Who is eligible to receive financial aid?

Financial aid consists of all awards from government sources, private organizations, and colleges themselves. Therefore, eligibility for financial aid will depend on the source of the aid.

For federal financial aid and most state programs, besides demonstrating financial need, students must meet the following requirements:

  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
  • have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
  • be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program;
  • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds;
    maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school;
  • sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM) stating that
    • you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
    • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
  • show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
    • having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or
    • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.

Private organizations and universities may not have the same requirements, which can open up their financial aid programs to international students. Many colleges require international students to complete the FAFSA even though they will not qualify for financial aid. By submitting the FAFSA, the school will have access to the student’s financial information.

Some colleges will require international students to submit the CSS PROFILE or the institution’s financial aid form for international students.

State aid will also often require students to submit the FAFSA to qualify for state aid. Some students who may not qualify for federal aid because of citizenship status may qualify for assistance through state programs such as the California Dream Act. Students need to check with each states‘ financial aid program for specific information.

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