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Where's the Money? Paying for School: Federal Grants

How do I get a Federal Grant?

Almost all federal grants are awarded to students with financial need*.  If you are interested in federal grants, or in any federal student aid, you have to start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA®) form. You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. Once you’ve done that, you’ll work with your college or career school to find out how much you can get and when you’ll get it.

*The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend. 

Do I have to repay a Federal Grant?

Here are some examples of why you might have to repay all or part of a federal grant:

How do I repay a grant overpayment?

Your school will notify you if you must repay part of the grant. From that point, you will have 45 days to either pay that portion of the grant back in full or enter into a satisfactory repayment arrangement. If you enter into a satisfactory repayment arrangement, the school may assign the debt to ED for collection or may keep the debt and allow you to make payments directly to them.

If you do not carry out one of these options, you will lose your eligibility for further federal student aid.

How Do I Apply?

How do I apply?

You should start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You will have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. Submit your FAFSA as early as possible. 

How Do I Stay Eligible?

Once you’ve filled out your FAFSA and received your grant , loan, or work-study funds to help you pay for college or career school, make sure you stay eligible throughout the academic year—and in subsequent years.

Continue to Meet Basic Eligibility Criteria

Remember, the basic eligibility criteria that allow you to get federal student aid continue to apply throughout the time you’re receiving aid—not just when you first fill out the FAFSA form and are awarded aid. 

Make Satisfactory Academic Progress 

You need to make satisfactory academic progress in order to continue receiving federal student aid. In other words, you have to make good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to your school.

Each school has a satisfactory academic progress policy for financial aid purposes; to see your school’s, you can check your school’s website or ask someone at the Financial Aid Office. Your school’s policy will tell you

  • what grade-point average (or equivalent standard) you need to maintain;
  • how quickly you need to be moving toward graduation (for instance, how many credits you should have successfully completed by the end of each year);
  • how an incomplete class, withdrawal, repeated class, change of major, or transfer of credits from another school affects your satisfactory academic progress;
  • how often your school will evaluate your progress;
  • what will happen if you fail to make satisfactory academic progress when your school evaluates you;
  • whether you are allowed to appeal your school’s decision that you haven’t made satisfactory academic progress (reasons for appeal usually include the death of a member of your family, your illness or injury, or other special circumstances); and
  • how you can regain eligibility for federal student aid.

Fill Out the FAFSA Form Each Year

When you fill out the FAFSA form, you are applying for aid for a specific year. In order to receive aid the next year, you’ll need to submit that next year’s FAFSA form. The FASA website makes it easy for you by allowing you to submit a Renewal FAFSA form that remembers certain information you reported the year before and places it in your new FAFSA form.

What if My Parent Died in Iraq or Afghanistan?

It depends. If your parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funds if, at the time of your parent’s or guardian’s death, you were

  • less than 24 years of age or
  • enrolled in college or career school at least part-time.

If you meet these requirements and were previously eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant, your eligibility will be recalculated as if your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)  were zero. Payments are adjusted if you are enrolled less than full-time.

If you meet those requirements but aren’t eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant due to your EFC being too high, you might be able to get an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. 

Ukiah Campus: 707.468.3053 | Coast Center: 707.961.2200 | Lake Center: 707.263.4944 | North County Center: 707.459.6224
Email: Library Webmaster | Mendocino Community College

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