Federal Financial Aid: Eligibility and Grants
All students applying for federal aid and most students applying for state, institutional and other aid will need to submit the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). In order to qualify for federal aid, applicants need to meet several eligibility requirements:
- Prove financial need. Financial need is determined by the answers you give on your Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Have a high school diploma or GED, or prove eligibility by other means.
- Be enrolled at least part-time at an eligible school in an eligible degree program. Check with your school to make sure your school and program are eligible for federal aid.
- Meet academic progress standards.
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
- Have a valid Social Security number (exceptions include citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau).
- Males aged 18 to 25 must comply with Selective Service registration.
- Applicants cannot be in default on a federal student loan or owe a refund on a federal grant.
[source: Department of Education.]
Grants are probably the most coveted type of federal aid because they're essentially free money. You don't need to repay grants. The federal grants most applicable to career and technical students are:
- Pell Grants: Pell Grants are the type of grants awarded to most eligible students. The award amount varies from year to year.
- Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants: FSOGs are awarded to students who prove the most financial need. The award amount is $100 to $4,000 per year. Funds are limited, so not all students who qualify for an FSOG will be awarded one.
If you can't prove financial need or are otherwise ineligible to receive federal grants, consider applying for a federal loan or a work/study program. We'll talk about those on the next page.