What Can Prevent You from Being Eligible for Federal Financial Aid?

There are some things that make you not eligible for federal financial aid

Pixabay user kropekk_pl

College costs a lot, and that means that students have to come up with money to afford those costs. The federal government is the largest source of financial aid for college students. Therefore, many college students end up taking out federal aid in some form.

However, there are rules and eligibility requirements students must follow to qualify for federal financial aid. This means there are some things that can make you ineligible for federal aid. These include:

1. Not Filing the FAFSA

To receive federal financial aid, you must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can determine your Student Aid Index (SAI) and how much additional funding you’d require to help make your education more affordable.

The FAFSA is used by more than just the government. Many private scholarships and loan programs also use the information to calculate student need and how much aid they are willing to give that student.

2. Certain Criminal Convictions

It may come as no surprise that having a criminal record may impede one’s ability to get federal aid. Incarceration, misdemeanors, arrests, and serious crimes could all affect a student’s aid. Smaller offenses may not necessarily cut off a student from all aid, but they could limit the programs they qualify for as well as the amount of aid they could receive. Larger offenses could disqualify a student entirely.

No origination fees or prepayment penalties

Fixed rates from 3.70% - 8.24% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

3. Not a US Citizen or Eligible Noncitizen

While certain non-citizens can qualify for federal aid programs, most will require citizenship or a green card. Make sure you research to see the citizenship requirements for the various federal aid programs out there.

4. No Diploma or GED

To qualify for federal financial aid for college, a student must prove that they are capable of pursuing higher education. Without a high school diploma, GED, completion of a state-approved homeschooling program, or enrollment in an eligible career pathway program, you will not receive federal aid.

Who Is Eligible for Federal Financial Aid?

To be eligible for federal financial aid in the United States, you must generally be a U.S. citizen, national, or eligible non-citizens, possess a valid Social Security Number, and have either a high school diploma or GED. Enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program, and maintenance of satisfactory academic progress are also essential criteria.

Applicants should not be in default on federal student loans, should not have convictions for certain drug offenses, and must demonstrate financial need for need-based programs.

To apply for federal financial aid, prospective students and their families must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually. The FAFSA collects information on the applicant’s financial situation and is used to determine eligibility for various federal aid programs, including grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.

We strongly encourage everyone to file the FAFSA, and we mean everyone. It doesn’t matter if you think you don’t qualify, do it anyway! There’s no harm, and filing the FAFSA opens you up to federal aid and merit-based aid from colleges and could lead to getting more scholarships and grants.

You can also browse the College Raptor resources to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the U.S.—for FREE!


Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
5.99%-16.61%* Variable
4.24%-15.61%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
5.37% - 15.70% Variable
4.15% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
5.37% - 17.99% Variable
3.79% - 17.99% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
5.98% - 13.74% Variable
3.99% - 12.61% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
5.99% - 15.85% Variable
3.79% - 15.41% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.70% - 8.24% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 16.85% Variable
4.17% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.00% - 14.22% Variable
4.50% - 14.22% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.