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Why Didn’t I Receive Financial Aid?
College isn’t cheap, and you’re likely looking for options to help pay for it. In fact, many college students depend on financial aid to help fund their education. However, not all students are eligible to receive aid. Not receiving any aid can make a student wonder “why didn’t I get any financial aid?” There are several possible reasons, so keep reading to learn more!
You didn’t complete the FAFSA
In order to receive federal financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually. The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education and schools to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. If you did not complete the FAFSA for the academic year when you are seeking aid, you won’t receive any.
If you did complete the FAFSA, but didn’t receive financial aid, confirm that you completed the form for the correct year. Contact your school’s financial aid office if the wrong form was completed.
Some schools also accept the CSS Profile, which you do have to pay to complete and send to your desired schools. It’s a lot more in-depth than the FAFSA form, and it considers private school tuition and medical bills.
See also: FAFSA 101 guide
You don’t show financial need
Part of students’ financial aid reward is based on demonstrated need. For federal financial aid, your need is calculated based on the information provided in the FAFSA about you and your parents’ income and assets. Even if your parents don’t complete the FAFSA, there are still ways for you to fill it out yourself.
This information is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If a student’s EFC is high, they may not receive need-based financial aid including:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Federal Work-Study (FWS)
A student’s EFC can change from year to year if their family earns more or less money. Therefore, if you qualified for need-based aid one year, you may not the next year and vice versa.
Non-need-based financial aid
There are types of financial aid that are not need-based, and any student who is eligible to complete the FAFSA can receive them. The types of non-need-based federal financial aid are:
Direct unsubsidized loans can be taken out by undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. However, these loans do accumulate interest while you’re in school, so it might be best to make payments when you can throughout the semester.
This type of loan concerns parents that prefer to take out loans in their name for their child’s education. There’s no borrowing limit for this type of aid, but interest rates tend to be higher.
Loans in this category are usually taken out by graduate and professional students. The limit for the loan depends on your school’s cost of attendance, and you aren’t required to pay it back until six months after graduation.
If you didn’t qualify for need-based federal aid, consider taking out Direct Unsubsidized Loans or private student loans to fill in the gaps for funding your education. You can also apply for outside scholarships and grants, which don’t have to be repaid.
See also: What does my FAFSA EFC number mean?
You’ve borrowed the maximum amount
There is an annual limit on the amount of federal student loans one can borrow. The limit depends on your year in school and whether you are in undergraduate or graduate school.
|Year||Dependent undergraduate students||Independent undergraduate students|
|First year annual limit||$5,500; no more than $3,500 subsidized||$9,500; no more than $3,500 subsidized|
|Second year annual limit||$6,500; no more than $4,500 subsidized||$10,500; no more than $4,500 subsidized|
|Third year and beyond annual limit||$7,500; no more than $5,500 subsidized||$12,500; no more than $5,500 subsidized|
|Total undergraduate loan limit||$31,000; no more than $23,000 subsidized||$57,500; no more than $23,000 subsidized|
Graduate/professional students can borrow up to $20,500 annually. The total amount of federal student loans a graduate/professional student can borrow is $138,500. No more than $65,500 of Direct Subsidized loans can be borrowed.
Students who have already borrowed up to the annual or total limit will not be eligible to receive more federal student loans until they pay some back. Additionally, there is an annual maximum Pell Grant amount. The limit for Pell Grants in 2021-2022 is $6,495.
Your GPA is too low
Students must be in good academic standing to receive federal aid. The required GPA varies from school to school, but typically students need a 2.0 or higher. If your grades fall below the minimum GPA, you could lose eligibility for financial aid.
You aren’t enrolled in enough credit hours to get financial aid
Another academic requirement to receive aid is the number of credit hours a student takes. Students who wish to receive federal financial aid need to be enrolled at least part-time, as defined by their school. If a student fails or withdraws from classes and drops below part-time, they will not be eligible to receive aid.
You have loans in default
This is less likely to be the case for undergraduate students who haven’t entered repayment on their student loans. However, if you have federal student loans that are in default, you are ineligible to receive additional federal aid. Contact your loan servicer to get back into good standing and regain eligibility.
Many students depend on financial aid to help pay for college. If you don’t receive enough or any financial aid, there are other options. Consider applying for a private student loan, looking into college alternatives, or searching for scholarships!
Frequently asked questions about not receiving financial aid
What are my financial aid options for college?
How do I fill out the FAFSA if my parents are divorced?
What does a loan in “default” mean?
What if I’m unhappy with my financial aid offer?