Here are the eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.
Basic Eligibility Criteria
Eligibility for Federal Student Aid Graphic
For a quick glance at the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid, check out this graphic.
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’re 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.
Students With a Parent Who Was Killed in Iraq or Afghanistan
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. Details of which immigration statuses make you an eligible noncitizen are at our “Non-U.S. Citizens” page.
Students With Criminal Convictions
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
The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t provide a financial aid program specifically for students who are homeless. However, homeless students can receive money for college if they meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid.
Here are some resources for students who are homeless:
- Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth
- FAFSA® dependency status information (certain homeless students may not have to report parent information on the FAFSA form)
- I Want to Go to College: Now What?
- Identifying and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness from Pre-School to Post-Secondary Ages—this page is aimed at professionals assisting homeless students, but students may be interested in a few of the links that provide information about services or offices that can help
The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t provide a financial aid program specifically for students who are (or have been) in foster care. However, such students can receive money for college if they meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid.
Here are some resources for students who are (or have been) in foster care:
- Educational and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Care Youth
- FAFSA® dependency status information (certain students who are or have been in foster care may not have to report parent information on the FAFSA form)
- Foster Care Transition Toolkit
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.