Federal financial aid refers to funding offered by the federal government. It includes grants, work-study, and various types of student loans. All of these help to lower the cost of college considerably.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For Getting Federal Financial Aid?
Basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid include the following:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
- Have a valid Social Security number. Students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are exempt from this requirement.
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular full-time student in an eligible degree or certificate program. A regular student is one who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at a recognized education institution for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential offered by that institution.
- Demonstrate financial need. Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The COA may vary from one school to another, but your EFC remains the same regardless of which school you attend. This requirement is applicable for most but not all types of federal financial aid.
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school. Every school has their own satisfactory academic progress policy. In general, it includes maintaining a certain minimum GPA, receiving a certain percentage of attempted credits, and staying on track to complete your degree within a specified time frame.
- Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for financial aid through the Direct Loans Program
In addition, you are also required to show that you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education. This may include any one of the following:
- Have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
- Must have completed a high school education in an approved homeschool setting
- Have enrolled in an eligible career pathway program
Certain circumstances may warrant additional eligibility requirements. These may apply for students who are non U.S. citizens, students with intellectual disabilities, and students with criminal convictions.
The FAFSA & Federal Financial Aid
Submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a mandatory requirement in order to access any type of federal financial aid. This is an extensive application that asks for details about your financial situation and family circumstances. These details are then used to verify your need and eligibility for financial aid.
The FAFSA is available every year from October 1 to June 30 the following year. You have to submit the completed FAFSA for every year that you need financial aid. This is because your family or financial circumstances may change from one year to the next, which warrants a recalculation of your need and eligibility for financial aid.
We advise you to fill out your FAFSA, as early as possible after October 1. That’s because financial aid is often disbursed on a first-come first-served basis. If you submit the application late and the financial aid is exhausted, you may not receive the full amount that you’re entitled to.
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