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Who can get federal aid?
Eligibility for our programs is based on financial need and on several other factors. Your eligibility is determined by the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) see next page.
Here are some of the basic requirements you must meet:
Demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans see next page).
Demonstrate by one of the following means that you're qualified to enroll in postsecondary education:
Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate;
Pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test (if you don't have a diploma or GED, a school can administer a test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school);
Meet other standards your state establishes that we have approved; or
Complete a high school education in a home school setting approved under state law.
Be working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.
Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen (such as a permanent resident).
Maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school.
You might not be able to receive federal student aid if you've been convicted under federal or state law of selling or possessing illegal drugs. If you have a conviction for these offenses, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (see the inside front cover of this publication for contact information) to find out your status. Even if you're ineligible for federal aid, you should still complete the federal student aid application (the FAFSA see the next column): Many schools and states use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for aid they offer.
If you have a question about your citizenship status, contact the financial aid office at the college or career school you plan to attend.
How do I apply?
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applying is FREE.
But I hate filling out a bunch of paperwork.
All you need for federal student aid is our application, referred to as the FAFSA. You might have to complete an additional application to be considered for school or state aid, but many schools and states use FAFSA information for this purpose.
Could I apply online?
Yes; in fact, it's faster and easier than using a paper FAFSA. You can complete our online application, FAFSA on the Web, from your home computer or computer at a central location like your high school, your local public library, or your local educational opportunity center.
Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to apply, or go through our Web site, www.studentaid.ed.gov. At that site, click on the FAFSA logo in the left column.
Before you apply, you should get a PIN to make the application process go even faster. See the next column for information on the PIN.
What if I decide I want a paper application?
You can get a paper FAFSA in English or Spanish from your local library or high school, the college or career school you plan to attend, or our Federal Student Aid Information Center (see the contact information on the inside front cover of this publication).
Just mail your FAFSA in the pre-addressed envelope that's in your FAFSA packet. Or, before mailing it, you could check to see if your school, or a school that interests you, offers the option of submitting your FAFSA data electronically.
When do I apply?
You can apply beginning Jan. 1 of your senior year in high school. You have until June 30 of the following year to submit your FAFSA. For the 2005-2006 award year, for example, applications must be submitted between Jan. 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006. There are no exceptions to the deadlines. You must reapply for student aid for each year you'll be enrolled in a college or career school. Eligibility is determined for one award year at a time. The results of a 2005-2006 application will be good only for the 2005-2006 award year (July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006) and any summer terms a school considers part of that award year.
When you're a senior, try to apply as soon as possible after Jan. 1. Schools and states often have much earlier deadlines than ours. For example, school or state deadlines for 2005-2006 are often in February or March 2005.
After you've applied for the first time, you might be able to apply more easily and quickly in later award years by completing a Renewal FAFSA is also available online at FAFSA on the Web You'll receive information about the Renewal FAFSA when it's time for you to use it.
What do I need before I fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
You need to have a Social Security Number (SSN).
We use your SSN to verify your information and locate your federal student aid records. If you don't have an SSN yet, you should apply for one at your local Social Security office. You can find out more about applying at www.ssa.gov.
It's not a requirement, but you should have a PIN.
If you use our online FAFSA on the Web to apply for aid, having a PIN (a personal identification number) before you apply lets you "sign" your FAFSA electronically at the time you submit. That way, the student aid process can be completed quickly and totally online, and you'll get your results faster.
You request a Pin at www.pin.ed.gov. Don't wait until you apply to request a PIN. You can get one anytime. You'll receive your PIN either through regular mail or e-mail, if you provide your e-mail address.
Even if you fill out a paper FAFSA, you should still request a PIN because you can use it to:
Look up your processed FAFSA data online;
You can usually make changes to a paper SAR, if that's what you received. Then, sign it and mail it back. Make sure you keep a photocopy of your SAR containing the corrections. Note that correcting a paper SAR is a slower process than making corrections online.
If you misplace your SAR, you can request a duplicate by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center (see the inside front cover for the number.)
Once my SAR is correct and complete, how do I find out if I'm eligible and what aid I'll receive?
Contact the financial aid offices of the school(s) you're interested in. If you're eligible for federal student aid, each school will send you an award letter telling you the types of aid it will offer and how much you can receive. This combination of aid is known as your "financial aid package." Review the award letters carefully and compare how much you can receive at each school.
Types of Federal Student Aid
There are three types of federal student aid; grants, work study, and loans.
Grants are financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund).
Work-study allows you to earn money for your education.
Loans allow you to borrow money for school. You must repay your loans, with interest.
You apply for all three types of aid by filling out just one application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are two types of grants: Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs).
Generally, to receive a grant, you must be an undergraduate student (someone who hasn't earned a bachelor's or graduate degree).
You can be enrolled full time or part time.
How much can I get?
Federal Pell Grants Award amounts can be change yearly. For the 2004-2005 award year (July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005).grants ranged from $400 to $4,050.
The amount you receive depends not only on your financial need but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. You can receive only one Pell Grant in an award year, and you can't receive Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
(FSEOGs) Awards range from $100 to $4,000 a year.
FSEOGs are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need those with the lowest Expected Family Contributation (EFC) numbers. Federal Pell Grant recipients receive priority for FSEOG awards.
What's the difference between these grants?
If you're eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you'll receive the full amount you qualify for each school participating in the program receives enough funds to pay the Pell amounts for all its eligible students. The amount of other student aid you might qualify for does not affect the amount of your Pell Grant.
Receiving other aid might reduce the amount of your FSEOG award. Also, each school participating in the school's FSEOG program receives a certain amount of FSEOG funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education. The school's financial aid office decides how best to award those funds. When all FSEOG awards can be made for that year that's why not everyone who qualifies for an FSEOG might get one.
How will I be paid?
Your school can credit your grant funds to your school account, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. Also, with your permission, schools can credit your bank account. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that don't use formally defined, traditional terms must disburse funds at least twice per academic year.