Maximum Credit Hours for Financial Aid


So you’re all packed up for college and you’re excited for the adventure ahead. You can already see yourself walking across the stage, receiving the diploma that you worked so hard to get.

As sweet as the end goal sounds, there are a lot of factors in the middle that have to be thought through thoroughly and managed properly… and frankly not enough people talk about them.

Did you know that your federal financial aid has a 150% maximum time-frame in college?

Some colleges manage this by setting a maximum number of credits your federal aid can pay for. Or, they may say that you can only receive federal aid for 3 years at a 2-year college or 6 years at a 4-year college.

So how do you avoid reaching your max?

Funding is very important, and a lot of people rely on federal funding to provide assistance in paying for their college education. As a student, you must stay informed so you’re not blindsided by a huge bill from the financial aid office. It’s the worst email or piece of mail to ever receive.

Below are some situations you should try and avoid, if at all possible:

  • Course Withdrawals – Dropping a class after the college drop period ends is a Withdrawal. A withdrawal typically shows as a W on a school transcript.
  • Incompletes – If a student gets passing grades for a term but is unable to complete the an aspect of their course, such as a final project or a final examination due to an unusual circumstance verified by the professor, it is reported as an incomplete.
  • Course Repetition – Repeating a course is when a student fails a course that is part of their degree program and has to repeat it for credit.
  • Change of Majors – When changing majors, additional coursework is required to meet to requirements of the newly chosen degree program.
  • Transfer of Credit from Other Schools – Sometimes credits from other schools do not transfer resulting in students having to retake courses. Transferring schools should be researched carefully to ensure that credits transfer properly.

By avoiding these situations, you are avoiding a huge headache. But college is all about learning about yourself and growing into a real adult, which means you will have hiccups here and there. We’re not sharing this information with you so you can be super hard on yourself. Navigating the financial aid world is hard; it helps to be in the know!

If there have been very specific circumstances that caused you to fall within one of the above categories, you can submit an appeal.

Maybe it happened because of unforeseen illness or injury, the death of a friend or relative, or divorce. If you do submit this appeal, you will need supporting documents to backup your claims. But remember: there are financial aid resources that can help you file your appeal to get the help you deserve.