Federal Financial Aid

Two-thirds of all student financial aid comes from federal sources. This page gives a brief overview of the federal grants, loans, and work-study programs that are based on financial need.

A good place to start is the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid on the Web.

Specific Federal Student Aid programs include the following:

  • Federal Pell Grants
    • for qualifying undergraduates pursuing their first bachelor's degree
    • do not have to be repaid
    • $6,345 maximum per award year
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
    • priority is given to Pell Grant recipients (the college determines eligibility)
    • do not have to be repaid
    • $4,000 maximum per year
  • Federal Work-Study
    • for undergraduate and graduate students who qualify
    • operates just like a part-time job
    • no maximum amount
  • Federal Perkins Loans
    • for eligible students at participating colleges; loans are made through the college
    • must be repaid with 5% interest
    • up to $5,500 a year for undergraduates; or a total of up to $27,500
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans
    • for part-time and full-time students who are eligible
    • must be repaid
    • subsidized (deferred interest) and unsubsidized (interest accrues while the student is still in school)
    • $3,500-$12,500 maximum (depends upon grade level)
  • Direct PLUS Loans (Parent Loans)
    • for parents of dependent undergraduate students
    • loan must be repaid with interest
    • maximum is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid the student receives

Student Loan Default Rate

Among a variety of other factors, student loan default rates may be a consideration for students when choosing a college or university for postsecondary studies. The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for calculating the official annual cohort default rate for colleges and universities. Nationally, the aggregate cohort default rate for the most recent fiscal year available is 10.1 percent. Cohort default rates may vary significantly between and among institutions.

The Official Cohort Default Rate Search tool for postsecondary institutions is available at this link.