Who Gets Aid

Most people are eligible for financial aid for college or career school. Different types of aid have different rules, called eligibility criteria, to determine who gets the aid.

Who Gets Aid

Here are the eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.

Everyone must meet the basic requirements to qualify for federal student aid; but additional eligibility requirements apply for some people and some situations.

Basic Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid Graphic

For a quick glance at the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid, check out this graphic.


Our general eligibility requirements include that you have financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school, and more. Make sure you’re familiar with our basic eligibility criteria, and ask a college financial aid office if you have any questions about whether you qualify.

Did You Know?
There is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Many factors—such as the size of your family and your year in school—are taken into account.

Students With a Parent Who Was Killed in Iraq or Afghanistan

If your parent died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you might be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funding or for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Generally, if you have a “green card” (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an “eligible noncitizen” and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria. Details of which immigration statuses make you an eligible noncitizen are at our “Non-U.S. Citizens” page.

Students With Criminal Convictions

If you are incarcerated, have a conviction for a drug offense, or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment after completing a period of incarceration for a sexual offense, your eligibility for federal student aid may be limited.

Students With Intellectual Disabilities

Students with intellectual disabilities may receive funding from the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs in certain circumstances.

Staying Eligible

Once you’re in college or career school, make sure you stay eligible for federal student aid by paying attention to a few things, including keeping on track toward graduation. And remember to fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form every year.

Regaining Eligibility

You might lose federal student aid eligibility in a number of ways. Some of the most common are that you

Learn about other ways you might lose eligibility, and see how to get your eligibility back.