The first question that pops up into the mind of a prospective student is if he or she is eligible for financial aid such as federal student loans or grants. Just so we are clear, we are specifically talking about government financial aid such as Stafford loans, Perkins loans or grants such as Pell grants etc.
The conditions or requirements to be eligible for financial aid are pretty straight forward.
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non U.S citizen such as a permanent resident.
- Demonstrate a financial need. Fairly obvious requirement. You have to show a need for financial aid to be able to receive a student loan or grant.
- Be currently enrolled or have secured admission to an eligible education institution in an approved associate, bachelor or graduate degree program.
- At the very minimum you must have a high school diploma or it’s equivalent such as a GED certification or you could simply pass a test that is approved by the Department of Education.
- Once you are in school you must maintain a satisfactory level of academic progress as determined by your school.
- You must continue to maintain your status as a full time student.
- Federal financial aid is to be strictly used for educational purposes only. A condition for receiving financial aid from the government is to certify that you will use the money from the student loan or grant strictly for educational purposes only.
- You must have a valid Social Security number. The only relaxation to this rule is if you are from the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of Palau or the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
- Absolutely no prior defaults on any federal student loans. You cannot be applying for a grant or a student loan when you already owe money and are in default on a previous loan.
- You must not be convicted under the state or federal law for selling or possessing illegal drugs.
- Finally if required to then comply with the Selective Service registration.
That’s pretty much it. If you satisfy the above requirements then yes, you are eligible to receive federal aid towards your education from the government. The next step in the whole financial aid process is to understand all the different options available to you to help finance your education.
We always recommend that you start with scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back and this makes it very attractive to students. It is important to explore all scholarships and grants early to give yourself the best possible chance to secure aid. Only when you have exhausted all options do you then work your way down to federal student loans such as Stafford loans and PLUS loans. You also have the choice of applying for a Perkins Loan but make sure you check first if you are eligible for a Perkins loan. Finally your last option should be to shop around for a private student loan.