6 Ways You Can Lose Federal Student Aid Eligibility
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Any U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen that meets basic eligibility requirements is eligible for federal student aid. Many of these criteria are fairly easy to accomplish, such as having a valid Social Security Number, being registered with the Selective Service (if male), and completing and signing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While meeting basic eligibility criteria is not hard, there are ways that students can lose their FSA eligibility. The following list details some of these different scenarios:
1. Student Loan Default
Defaulting on a previous student loan will prohibit you from taking out future student aid. You must clear up the defaulted loan(s) before you will become eligible again.
2. Failure to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
This will keep you from getting any subsequent FSA until you regain good academic standing. SAP standards are different depending on the school you are attending, so make sure you are fully aware of your school’s policy. Your school may allow you to appeal a SAP failure, and those students who have a legitimate argument may be able to win the appeal.
3. Getting a Drug Conviction
Any drug convictions can have a negative effect on your ability to receive financial aid. There are some exceptions to this situation, so if you do find yourself convicted of a drug-related charge, you should discuss your options with a financial aid advisor at your school.
4. Becoming Incarcerated
If you become incarcerated while you are using FSA, you may lose some or all of your FSA eligibility. Again, there are exceptions to this situation, so discussing your options with a financial aid advisor would be recommended.
5. Changing to a Non-Eligible Program
If you change your program to a non-eligible program for FSA, you obviously will not be able to receive any FSA while you are enrolled in that program. FSA eligibility for programs depends on the school you are attending. For example, general studies programs may not be eligible for FSA in one school, but they would in a different school. Make sure you fully understand which programs are and are not eligible for each school you are contemplating.
6. Dropping Below Half-Time Status
To receive FSA loans (both unsubsidized and subsidized), you must be enrolled at least at a half-time status. You can receive the Pell Grant, and may be able to receive other grants and scholarships at less than half-time, but there is no exception for loans. If you want to receive the full amount of FSA you are eligible for, you will have to enroll at half-time status or greater.
Financial aid eligibility is pretty straightforward. However, situations can arise that can affect your eligibility for FSA. The above list is not all-inclusive, as other situations can arise. If you find yourself unsure of your FSA eligibility, you should contact a financial aid advisor at your school, or visit the Department of Education’s FSA website.