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Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid. Students who may not be eligible for need-based aid may still be eligible for an unsubsidized Stafford Loan regardless of income or circumstances.

A student who can meet the following criteria may be eligible for aid:

  • is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen;
  • has a valid Social Security number;
  • has a high school diploma or GED or for adult students, pass an Ability-to-Benefit test;
  • is registered with the U.S. Selective Service (male students age 18-25);
  • completes a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for education purposes;
  • does not owe refunds on any federal student grants;
  • is in a degree seeking program (many certificate programs included as well, check with school)
  • is not in default on any student loans; and
  • has not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs while federal aid was being received.

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) changes the criteria for suspension of eligibility for drug-related offenses. Previously, students could lose eligibility for either the possession or sale of a controlled substance during the period of enrollment. SAFRA drops the penalties for possession of a controlled substance but retains the penalties for sale of a controlled substance. SAFRA increases the suspension to two years for a first offense and indefinite for a second offense.

Students who are military veterans and active duty service members may apply for financial aid by filing a FAFSA even if they also apply for education and housing benefits offered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and its accompanying Yellow Ribbon program. The amount of military aid a student receives for a college education does not defer eligibility or reduce the amount of student aid that student could receive from the four federal grant programs - Pell, SMART, ACG, and TEACH - and many of the state student aid programs.

Types of financial aid

By completing the FAFSA you are applying for several different types of financial aid, ranging from grants, to low interest loans, to part-time jobs. The four most common types of Federal aid are listed below:

*  Perkins Loan, which has a a rate of 5% and ranges in award from $0 tp $5,500 per year
*  Direct Stafford Loan (see rates below)
*  Direct PLUS Loan (see rates below)
*  Pell Grant
 
Students and parents planning to borrow federal student loans between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 will be paying more in interest than they did in the 2015-2016 school year.  Federal student loan interest rates are tied to the 10-year Treasury. The yield of the auction held this year was 0.80% higher than last year’s which means federal student loan interest rates will increase by the same margin. Here is a breakdown of the new federal student loan interest rates by program:
 
Federal Student Loan Interest Rates 2015-2016
Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Student Loans – Undergraduates 4.66%
Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans – Graduate Students 6.21%
Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate and Professional Students 7.21%
Direct PLUS Loan for Parents 7.21%

Federal student loan rates are locked in for the period in which they are borrowed. The new, rates will only apply to loans borrowed in the 2015-2016 academic year. Rates will be reset again during the 10-year Treasury note auction held for June 1, 2016, for the 2016-2017 school year.

Filing options

Students have two options when preparing their annual federal student aid application: file the form on the U.S. Department of Education's website or get help from a professional fee-based preparer. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 authorized fee-based FAFSA preparation. (The options are much like those for taxpayers who may either prepare their own income tax forms or get assistance from professional tax-preparation services or software.)  Fee-based preparation of the aid form had been allowed as early as 1995. HEOA formalized the option in 2008.

  

To File Your FAFSA, Renewal FAFSA or CSS Profile, schedule a 1 on 1 appointment with an experienced financial aid counselor.

 

 

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