Attention: Money 101 will no longer be available after May 31, 2021. After that time the Enrich financial literacy tool will be available at moving forward.

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Paying For College - Head Matters


  8. Award Notifications

Working with the financial aid office

Sometimes the financial aid applications do not reflect an accurate picture of the student’s financial situation.  Students are required to use tax information from the year prior to enrollment.  If the student experiences an unexpected occurrence between the prior year and enrollment such as loss of employment, medical debt, or other financial hardship, it is important to work with the financial aid office so the student may receive the maximum amount of funding that he or she is eligible for.

If you feel that your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) does not accurately reflect your circumstances, your financial award may not be enough to help you meet the cost of paying for college. You can contact your financial aid office and talk to them about your financial situation and your concerns. They’re there to help you. But remember that your financial aid office personnel are professionals who are there to help all the students at their school. You should not try to bargain with them to get more aid… they won’t be able to give you more funding without a legitimate change or inaccuracy in your financial situation and significant review.

All schools are different and may require the student to fill out a form, show documentation, or write a letter explaining the situation.  Be prepared to prove your situation. For more information, review our information on financial aid appeals.

Financial Aid Limits

There are limits to how much federal financial aid you will be eligible to receive. Generally, these limits are put in place to encourage students to complete their program of study quickly and with as little debt as possible.
  • Pell Grant lifetime eligibility limits - You are eligible to receive 600% of your annual financial aid eligibility. Each full year that you receive the maximum Pell Grant award that you are eligible for represents 100% (each semester represents 50%). Therefore, if you received your full Pell award for six consecutive years, you would be at the maximum of 600%.  
  • Subsidized loan eligibility - Eligibility for subsidized loans is limited to 150% of program length (3 years for 2-year program/6 years for 4-year program). So, if you are working on bachelors degree for more than 6 years (12 semesters, can be non-consecutive), you will no longer be eligible for subsidized loans. However, you will still be eligible for unsubsidized loans
  • Stafford loans carry both annual and lifetime borrowing limits.

As Federal financial aid regulations change, your eligibility for aid may be impacted. If you think you are getting close to any financial aid limits, check with your financial aid office and plan ahead.  

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