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Financial Aid Basics

What’s the Issue?

Federal student aid is financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Education that’s available if you’re enrolled in an eligible program* as a regular student* at a school participating in our federal student aid programs.
There are three main "types" of financial aid:

  • Grants & Scholarships - funds that do not have to be repaid by the student
  • Loans - Federal and Private Student Loans, money lent to the student (or student's parents) to pay for college that has to be repaid
  • Work study - funds a student earns through a campus-sponsored work program.

How does this affect me?

Basic eligibility requirements:

  • Demonstrate financial need (except for certain
  • loans, see pages 9 and 10).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen* (for
  • most programs) with a valid Social Security
  • number (SSN).
  • Be working toward a degree or certificate
  • in an eligible program.*
  • Show, by one of the following means, that you’re
  • qualified to obtain a 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.
  • Complete a high school education in a home
  • school setting approved under state law.
  • Register (if you haven’t already) with the Selective
  • Service, if you’re a male between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress* once in
  • school.

Helpful Resources