The strongest deciding factor for students is whether they qualify for
federal financial aid at all once that decision is reached they are treated
like any other student.
The federal financial aid regulations define an eligible student as:
Federal Aid programs
A student who is enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program.
(A student who is currently enrolled in a elementary or secondary school
is not eligible to recieve federal aid even if they are concurrently enrolled
in a university. Students who are being homeschooled and concurrently
attending a university for additional course material do not qualify for
aid under this rule).
A student who has a high school diploma, eqivalent, or pass an ability
to benefit test.
Each states regulations about home schooled students differs. Check
out the state regulations for your state. How you are going to be
considered is going to vary by state. About.com keeps a running list
of home school regulations by state. http://homeschooling.about.com/library/weekly/aa072999.htm
The ACT is a department approved test, however, the final decision about
which test is usable is at the descresion of the financial aid officer
to best meet the needs of the student. In most cases the financial
aid officer wants to allow you access to federal funding it is still recommended
that when contacting schools you contact the financial aid office as well.
A student must make satisfactory academic progress while enrolled in that
Satisfactory academic progress is defined by each college or university.
However, a student who keeps their grades over a 2.0 average, doesn't drop
below full time on a regular basis and attends for only 4 years should
have no difficulty with a schools satisfactory academic progress policy.
Most programs require that the student be taking at least 6 credit hours
each semester that they are awarded aid. Some specific programs may
have additional requirments and those will be discussed individually.
Each of the programs named below are federal programs. To recieve
federal aid the student must meet the requirements above. Also to
recieve aid in any of these programs the student must complete the FAFSA
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and any requests for additional
information made by the school. The school financial aid office is
responsible for verifying the student's eligibility and in most cases the
federal government chooses the students that they must verify.
Some schools may also require additional documentation in addition
to the FAFSA this is perfectly within their responsibilities and any student
who does not comply cannot recieve aid. The FAFSA must be filled
out each year the student attends school. Most schools either require
or encourage that the FAFSA be due between Febuary and April before the
student begins attending in the Fall. This allows the student's file
to be fully processed before the fall semester.
The FAFSA defines for the student the families estimated family contribution
(EFC) the school then defines the school budget (cost for attending including
living expenses). The budget minus the estimated family contribution
provides a figure that is the student's financial need. I will periodically
mention need below.
Most of the information below is not essential but it gives you an idea
of the process the financial aid officer goes through when awarding you
aid and the types of aid available.
The primary federal programs are:
State Grant Programs
Pell Grant -- The pell grant program is an entitlement and is offered to
very high need students. The financial aid officer other than verifying
that information is accurate does not chose the amount of the award and
who it is offered to. The pell grant amount cannot be altered except
by the student taking less than full time hours. This is the only
federal aid program that can be awarded on less than 6 hours of enrollment.
This program also requires a secondary verification that the student is
taking the requisite hours and may require the student to return part of
the funds recieved if their status changes.
FSEOG (The Federal Supplimental Education Opportunity Grant) -- This grant
is adminstrated by the university and the university may make their own
criteria for awarding this grant. This grant is only adminstered
to the highest need students.
Federal Work Study -- The federal workstudy program is a program that allows
the student to work in specific types of job (usually on campus or community
service positions) and the federal government pays for most of the student's
cost of employement. The advantage to the student is that the pay
they recieve working for this program does not count as income for federal
aid status on the next year's FAFSA. The other advantage is the employer
has to work with scheduling to allow you to attend school and complete
Federal Perkins Loan -- This is a university adminstrated loan that is
partially funded by the federal government and partially funded by student
repayment. If this loan is offered to you it is the best loan to
take. The loan is guaranteed with no credit check and the interest
is frozen at 5%. There are also some cancellation opportunites available
to some (especially those that work in health professions and education).
This loan once turned down can be difficult to get back due to limited
funding in this program.
Most schools participate in the direct student loan program or the FFEL
(Federal Family Educational Loan) programs. The primary difference
in these programs is who actually funds the loan. In the direct loan
program the federal government funds the program while in the FFEL program
a bank funds the loan. Both types of loan have a federally regulated
interest rate (capped a 8.5 and varies every year; the yearly interest
is frozen for each loan recieved once the loan is taken), do not require
a credit check because the federal government is guaranteeing its repayment,
payment is deferred while the student is in school, and have federal guidelines
defining exactly how much funding the student can recieve in that program.
For those that show fiancial need the student will be eligible for a loan
that the federal government pays the interest while the student is in school
or if the student shows no financial need the student is eligible for an
unsubsidized loan. The unsubsidized loan builds up interest while
the student is in school but the student has the choice of whether to pay
the interest on that loan when in school. Loans require special processing
if the student is under 18 years of age.
Parent Plus Loan -- The primary funding for most middle class families
in the first and second year of school is the parent plus loan. The
parent plus loan can be used to fulfill the student's entire budget.
However, this loan is credit based and repayments must begin while the
student is still in school. The parent loan must be certified by
the school as fitting within the student's budget.
State grant programs vary vastly by state as do the requirements for
their programs. I will try to include more information about the grant
programs that require special requirements but that will take some time.
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
you know of state programs that need to be mentioned.
College Based Programs
Some colleges have their own funding that they use to assist students
to attend school. These will vary too much to have any hope of listing
them. Typically these programs have little overall effect on a student's
award package since these funds are very limited.
Back to main page