Federal Financial Aid

The federal government requires students to complete the U.S. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a basic application for its financial aid programs. You can get one from a high school or college for the appropriate year (usually available in November), or you can visit studentaid.ed.gov (opens new window) for general student aid information and the online FAFSA. It will be processed free of charge.

Your local high school counselor can help determine the programs you may be eligible for and how to apply.

Federal Programs

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

These grants are provided to a limited number of undergraduate students with financial need. Preference is given to students with exceptional financial need. FSEOGs are awarded by colleges.

Federal Pell Grant

Financial assistance awarded by the federal government on the basis of need. The Student Aid Report (SAR) informs students of their Pell Grant eligibility. The grant may be used toward tuition, room and board, books, or other educational costs and requires no repayment.

Federal Perkins Loan

Loans funded by the federal government and awarded by the institution. The loans feature low interest rates and are repayable over an extended period of time.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program

Provides both Stafford Loans for Students and PLUS Loans for parents. Eligible students and parents borrow directly from the federal government at participating schools. Direct Loans also include Direct Consolidation Loans. Repayment of these loans is made to the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program

Provides both Stafford Loans for students and PLUS Loans for parents through participating private lenders. FFEL also provides for Federal Consolidation Loans. Repayment of these loans is made to the bank or other private lender that made the loan.

Subsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loans—are awarded on the basis of financial need. Recipients will not be charged interest until they begin repayment.

Unsubsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loans—are not awarded on the basis of need. Interest accrues from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full.

PLUS Loans (for parents)—provide low interest loans to credit-approved parents of eligible undergraduate students. Repayment typically must begin 60 days after loan is fully disbursed.

Consolidation Loans—allow students or parents the opportunity to combine several types of federal loans into a single loan with one monthly payment.

Federal Work-Study

A government-supported financial aid program coordinated through financial aid offices in which an eligible student (based on need) may work part-time while attending class, generally in career-related jobs.

For more information about federal financial aid programs and your rights and responsibilities under these programs, read Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid (opens new window). You can also request your free paper copy by contacting the U.S. Department of Education (opens new window) at 1-800-4-FED-AID, or writing to:

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044-0084

ACT provides links to other websites for informational purposes only. ACT is not responsible for the content in other sites, and links from the ACT website to other sites are not intended to imply endorsement of them by ACT.

The FAFSA is used for all federal aid and most state-sponsored programs.

The Student Aid Report (SAR) provides information from your FAFSA and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) determines your eligibility for federal student aid.