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How Many Credit Hours Do You Need for Financial Aid?
Most financial aid comes with a credit hour requirement. If you’re wondering about the maximum credit hours for financial aid that are needed, you’ve come to the right place! While federal financial aid has a uniform set of rules regarding credit hours, financial aid from foundations or other organizations can set their own rules. So, let’s dive in together!
Credit hour requirements for federal financial aid
Your federal financial aid eligibility is partially determined by the number of credit hours you enroll in. Only full-time students are eligible for the maximum Pell Grant sum. Half-time students receive anywhere from half to three quarters of the Pell Grant funds that a full-time student would receive. Students enrolled in 12 credit hours are considered full-time, while students enrolled in 6 credit hours or above are considered half-time.
Also read: When is this year’s FAFSA deadline?
Loans and other aid
A similar rule applies to federal loans such as the Stafford Loan. Full-time students can borrow the maximum amount. Remember, the amount you are eligible to borrow decreases proportionally with the number of credit hours you are enrolled in.
In addition to grants and student loans, federal financial aid also includes work study, which allows students to earn money for their education that won’t count against their financial aid (unlike other types of employment).
Maximum number of eligible credit hours for federal aid
In addition to having a minimum number of hours per semester, federal student aid mandates a maximum total number of hours for which students are eligible for aid. Students may only receive federal aid for up to 180 hours in a program. If you exceed this limit, you are no longer eligible for Pell Grants, federal loans, or other federal assistance. However, this is relatively uncommon; students typically complete undergraduate programs in 120 credit hours.
Understanding private financial aid
Most scholarships will specify whether they require students to enroll full-time or will accept part-time students as well. Sometimes they will list exactly how many credit hours are required for eligibility, but if they only include terms like part-time and full-time, here is how you can interpret them:
- Full-time students are enrolled in 12 credit hours, while half-time students are enrolled in anywhere between 6 and 11 hours.
Part-time can also include students who are enrolled in under 6 credit hours. If you are in this situation, reach out to the organization to confirm your eligibility before you put in the time to apply. To find private scholarships you can check out our scholarship search tool to find the best-fit opportunities for you.
The bottom line
If you are ever confused about the amount of credit hours that qualifies as part time or full time, be sure to ask! 12 credit hours is usually the standard requirement for full time students, but that may change depending on who is providing the scholarship or grant.
Frequently asked questions about how many credit hours you need for financial aid
What is the 150 financial aid rule?
What happens if you run out of financial aid?
How do I ask for more financial aid for college?