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What Are the Typical Financial Aid Requirements?

By M. Walker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Financial aid requirements will vary depending on the type of academic institution and the type of aid received, whether it’s merit-based, need-based or offered under special conditions. Generally, there are several financial aid requirements that must be met during the application process, and they can be demonstrated using tax returns, family income information and specific forms, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the United States. In addition to these requirements, students receiving grants, loans or other scholarships will need to maintain certain standards while attending school. These range from upholding a certain grade point average (GPA) or course load to simply maintaining citizenship or non-citizen eligibility.

The main financial aid requirements involved in applying for either public aid or private aid include governmental forms, tax returns and student and parent financial information. Forms such as the FAFSA calculate an expected family contribution (EFC) that estimates the amount of tuition that a family can afford to pay. Tax returns and other financial information about things such as savings accounts, investments or assets can provide supplemental information to schools to give a more accurate estimate of a family’s financial situation. These allow schools to determine how much need-based aid to allocate to the student, and although government aid remains relatively consistent, private aid can vary greatly, depending on the degree program and institution.

Merit-based aid and other scholarship programs will have different financial aid requirements, many of which are specific to the scholarship. For example, some athletic scholarships might require students to remain on an athletic team for the duration of their education, and academic scholarships might require students to maintain a specific GPA to continue receiving funds. By contrast, other scholarships are available to students who meet specific criteria, such as a disadvantaged status, a particular religion or an intended course of study. Typically, these scholarships involve an application process that will require different components. Certain grants frequently involve contests for essay writing, presentations or other skills, and these also have many requirements.

Most students will still need to meet financial aid requirements while in school to continue qualifying for aid. Those receiving need-based aid will need to submit financial information and forms each year to qualify. Many programs — even graduate and professional degree programs — still require parental information if students want to be eligible for need-based grants and subsidized school loans. Most schools also require students to maintain citizenship or to maintain eligibility if the student is not a citizen. Lastly, students frequently need to be enrolled full-time or at least half-time to remain eligible for financial aid, depending on the institution.

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