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Lost Financial Aid Eligibility? Here’s What to Do

Many students rely on financial aid and scholarships to pay for school. However, student aid isn’t guaranteed from year-to-year and students must maintain their eligibility for financial aid while receiving it. 

If you lost your financial aid, you may be wondering what to do next. Continue reading to learn what to do if you lose financial aid eligibility!

How federal financial aid eligibility works

If you receive financial aid from the United States Department of Education you will need to remain eligible for as long as you receive the aid. Some examples of federal financial aid include Pell Grants, Direct student loans, and federal work-study. 

In order to receive federal financial aid, students must meet a number of eligibility requirements including: 

  • Being a United States citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • Having a Social Security number
  • Filling out the FAFSA annually in order to keep your eligibility up-to-date. 
  • Enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Qualifying to have a college or career school education (have either a high school diploma or GED certificate)
  • Being in good standing for other government loans
  • Maintaining satisfactory academic progress by earning adequate grades and taking enough credits

If you fail to maintain these eligibility standards, then you may be in danger of losing your federal student aid. 

Eligibility for other financial aid

There are other forms of student aid such as scholarships, grants, or private student loans. Scholarships and grants will have their own eligibility requirements depending on the organization that funds them. For example, some scholarships may require students to maintain a specific GPA in order to continue to receive the scholarship. 

Be sure to read all the eligibility rules that you must follow to receive the aid! 

Private loans have eligibility requirements regarding credit score and income. The exact numbers vary based on the lender. If you don’t meet these requirements, you can use a co-signer who does. This will increase your chances of receiving private student loans.

See also: How to find a co-signer

Why you may lose student aid eligibility

There are a number of reasons why a student may lose their eligibility for student aid and scholarships. Some of the most common reasons include:

Not submitting the FAFSA

The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an important financial aid application for students to receive federal financial aid. If you do not submit your FAFSA by the deadline, you are in danger of missing out on financial aid.

Failure to meet satisfactory academic progress

One of the most common reasons that students lose financial aid eligibility is due to academic performance. This can range from your grades slipping to not taking enough course credits. 

Changes to your family’s financial situation

Another common reason why students may lose financial aid is due to changes in their family’s financial situation. For instance, if your family makes  more money you may have your financial aid reduced or even lost. 

You don’t meet basic eligibility requirements

Students who do not meet the federal government eligibility requirements may also be at risk of losing their financial aid. These requirements include citizenship, enrollment status, 

Your financial aid is not renewable

Scholarships or grants could be lost if they are not renewable for another year or semester. This is one of the big reasons why renewable scholarships are so valuable for students. When in doubt, check with the scholarship organization to see whether your award can be renewed for additional years or if you can reapply for next year.

See also: FAFSA 101 guide

How to regain eligibility

Depending on the school you attend and the reason you lost your financial aid, there are different ways to get it back. It could be as simple as filing or correcting your FAFSA. However, if you find yourself in this situation,it’s important to act immediately.

The first thing you should do is go to your school’s financial aid office. Ask why you lost your student aid and how you can remedy the issue. The people there will be able to adjust your eligibility or give you guidance.

Another option is to file a financial aid suspension appeal with the financial aid office. This process will differ based on the school. Often, it includes a written letter. Be sure to describe any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your eligibility. There may be other steps to the appeal depending on why you lost your student aid. If your grades were the problem, you may have to attend tutoring. Or you didn’t take enough credits, you may have to make an action plan to get back on track. To learn how to file an appeal to regain your financial aid after an academic suspension, check out our guide to writing financial aid appeal letters.

If you lost your student aid because you defaulted on another loan, you’ll have to get out of default before receiving more aid.

Financial Aid SAP Warning

Some colleges may give students a financial aid SAP warning. This will vary from college to college, but the goal of a SAP warning is to give the student time to get their grades back on track. The University of Central Florida is an institution that offers this option to students and allows them to continue to receive federal financial aid for the semester.

If you receive a SAP warning I recommend that you meet with your academic advisor to put together a plan that allows you to improve your grades or take the requisite amount of credits so that you will be in good standing by the end of your warning semester.

How to pay for college without financial aid

Fortunately, there are other options to fill in the gaps of financial aid if you have lost your financial aid.

Scholarships and Grants

Apply for scholarships or grants that fit your interests or course of study. Scholarships and grants are useful because they usually don’t need to be repaid. Exhaust all of your options that don’t put you in debt before turning to loans.

Private Student Loans

If your federal student aid and scholarships don’t cover your education expenses, look into private student loans. You’ll likely need a co-signer to be eligible. 

Some students may also be eligible for an Income-Share Agreement where you agree to pay back a certain percentage of your income in return for financial aid to pay for college.


Consider taking on a part-time job to pay for living expenses like groceries or utilities. Even if you are not eligible for federal work study, you can still find a job to help fill the financial gap.

Move home to save money

If it is feasible, moving home can help you save significantly on room and board. 

Consider a more affordable option

Another option is to transfer to a more affordable college or university. For many students, a community college, online option, or public university option will offer a more affordable price point. Of course, it is important to remember that there are a number of considerations when transferring including how many of your credits will transfer and whether the college you are transferring to will help you meet your academic goals.

Summing it up

If you’ve lost your financial aid, your first step should be to attempt to regain it. Speak with your financial aid office immediately for next steps.This might be in the form of an SAP appeal letter, ensuring you are in good standing with the government, or ensuring that your records are all straight with the school. You might have to get your grades up or come up with a plan to improve them.

Regardless of what you do, it may be the case that your aid is suspended for a semester at minimum. To fill in your financial need gap during this time, you can consider taking out private loans. But remember to weigh your decisions carefully and consider how much debt might be too much

Related: Top reasons to take a break from college

Frequently asked questions about lost financial aid eligibility

How do I reinstate my financial aid?

The answer to this question depends on what caused your aid to be suspended. You may have to improve your grades or regain good standing with the federal government. You might also be able to reinstate your aid through an SAP appeal letter. The best way to get to the bottom of your question is to contact the office that notified you of your suspension.

Do I have to repay my financial aid if my grades drop?

If your grades drop, you might lose eligibility for financial aid in future semesters. However, under typical circumstances, you will not have to repay the grants that you already received. You will, however, still have to pay back any loans that you may have taken out. So, if your grades drop and you are expelled from college, keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay back all of your loans.   

Is financial aid suspension permanent?

Most financial aid suspensions are not permanent. For example, under enrollment, low grades, or other unpaid debts do not cause permanent financial aid suspension.