Federal Financial Aid for Non-Traditional Students

Non-traditional students earning non-traditional credentials from non-traditional schools may think their financial aid options are limited. Think again.

The Basics

Here’s the truth: Federal financial aid is available to those enrolled in eligible programs at accredited schools that participate in federal financial aid programs.

Let’s break that down. An eligible program is one that leads to an academic, professional, or vocational degree or certificate, or other recognized educational credential. You read right — nontraditional students enrolled in trade schools and certificate programs qualify!
And you don’t have to be enrolled full time, or even part time, to be eligible. In fact, to qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, and Federal Perkins Loan programs, you can be enrolled less than half time.

Federal Pell Grant

Pell Grants are available almost exclusively to undergraduate students, but you might also qualify if you’re enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certificate program.

Amounts can change yearly; annual award limits are $6,095 for 2018-2019 and $6,195 for 2019-2020. The amount of your Pell Grant depends on your cost of attendance, expected family contribution, enrollment status, and whether you attend for a full academic year or less.

You may receive only one Pell Grant in an award year, and you may not receive Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time. Pell Grants do not need to be repaid.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need — those with the lowest expected family contribution numbers. Annual award limits are $100 to $4,000.

The amount of your FSEOG depends on when you apply, your financial need, the amount of other aid you’re receiving, your school’s funding level, and the policies of your school’s financial aid office. The FSEOG does not need to be repaid.

Federal Work-Study

Under the Federal Work-Study program, you can work part time to earn money for your education while you’re enrolled in school. Your total award depends on when you apply, your financial need, and your school’s funding level.

Federal Perkins Loan

Perkins Loans are made through participating schools to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students. Undergrads can borrow up to $5,500 a year ($27,050 total – Undergraduate). The amount of your loan depends on when you apply, your financial need, the amount of other aid you receive, and the availability of funds at your school. You have up to 10 years to repay this loan to your school. Students, begin your quest for federal financial aid at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.

Note: Students can no longer receive Perkins Loans.  Perkins Loans ended on Sept. 30, 2017, and final disbursements were permitted through June 30, 2018.

About the Author

Robyn Tellefsen is a frequent contributor to The CollegeBound Network. Learn more about finding a school or career that’s right for you!
To find college and career schools near you, surfhttp://www.CollegeSurfing.com.
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