Federal Student Aid Programs


grad-moneyFederal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, administers financial assistance programs consisting of grants, work-study and loans for postsecondary education. Providing more than $150 billion in aid each year, Federal Student Aid is the nation's largest source of student aid funding.

Federal Student Aid provides financial help for eligible students to pay for education expenses at an eligible postsecondary school (e.g., college, nursing school, vocational school, graduate school). There are three categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study, and loans. Check with your school to find out which program(s) it participates in.

Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer, lab fees, required nursing uniforms, and for dependent care.

The amount and type of federal aid the U.S. Department of Education provides doesn't always depend solely on financial need. Once students apply for aid, many are surprised by the amount of aid they receive!

See Getting Financial Aid for Nursing School: Your Guide to the FAFSA to learn how to apply for the Federal Student Aid programs listed here.

Am I Eligible?

Eligibility for federal student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors. The basic list of criteria includes:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • You must have a valid Social Security number (SSN)
  • Demonstrate financial need (some loan and scholarship programs are excepted).
  • Register (if you haven't already) with Selective Service, if you're a male between the ages of 18 and 25
  • Prove that you're qualified to obtain a postsecondary education by
    • Having a high school diploma, home schooling diploma, or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or by
    • Passing an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test. If you don't have a diploma or GED
    • Completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate; or
    • Meeting other federally approved standards your state establishes
  • You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.
  • You must certify that you will use federal student aid for educational purposes only
  • Certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe a refund on a federal student grant
  • You must meet satisfactory academic progress standards set by the postsecondary school you are or will be attending

There are three types of federal student aid

Grants: Financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund).

Work-Study: Allows you to earn money for your education.

Loans: Allow you to borrow money for your education; you must repay your loans, with interest.

Grants and Work-Study Programs

1.Federal Pell Grant: Is a Grant, which means it does not have to be repaid. Available almost exclusively to undergraduates; student may receive up to 2 consecutive maximum awards in a year if attending school year-round. Maximum award amount is $5,815 (2016/2017 school year). Subject to change every July 1st.  More Info

2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): Also a Grant which does not have to be repaid, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are available in amounts of $100 to $4,000 for undergraduates with exceptional financial need; Federal Pell Grant recipients take priority; funds depend on availability at school.  More Info

3. Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education(TEACH) Grant: This grant does not have to be repaid unless you fail to carry out the service obligation. Awards up to $4,000 a year for undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, and graduate students who are taking or will be taking course work necessary to become an elementary or secondary school teacher. Service obligation and other requirements apply.  More Info

4. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: For students who are not Pell Grant eligible, and whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001; and who, at the time of the parent's or guardian's death, were less than 24 years old or were enrolled at least part-time at an institution of higher education. Maximum is same as Pell maximum; payment adjusted for less than full- time study.  More Info

5. Federal Work-Study: Money earned while attending school; does not have to be repaid. For undergraduate and graduate students. No annual minimum or maximum amounts. Jobs can be on campus or off campus; students are paid at least federal minimum wage.  More Info

Loans (Must Be Repaid)

1. Federal Perkins Loans: Are available for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least half-time who demonstrate financial need. Undergraduate students: up to $5,500 a year, Graduate and professional students: up to $8,000 a year. Amount actually received depends on financial need, amount of other aid, availability of funds at school. This loan has an interest rate of 5% and must be repaid to the school that made the loan within ten years after graduation or last date of attendance. More Info

2. Direct Subsidized (Stafford) Loan: Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. Your school determines the amount you can borrow, and the amount may not exceed your financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan while you’re in school at least half-time; for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*); and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).  More Info

3. Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans:  Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive. You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).  More Info

4. Direct PLUS Loans: These loans pay for the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received for graduate students enrolled at least half-time and Parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay the cost of their child's education. Financial need is not required, but must not have adverse credit history. The U.S. Department of Education is the lender. This loan is unsubsidized (you are responsible for paying all interest which is currently set at 6.31%).  More Info

Because financial aid sources vary between schools, your best and quickest source of information on student financial aid is the financial aid office at your nursing school of choice. After selecting schools that offer the nursing degree programs that interest you simply complete the request for information form available for that school in order to speak with an advisor.


Recommended Resources

Federal Student Loan Programs Summary

www.studentaid.ed.gov - This site will help you find more information on federal student aid.

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