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Each school has it's own definition of “satisfactory academic progress.” Check with your prospective school’s financial aid department to find out more.

Navigate your prospective schools’ financial aid requirements and find out if you're eligible for funds.

Every student wants money for college, but unfortunately, not every student is qualified to receive money from federal or state programs. While there are a few tiny differences between schools, the vast majority of colleges have the same requirements. It’s important for you as a senior to understand and fulfill these requirements before you proceed to applying for financial aid and filling out your FAFSA.

General Financial Aid Requirements

To give you an idea of what kind of requirements are out there, let’s take a look at a an example from the University of California – San Diego.

UC San Diego requires you to:

  • Be enrolled and admitted to a degree program at UCSD.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be in good standing with satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not be in default on federal education loans, or owe any federal grant money to any institution.
  • Register with the Selective Service, if you are male.
  • Be enrolled in the required number of units for each type of aid received.

What is the Selective Service?

The Selective Service item jumps out at most students. If you are like most, you understand why you need to have a Social Security number, and why you must be admitted, but why do you have to enroll in the Selective Service?

The Selective Service is the government organization that maintains info on men eligible to be drafted into the military. This could seem outdated, but all males over the age of 18 are required to register with the Selective Service, so this requirement really has little to do with financial aid and more to do with making sure U.S. laws are upheld. Oftentimes you also cannot vote, apply for a government job, or get a driver’s license without registering for the Selective Service.

Maintaining Eligibility for Financial Aid

Federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs usually come with their own conditions and stipulations. Colleges programs are no different. To keep your financial aid, you need to show that you’re progressing toward a degree and not just treading water.

Let’s look at the University of Missouri’s eligibility requirements for an example.

Undergraduate students must show satisfactory academic progress defined by these criteria:

  • Completion of and passing grades in 75 percent of all credit hours of graded coursework attempted.
  • Fewer than 180 total credit hours of coursework attempted.
  • Minimum cumulative MU grade point average:
    • 1.67 for fewer than 60 credit hours attempted.
    • 2.0 for 60 or more credit hours attempted.
  • Enrollment in an academic program that leads to a degree.

These conditions vary from school to school but all institutions require a certain amount of progress and a certain grade point average for continued financial aid. While this may be far from your mind right now, it’s something to keep in mind for when you sign your name next to a big financial aid package.

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