2020–21 Federal Student Aid at a Glance
WHAT is federal student aid?
Federal student aid comes from the federal government— specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It’s money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses (i.e., college, career school, or graduate school expenses).
Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.
There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study funds, and loans. Check with your school’s financial aid office to find out which programs the school participates in.
WHO gets federal student aid?
Some of the most basic eligibility requirements for students are that you must
- demonstrate financial need (for most programs—to learn more about financial need, visit gov/how-calculated);
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
- have a valid Social Security number;
- be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
- be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program;
- be enrolled at least half-time (for most programs); and
- maintain satisfactory academic progress in
college, career school, or graduate school.
See the full list of eligibility requirements at
Completing and submitting the FAFSA® form is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest sources of financial aid to pay for college or career school—federal, state, and school sources. If you need a print-out of the FAFSA® PDF, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
or 334-523-2691 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing 1-800-730-8913).
HOW do you apply for federal student aid?
- To apply for federal student aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form at fafsa.gov. The FAFSA form is available every Oct. 1 for the next school year. If you plan to attend college from July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021, submit a 2020–21 FAFSA form. Fill it out as soon as possible to meet school and state deadlines. Schools and states often use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid, but their deadlines vary.Check with the schools that you’re interested in for their deadlines, and find state and federal FAFSA deadlines at StudentAid.gov/fafsa.
- Students and parents are required to use an FSA ID (an account username and password combination) to sign their FAFSA® form online and to access information about their financial aid on U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity and electronically sign your federal student aid documents. Your FSA ID has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone or allow anyone to create an FSA ID for you. To create an FSA ID, visit gov/fsa- id/create-account/launch.
- After you apply, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. Your SAR contains the information reported on your FAFSA form and usually includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number (not a dollar amount) used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your SAR information to make sure it’s correct. The school(s) you list on your FAFSA® form will get your SAR data
- Contact the schools you might attend. Make sure the financial aid office at each school you’re interested in has all the information needed to determine your eligibility. If you’re eligible, each school’s financial aid office will send you an aid offer showing the amount and types of aid (from all sources) the school will offer you. You can compare the aid offers you received and see which school is the most affordable once financial aid is taken into account.
Annual Award Amount (subject to change)
Federal Pell Grant
For undergraduates with financial need who have not earned bachelor’s or professional degrees. For details and updates, visit
Amounts can change annually. For the 2020–21 award year, the award amount is up to $6,345.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
For undergraduates with exceptional financial need; Federal Pell Grant recipients take priority; funds depend on availability at school. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/fseog.
Up to $4,000.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
For undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, and graduate students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.To receive a TEACH Grant, a student must agree to teach for four years in a high-need field at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income families. If a student doesn’t complete the teaching service requirement, all TEACH Grants the student received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan that must be repaid, with interest. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/teach.
Up to $4,000.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
For undergraduate students who are not Pell-eligible and whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/iraq-afghanistan.
The grant award can be equal to the maximum Federal Pell Grant amount (see above) but cannot exceed your cost of attending school.
For undergraduate and graduate students; part-time jobs can be on campus or off campus. Money is earned while attending school. our total work-study award depends on when you apply, your level or financial need, and your school’s funding level. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/workstudy.
No annual minimum or maximum amounts
Direct Subsidized Loan
For undergraduate students who have financial need; U.S. Department of Education generally pays interest while the student is in school and during certain other periods; a student must be enrolled at least half-time. Interest rates for new Direct Subsidized Loans can change every year. Loans made to undergraduate students during the 2020–21 award year have a fixed interest rate of at 2.75% for the life of the loan. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/sub-unsub.
Up to $5,500 depending on grade level.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
For undergraduate and graduate or professional students; the borrower is responsible for interest during all periods; a student must be enrolled at least half- time; financial need is not required. Interest rates for new Direct Unsubsidized Loans can change every year. Loans made to undergraduate students during the 2020–21 award year have a fixed interest rate of 2.75% for the life of the loan.Loans made to graduate or professional students during the 2020–21 award year have the rate fixed at 4.30% for the life of the loan. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/sub-unsub.
Up to $20,500 (less any subsidized amounts received for same period), depending on grade level and dependency status.
Direct PLUS Loan
For parents of dependent undergraduate students and for graduate or professional students; the borrower is responsible for interest during all periods; a student must be enrolled at least half-time; financial need is not required; the borrower must not have an adverse credit history.Interest rates for new Direct PLUS Loans can change every year. Loans made during the 2020–21 award year have a fixed interest rate of at 5.30% for the life of the loan. For details and updates, visit StudentAid.gov/plus.
Maximum amount is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.
Try StudentAid.gov/scholarships for tips on where to look and for a link to a free online scholarship.
Federal Student Aid | StudentAid.gov