The U.S. Department of Education provides more than $150 billion every year in grants, work-study funds, and loans to students attending college or career school.

To qualify for federal financial aid, you must satisfy the requirements listed below. These requirements are generally the same as those for aid from a state or college, but some colleges may award aid to students who do not qualify for federal aid.

Citizenship Status

You must have a valid Social Security Number unless you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau. And you must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national
  • Be a U.S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (green card)
  • Have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Have “battered immigrant-qualified alien” status
  • Have a T-visa or a parent with a T-1 visa
  • If you are male (defined as male at birth), be registered with Selective Service (must register between the ages of 18 and 25).

If you are an undocumented student (which includes anyone under DACA status) or work with undocumented students, download the U.S. Department of Education’s Resource Guide for Undocumented Youth for assistance with college planning.

Academic Status

To receive federal student aid, you must meet all of these academic requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma, General Education Development (GED) certificate, or a complete high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school

Financial Status

You must also satisfy both of these criteria related to your finances:

  • Certify on the FAFSA® that you are not in default on a deferral student loan, do not owe a refund on a federal grant, and will use federal student aid only for education purposes
  • Have financial need, which means that the Cost of Attendance at a college (which varies by school) is greater than your Expected Family Contribution

More Information

If you have any questions about your eligibility for financial aid:

  • Visit StudentAid.gov for information about your eligibility for financial aid from the federal government
  • Contact each college’s financial aid office for details about your eligibility for financial aid from that college and from your state of residence