By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
To remain eligible for financial aid each year that you are enrolled in college, you must meet certain criteria each semester. Just because you are eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA) during your first semester, that doesn’t automatically mean that you will continue to be eligible in subsequent semesters.
Here are the three criteria you must meet every semester and/or year to remain eligible for FSA:
- Basic FSA Eligibility — These criteria include showing your financial need, establishing your U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status, registering for the Selective Service (as of now, only males are required to register), and being enrolled as a part-time student to qualify for funds from the Direct Loan Program. The exceptions to this list are rare, but you should discuss your situation with your university if you feel you cannot meet one of these criteria.
- Maintenance of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) — Every school has their own criteria for meeting SAP, so make sure you fully understand the policies at your school. Basically, SAP demonstrates that you attend college for educational purposes. You must maintain a certain GPA, you must stay below the maximum quantity of classes taken for your academic standing, and you must move at a certain pace toward graduation. The qualifying numbers for SAP will vary, depending on the school of your choice.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form — You must fill out a FAFSA form before every year to receive FSA. Every student will have to fill out a FAFSA before starting school for the first time, but FAFSAs must be filled out each year if you want to receive FSA.
The first time filling out the FAFSA is always the most stressful. If your financial situation stays similar from year to year, filling out the FAFSA for subsequent years becomes quicker and easier. There is no exception to this criterion, so please remember to fill out a FAFSA before the deadline each year.
By creating basic eligibility requirements, instituting SAP policies and making you fill out a FAFSA every year, the government has steps in place to prevent FSA fraud. As long as you fully understand your responsibilities as an FSA borrower, you should have no problem gaining and maintaining FSA eligibility!