Yes, a college-bound child can receive both a scholarship and FAFSA®, but the scholarship may affect the total amount of money the child receives from FAFSA®. However, this is not to say that a student should forgo the search for scholarships, as they lower the amount borrowed for their education. Schools use money from a scholarship to offset the total amount taken out on a loan. It is far better to have less money to repay than to borrow more than is necessary.
Calculating the Amount of Financial Aid Needed for School
Once a student decides on their classes for the semester, it’s time to total up the cost of the credit hours. The school does this on behalf of the student and determines the total cost of attendance for that semester. Once the final amount has been determined, the school starts working through FAFSA® eligibility with the student. This involves going through various personal and financial statuses to come up with a final amount that the student has to apply for in order to attend.
Meeting Basic Eligibility Criteria for Federal Student Financial Aid
A student needs to meet basic eligibility criteria to get a federal student loan prior to finalizing an amount that is borrowed after a scholarship is factored in. These criteria include:
- Showing financial need for the program
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
- Have a valid Social Security number
- If male, be registered with the Selective Service
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a student in an eligible certificate or degree program
- Maintain grade standards while in school
- Certify that the student is not in default on a federal student loan, does not owe on a federal student grant, and the federal student loan is used only for educational purposes
- Show that the student is eligible for a college or career school education by having a high school diploma, GED, or enrolling in a career pathway program and meeting an “ability to benefit” alternative
Understanding Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
Financial aid staff uses household income to determine how much money the family could contribute to the cost of education (CoE). This is used to calculate how much money is needed for financial aid, known as the expected family contribution, even if the family does not contribute anything to the CoE.
Students sometimes find that their financial aid won’t cover the cost of education due to a family income that is too high. Yet the family is not under an obligation to contribute even though their income is considered in determining the total financial aid needed. In this instance, a scholarship is still beneficial in that it lowers the amount of the loan, but the student may have to find other ways to cover the shortfall.
Students should apply for scholarships no matter how much financial aid they wind up receiving. It is far better to pay back a lower loan amount than covering the entire cost of education through loans.