Once you’ve filled out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and received your grant, loan, or work-study funds to help you pay for college or career school, make sure you stay eligible throughout the academic year—and in subsequent years.
Remember, the basic eligibility criteria that allow you to get federal student aid continue to apply throughout the time you’re receiving aid—not just when you first fill out the FAFSA form and are awarded aid.
You need to make satisfactory academic progress in order to continue receiving federal student aid. In other words, you have to make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to your school.
Each school has a satisfactory academic progress policy for financial aid purposes; to see your school’s, you can check your school’s website or ask someone at the financial aid office. Your school’s policy will tell you
- what grade-point average (or equivalent standard) you need to maintain;
- how quickly you need to be moving toward graduation (for instance, how many credits you should have successfully completed by the end of each year);
- how an incomplete class, withdrawal, repeated class, change of major, or transfer of credits from another school affects your satisfactory academic progress;
- how often your school will evaluate your progress;
- what will happen if you fail to make satisfactory academic progress when your school evaluates you;
- whether you are allowed to appeal your school’s decision that you haven’t made satisfactory academic progress (reasons for appeal usually include the death of a member of your family, your illness or injury, or other special circumstances); and
- how you can regain eligibility for federal student aid.
When you fill out the FAFSA form, you are applying for aid for a specific year. In order to receive aid the next year, you’ll need to submit that next year’s FAFSA form. Luckily, the FAFSA website makes it easy for you by allowing you to submit a Renewal FAFSA form that remembers certain information you reported the year before and places it in your new FAFSA form.