There are several factors that come into play when determining eligibility for federal student aid. Need is the biggest factor in determining how much student aid you qualify for. You will not be granted a student loan if you are currently in default on another student loan or if you have been convicted of a criminal offense under federal or state law or for possession of drugs.
You must be a high school graduate and either a US citizen or a non-citizen eligible to receive student aid. You must have a valid Social Security Number, register with the Selective Service (males only) and be accepted into an eligible program at a college or university.
You must first complete a FAFSA application and the information you provide on this form determines the amount of money your family is expected to contribute. The formula for this is established by law so that every application is assessed in the same manner. The formula measures your family’s financial strength on the basis of income and assets, such as investments. For example, if you are a dependent student, your parents’ income has to be entered on the application and proof of this comes in the form of the income tax returns for the previous year. This helps to determine how much federal student aid you can receive. If it is below a certain number, you are eligible to receive the full amount of student federal Pell Grant, assuming that you meet the eligibility requirements of the college or university.You can download worksheets, which will help you determine how much student aid you could receive. The amount of the Pell Grant you receive takes the cost of attending the college and then subtracts the amount you or your family is expected to contribute and aid from any other source. The remaining amount is what you will receive in federal student aid. Sometimes, unusual expenses, such as medical needs, are taken into consideration when determining the expected family contribution, but you do have to submit proof of this expense with the application. Normal expenses, such as mortgage payments, are not taken into consideration.