Most students can get financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college or career school. Your eligibility for federal student aid is unaffected by your age, race, or subject of study. Even though your and your family’s income is taken into account to calculate aid, it doesn’t automatically exclude you from receiving federal student aid.
What are the Basic Criteria to be Eligible for FAFSA?
To apply for the FAFSA, you must meet the basic eligibility criteria. Some of them are listed below:
- Be a citizen of the United States or an eligible noncitizen.
- Have a valid Social Security Number. This clause doesn’t apply to students from the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
- Maintain a satisfactory academic progress record.
- Register at a school or an academic institution, or show proof of acceptance for enrollment as a regular student.
- Provide information in regards to your financial need to qualify for need-based financial aid.
- Be enrolled at least half-time if you wish to qualify for a Direct Loan.
- Sign the declaration on the FAFSA form certifying that you will only utilize federal student aid for educational purposes such as room and board, tuition, and fees.
- You also need to state that you are not delinquent on any federal student loans and don’t owe any money on student grants.
- You need to prove that you’re qualified to get a school, college, or career school education either by earning a high school diploma or its equivalent, or by completing high school in a state-approved homeschool setting.
Does Your Age Matter for FAFSA Eligibility?
There is no age limit to apply for FAFSA. However, your age can be considered to determine your dependent or independent status and, thus, might affect how much aid you’re eligible for.
Submitting the FAFSA Form
You need to apply for FAFSA through the Federal Student Aid website. You’re required to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID which you can use to apply and track your application. You’ll need the FSA ID even after submitting the FAFSA so keep it safe.
When filling out the form, you need to provide information related to income, age, and submit the necessary documents for income tax, untaxed income, assets, bank records, driving license, and SSN among others.
FAFSA Eligibility for Noncitizens
If you fit into one of the following categories, you are regarded as an “eligible noncitizen”:
- You possess a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C, also referred to as a “green card,” which certifies your status as a permanent resident of the United States.
- You have Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the USCIS demonstrating any of the following statuses:
- “Asylum granted”
- “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
- “Conditional Entrant”
- Proof of T or T-1 nonimmigrant status.
- You hold a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” status.
To know more, check this Federal Student Aid page dedicated to non-U.S. citizens.
What is the Maximum Income Limit to Qualify for FAFSA?
There is no income limit to apply to the FAFSA, but income limits may dictate which type of aid you qualify for and how much you can get.
Also, it’s important to note FAFSA is not a scholarship or grant or loan; it’s the application form students need to submit if they’re looking for financial aid like Federal Pell Grants.
If you want to qualify for automatic zero EFC for the 2022-23 academic year, your parents’ combined income in 2020 should be $27,000 or less.
Pell Grant Eligibility
Undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need and do not already hold a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree are typically eligible for federal Pell Grants.
In certain circumstances, though, a student participating in a post baccalaureate teacher certification program may be eligible for this too.
Your financial need, the cost of attending school, whether you are a full- or part-time student, and whether you intend to stay in school for the entire academic year or less will all affect how much aid you receive.
In contrast to a loan, a federal Pell Grant is not subject to repayment.
To receive the grant, you need to submit the FAFSA form.
The maximum Federal Pell Grant award for 2022–2023 is $6,895 with a corresponding expected family contribution (EFC) of $5,846.
Is Selective Service Required for FAFSA Eligibility?
Selective Service is no longer required for the 2023-24 FAFSA.
What Disqualifies You from FAFSA?
Your eligibility for student aid may be impacted by incarceration, misdemeanors, arrests, and serious crimes.
Although minor violations might not entirely bar a student from receiving aid, certain types of programs may not be available for them and it might impact the total amount they can get.
Serious charges may result in disqualification.
Do Drug Convictions Affect FAFSA Eligibility?
Starting 2023-24 academic year, drug offenses no longer impact federal student aid eligibility.
You’ll be asked in the form if you had a drug conviction when you were on federal student aid. If your answer is yes, you’ll receive a worksheet to answer further questions, but this won’t affect your eligibility.
Can You Lose FAFSA Eligibility?
Remember that you must meet the fundamental requirements to remain eligible for federal student aid at all times, not just when you initially submit your FAFSA and are granted aid.
You can lose your FAFSA eligibility for various reasons. Some of the possible reasons are:
- If you don’t submit the FAFSA form every year.
- If you fail to maintain satisfactory academic progress or your grades slip.
- You haven’t completed enough credits.
- You defaulted on your student loan.
- If your eligible nonresident status has expired or has been revoked.
- You’re no longer enrolled in a program that qualifies you for funding because you switched your major.
How to Regain FAFSA Eligibility?
You can regain your FAFSA eligibility by addressing the issues that caused this problem.
For example, if you default on a student loan, you need to repay it.
If it’s due to a bad academic track record or insufficient credits, you need to talk to your school and find ways to appeal that decision if that’s possible.
Or if you received student aid in excess, that is beyond the maximum limit you’re originally eligible to get, you need to pay it back.