Different types of aid (private scholarships, state grants, etc.) have different rules, called eligibility criteria, to determine who gets the aid. Here are the eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.
Basic Eligibility Criteria
Students With a Parent Who Was Killed in Iraq or Afghanistan
Students With Criminal Convictions
Students With Intellectual Disabilities
For a quick glance at the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid, check out this graphic. (You can view the graphic in a new window or tab, where you’ll be able to enlarge it.)
Our general eligibility requirements include that you have financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school, and more. Make sure you are familiar with our basic eligibility criteria, and ask a college financial aid office if you have any questions about whether you qualify.
Did you know?
There is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Many factors—such as the size of your family and your year in school—are taken into account.
If your parent died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you might be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funding or for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
Generally, if you have a “green card” (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an “eligible noncitizen” and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria. Full details of which immigration statuses make you an eligible noncitizen are at our "Non-U.S. Citizens" page.
If you are incarcerated, have a conviction for a drug offense, or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment after completing a period of incarceration for a sexual offense, your eligibility for federal student aid may be limited.
Students with intellectual disabilities may receive funding from the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs in certain circumstances.
Once you’re in college or career school, make sure you stay eligible for federal student aid by paying attention to a few things, including keeping on track toward graduation. And remember to fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form every year.
You might lose federal student aid eligibility in a number of ways. Some of the most common are that you
- are in default on a federal student loan,
- don’t maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school, or
- are convicted of a drug offense.