university but without MFOS funding.

Only credits earned during semesters of degree-seeking student status will be counted towards the 24. Scholars who begin in Summer B may count those credits earned towards the 24. Innovation Academy (IA) scholars are not considered degree-seeking in their first fall semester and thus may not use credits earned toward the 24.

What happens if I take a semester off from UF? Am I still expected to earn 24 credits?

Scholars who are not enrolled in a fall or spring semester are reviewed for renewal based on having earned at least 12 credits in the one semester (fall or spring) that they were enrolled. While consecutive semesters are not required, the total length of MFOS funding will not exceed 6 years. The same applies for Innovation Academy scholars but the terms of enrollement are spring and summer.

What happens if my GPA falls below 2.0?

Scholars cumulative GPA must stay above 2.0 to be considered eligible. A term GPA below 2.0 will not impact the scholar's standing unless that term lowers the cumulative GPA below 2.0. Scholars who fail to meet the GPA renewal requirement must raise their GPA above a 2.0 in the following summer by taking credits at UF but cannot receive FOS funding for that term. For Innovation Academy scholars, they can attempt to raise their GPA by taking UF credits (online) in the fall semester but they cannot receive MFOS funding during this term.

What happens if I fail to meet the workshop requirement?

Scholars who fail to meet workshop requirement are given a written assignment with a due date. Student Financial Affairs, the Career Resource Center, and the MFOS program director are responsible for reviewing the written assignment and either pasing or failing the assignment based on content of the essay. Scholars who fail to complete the written assignment will not be continued on the program the following year for failure to complete the workshop requirement.

Special consideration is made if a student has a medically documented or other special circumstance that arises which prohibits them from completing this requirement. Scholars must work individually with the program director in this case. These students will still need to file a petition to remain eligible for the program.

I am in the Honors Program, can I substitute IDH4905 for the First-Year Florida SLS1102 requirement? I am a UF student-athlete, can I substitute SDS3480? I am a Business Student, what about GEB 4930?

Yes, both IDH4905, SDS3480, and GEB2015 are approved substitutes for SLS1102. You are still required to earn a C or better in the course to fulfill this requirement.

What happens if I do not meet the First-Year Florida SLS1102 requirement?

Scholars who fail to meet the First-Year Florida requirement will lose the scholarship unless an extenuating circumstance is documented and approved with a scholarship petition. Scholars have the ability to take and complete this requirement in any semester during their first year at UF.

What happens if I fail to meet the peer mentor requirement?

Scholars who fail to meet the peer mentor requirement will lose the scholarship unless an extenuating circumstance is documented and approved with a scholarship petition. Peer mentors document interaction and communication through monthly progress reports.

What happens if UF does not receive my completed FAFSA by December 15?

Scholars who fail to successfully submit a FAFSA to UF by the December 15 deadline will lose the scholarship unless an extenuating circumstance is documented and approved by a scholarship petition. The MFOS staff strongly urges scholars to submit their FAFSA by December 1 to avoid the potential that UF might receive it late.

If I fail to meet one of the scholarship renewal requirements, what does the petition process entail?

Scholars who do not meet one or more of the renewal requirements may submit a scholarship petition based on extenuating circumstances (with documentation) to continue on the program in the following year. Petitions are submitted to the Office of Student Financial Affairs and reviewed on an individual basis. It is recommended that scholars submit a petition within one year of being notified following the loss of their MFOS scholarship. After spring grades post (or summer grades for IA scholars), the Office of Student Financial Affairs will review renewal requirements. Scholars who have not met one or more renewal requirement will be contacted at that time and encouraged to submit a scholarship petition. Students can check their petition status via ISIS on the student's 'aid status' page.

Scholars who withdraw (either medical or non-medical) from a semester and have not earned 24 credits or 2.0 GPA requirements need to submit a petition. Successive petitions for this reason are not advisable.

How does completing a full-time internship affect my MFOS scholarship?

Well, it depends on if you're recieving UF credit for the internship or not. Scholars who elect to participate in a full-time/credit-bearing internship (at least 12 UF credits) are eligible for MFOS funding in that semester provided their internship credit appears on their UF schedule. Scholars who elect to participate in a full-time/non-credit-bearing internship are not funded in that semester as they are not an enrolled student.

Keep in mind that UF policy states that students must reapply if they do not enroll for two consecutive semesters. Therefore, students who elect to sit out a semester to complete an internship are advised to enroll in the following semester to continue their enrollment at UF.

Can I take less than 12 credits in my final semester if that's all I need to graduate?

Yes. In a scholar’s final semester, MFOS will fund the remaining credits needed to graduate provided they are enrolled in at least 3 credits. In fact, Financial Affairs will not pay for credits you take that are not needed. Be sure the credits you are completing in the final semester count for either your major or minor.

Graduating scholars are considered a full-time student with less than 12 credits for purposes of continuing to receive UF student services such as involvement in student organizations, use of the Counseling and Wellness Center and Disability Resource Center, and recreation facility use.

Does MFOS cover excess hours surcharge?

No. We suggest you speak to a Financial Aid Counselor in Criser Hall about options to cover any excess charges you may incur. It is also advisable to stay in regular communication with your academic advisor throughout your college career in order to avoid needed excess hours to complete your degree.

How do I receive a fee reduction waiver for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) testing fee?

As a MFOS scholar, you may qualify for a fee reduction waiver for the GRE testing fee. This waiver will reduce the cost of the GRE test to $100. In order to get the fee reduction waiver, please go to the student financial aid office (SFA) and let them know you are a MFOS student needing a fee waiver for the GRE. SFA will give you a sheet of paper that will act as the initial waiver request form. This form will need to be sent to the national testing office with additional information (instructions on the form). SFA will not issue you a Student Aid Report (SAR) which is requested to be submitted with the waiver request form. The SAR is a document that shows your expected family contribution. You can print a page from your FAFSA with this information on it called the “SAR” page. It is the first page of your FAFSA if you log onto FAFSA.gov and click to “view your FAFSA”. Once you have these two documents you need to send the waiver to the national testing office (address on the waiver request form from SFA). The national testing office will then review the request and send you back an official waiver. This may take about a month so we encourage students to begin the process early. You are not able to register for the GRE test until you get the official waiver back from the GRE national office. If you register prior to receiving the official request, you will pay for the test in full and will not be able to utilize the “half-price” reduction from the waiver. The official waiver will have more detailed directions for signing up for the test.

Will MFOS fund a flexible learning class?

Yes but you are required to pay for the course before you are permitted to enroll. If that’s financially difficult for you, you can go to Student Financial Affairs (Criser Hall) and request an interim loan during the drop/add period. An interim loan is essentially an advance on your funding for that semester. Also, keep in mind that you have to complete and show Student Financial Affairs your completed frst assignment in order for the credits to count towards your load that semester. If the flexible learning course credits are needed for you to be considered a full-time student (12 or more credits) then your aid for that term will likely be delayed.