How Is Financial Aid Awarded

Q: How is financial aid awarded? Do I need to be poor to get financial aid?

A: No, you do not have to be poor to receive financial aid.

In fact, nearly all families are eligible to receive some form of financial aid. This is true regardless of the income and assets of the family.

When you qualify for financial aid, your financial aid money will be disbursed directly to your school. Any funds that are left over after your tuition and fees are paid will be given directly to you by your school.

Students that show exceptional need may qualify for MORE financial aid, but every student should apply for financial aid just to see what types of aid are offered.

If you do not apply, you will never know! So get in touch with your school Financial Aid Office and complete the FAFSA at

Do I Qualify for Financial Aid?
To receive aid from the federal student aid programs, you must meet certain criteria.

Financial Need: Except for some loan programs, you must show that you have financial need, according to our requirements. This basically means that you have outstanding costs at your school of attendance. If you do not have any outstanding school fees for example, you will not be eligible for financial aid. This is very basic.

Education Requirements: You must demonstrate by one of the following means that you are qualified to enroll in postsecondary education:

- Have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

- Pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test. If you do not have a diploma or GED, you can take an approved ATB test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school.

- Meet other standards your state established and that we have approved.

- Complete a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.

- You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.

- You must meet satisfactory academic progress standards set by the postsecondary school you are or will be attending. You might be able to receive aid for correspondence or telecommunications courses as long as they are part of a recognized certificate or degree program.

Legal and Other Requirements:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.

- You must have a valid Social Security number (SSN) (unless you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of Palau). If you do not have an SSN, you can find out more about applying for one at or by calling 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.

- When you apply for federal student aid you sign a statement that certifies that you will use federal student aid for educational purposes only. You also certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe a refund on a federal student grant (which could happen if you withdraw from school, for example).

- You must comply with Selective Service registration. If you are a male aged 18 through 25 and you have not registered you can, at the same time you complete your FAFSA, give the Selective Service System permission to register you by means of the FAFSA. You can also register online at or call 1-847-688-6888. TTY users can call 1-847-688-2567.

-Generally, if you have been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid, you will be ineligible for a period of time based on the type and number of convictions. If you answer “Yes” to this question, it is very important that you complete and submit the FAFSA to determine your eligibility. If you are submitting a paper FAFSA, you will be mailed a worksheet to assist you in determining whether your conviction affects your eligibility for federal student aid. If you are applying using FAFSA on the Web at, you will be provided the electronic version of the same worksheet during your online session.

If you need assistance or have any questions on how to answer this question, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) for help from the Federal Student Aid Information Center. Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid because of a drug conviction, you should still complete the FAFSA because most schools and states use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid.