Federal Student Aid
College costs can be high, so federal student aid is financial assistance for students who need help paying for college. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides federal student aid, which includes grants, loans, and work-study. Federal student aid can be used to cover the costs of your college's tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. This aid can also be used to help pay for a computer and dependent child care expenses.
How Do I Apply?
FAFSA Forecaster tool
Apply for your FSA ID (Electronic signature for FAFSA) - needed by both student and parent.
- Apply as early as possible beginning October 1st of each year
- Individual schools and states have their own deadlines, so check the site for each college to which you are applying
*Another resource from CollegeBoard on Financial Aid
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
Regardless of your current financial status, we encourage all families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here is a quick video regarding the FAFSA (click here)
Around 250 schools (mostly private) require the completion of the CSS Profile, in addition to the FAFSA. The profile should be submitted online at http://profileonline.collegeboard.com
Should We File?
Some financially secure parents ask whether it is worthwhile to apply for financial aid if they earn a high income. They want to know what income and asset levels are too high to qualify for financial aid.
The FAFSA is a prerequisite for unsubsidized Federal Stafford and Federal PLUS loans. These loans are available without regard to demonstrated financial need. The family does not need to be poor to qualify for these federal education loans. Even wealthy students and parents can get these low-cost loans.
So, unless the parents earn more than $350,000 a year, have more than $1 million in reportable assets, have only one child in college and that child is enrolled at a public college, they should still file the FAFSA. If the family wants to receive federal education loans, they should file the FAFSA regardless of their income and assets.
Students must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens to receive federal student financial aid and state grants. If a student has recently become a U.S. citizen, he/she should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure that his/her citizenship status is correctly associated with his/her Social Security number. Otherwise, when the U.S. Department of Education matches data with the SSA, the SSA may report that the student is not a citizen and may be considered ineligible to receive federal and state aid.
For financial aid purposes, an eligible noncitizen is someone who meets one of the following criteria:
- A U.S. permanent resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551), also known as a green card
- A conditional permanent resident with a Conditional Green Card (I-551C)
- Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any of the following designations: Refugee, Asylum Granted” Parolee (I-94 confirms that the student was paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.) or Cuban-Haitian Entrant
- The holder of a valid certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services showing a designation of Victim of human trafficking
- A citizen of the Freely Associated States (i.e., the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM))
- A Canadian-born Native American under terms of the Jay Treaty.
- Battered Immigrants-Qualified Aliens and their children, as provided for in the Violence Against Women Act.
Students who have received a notice of approval to apply for permanent residence (Forms I-171 or I-464) or family unit status (Form I-797) are not eligible for federal student aid. Students with temporary resident cards (Forms I-688, I-688A or I-688B) are also not eligible for federal student aid.
If students indicate “eligible noncitizen,” they should write in their 8- or 9-digit Alien Registration Number (ARN). Alien Registration Numbers may also be called A-Numbers. Students should precede an 8-digit number with a zero.
If a student has a “work-only” Social Security number (SSN) issued through the new Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy or a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), the student is NOT eligible for federal financial aid and, therefore, should not complete the FAFSA. Students in this situation are encouraged to contact the colleges and universities they are considering to determine if state and/or institutional funds are available and, if so, what steps they should take to apply for such funding.
Sometimes, the student will be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a Social Security number, but one or both of the student’s parents will not have Social Security numbers because they are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The student is still eligible for federal student aid and should complete the FAFSA with his or her Social Security number. When the form asks for the parent’s Social Security numbers, use 000-00-0000.
If the student is not a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, the student is not eligible for federal student aid. For example, students who are in the U.S. on an F-1 or F-2 student visa, a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor visa, an M-1 vocational student visa, an A-1, A-2 or A-3 visa (foreign officials and their attendants), a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa (to work as a personal or domestic employee) or a G series visa (pertaining to international organizations) are not eligible for federal student aid.
Non-immigrant students who are in the U.S. on one of the following types of visas are not eligible for federal student aid: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, TN, TD, V, TROV, and NATO. However, some such students may be eligible for financial aid from their college or state and should check with the college as to which forms they should complete. Some colleges will ask the student to complete the FAFSA as a convenient way for the college to get the data they need to determine eligibility for need-based financial aid.
Note that T visa holders are eligible to apply for federal and some state student financial aid. T visa holders should file a FAFSA and identify themselves as eligible non-citizens.
U visa holders are not eligible for federal student financial aid, but they may be eligible for some state aid programs.
Family Unity Status individuals are not eligible for federal student financial aid. A student with an I-94 stamped “Temporary Protected Status” is not eligible for federal student aid.