Who is eligible for Federal financial aid?
All students who may need financial assistance for college are encouraged to
apply for aid. Even if you think you may not be eligible, you may be pleasantly
surprised so make sure you apply. Eligibility depends upon several factors
including parental income and assets, the number of people the parents support,
and the number of children attending college. Even if a student isn't eligible
for grants, there are a number of loan programs available. There are also some
basic eligibility requirements for most kinds of financial aid that are not
related to your financial need. You must:
Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non citizen (see the FAFSA for more detail)
Be registered with Selective Service (if required)
Be working toward a degree, certificate or eligible goal (like transfer)
Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal educational
Be a high school graduate or have the equivalent of a high school diploma (like
a GED) or take a special test to show you have the ability to benefit from
Not have had eligibility for federal student aid suspended due to a
conviction of drug possession or sales in the recent past (see the FAFSA for
What do I need to do to get Financial Aid?
To receive financial aid, you must take these steps:
Apply to schools you would like to attend
Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and
any other forms the schools may require
After you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), submit it to the school you
wish to attend
Evaluate financial aid offers (Award Letters) received from each school to
determine the offer you want to accept
Apply for federal student loans to fill funding gaps not covered by
scholarships and grants awarded to you
If you need additional funds beyond the federal student loan maximum borrowing
limit, apply for a alternative loan
What types of Financial Aid are available?
Financial aid comes in many shapes and sizes depending on your needs. It
includes merit-based aid like scholarships, need-based aid like grants, federal
student loans like the Federal PLUS Loan and the Federal Stafford Loan, federal
work-study programs, and credit-based alternative loans to bridge funding gaps
not covered by traditional forms of financial aid.
When should I begin the financial aid process?
The best time to begin the financial aid process is the beginning of the year
before you plan to go to college, but not later than the December prior to the
first year you plan to start school. It is important to spend time researching
your financial aid options, applying for any "free money" such as scholarships,
and working on completing the necessary forms by the stated deadlines. The
FAFSA form should be submitted as soon as possible after January 1 for entrance
in the fall semester.