Am I Eligible for Federal Financial Aid?

eligibility resized 600Federal financial aid is a great opportunity for students in need of assistance with the high cost of education. There is a set of requirements by the federal government that students must meet in order to qualify for financial aid, including a number of factors such as a student’s academic performance and a number of legal factors.

Federal Financial Aid – Academic Requirements

  1. You must have one of the following qualifications:
    1. High school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate.
    2. If you do not have a high school diploma or GED, you must pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test.
    3. A homeschooled high school curriculum that has been approved by state law.
    4. You must be a regular student, which means you are enrolled or have been accepted as a student working toward a degree or certificate in a school whose accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    5. You must meet certain academic standards set by your college or career school.

Federal Financial Aid – Legal Requirements

  1. You must be a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  2. You must have a valid Social Security Number (unless you’re from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau).
  3. You must certify that you will use your federal financial aid only for your education costs.
  4. You must be in compliance with Selective Service Registration. Males, aged 18-25 can give permission to register for Selective Service when they complete the FAFSA.
  5. If you have been convicted for the sale or possession of illegal drugs while you were receiving federally funded financial aid, you will lose your eligibility for financial aid for a certain period of time, depending on your conviction(s).
    1. Fill out a FAFSA even if you have been convicted since you may be eligible for nonfederal aid and the FAFSA information is used to determine and process nonfederal aid in addition to federal aid.

For the average student, financial aid is necessary to help pay for college and in addition to federally funded financial aid, students can benefit from state financial aid. But, even if you think you won’t qualify for need-based federal grants, you should complete a FAFSA to get access to low-cost federal student loans.

Source: “Funding Education Beyond High School,” Guide to Federal Student Aid, 2007-2008, U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid.

For more advice on how to pay for college and maneuver your way through the financial aid process, check out our brand new FAFSA Guide.

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