By now, you may have heard of something called FAFSA—the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the key to getting money for your education based on your financial need. By filing your FAFSA, you’ll be applying for most of the financial aid offered, including loans, grants, work-study, and some scholarships.
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For priority awarding, be sure to fill out a new FAFSA between October 1 and April 15.
What to expect
Most types of aid we award are need-based, and you won’t be awarded more than you need. Here’s how we calculate your need:
Your cost of attendance (COA) – Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Your need
Regardless of whether you receive need-based aid, non-need-based aid, or both, your award will never be more than your cost of attendance. And keep in mind that there’s no guarantee you’ll receive the whole amount you need to cover all of your expenses.
To get most types of financial aid at IU Bloomington, you should:
- Have a high school diploma, GED (Certificate of General Education Development), or HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma)
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Register with the Selective Service (also known as the military draft) if required
- Not be in default on previous federal aid
- Not owe an overpayment on previous federal aid
- Not have borrowed over student loan limits
- Not have had federal aid suspended due to a drug conviction
- Complete the part of the FAFSA which states you’ll use aid for educationally related expenses
- Be admitted to an IU Bloomington degree or teacher’s certificate program OR be taking coursework to prepare for admission to an IU Bloomington graduate program
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress
- Be working at least half time toward a degree (at least six hours per term if you’re an undergrad and at least four hours per term if you’re a grad student)
- Note that you may only receive financial aid for courses which satisfy degree objectives and requirements.
In addition to these requirements, each aid program will have its own eligibility requirements.
Most nondegree students aren’t eligible for financial aid. There are two exceptions:
- If you have a bachelor’s degree and are working to obtain a teacher’s certificate, you are eligible to receive loans at the fifth year undergraduate borrowing level.
- If you have a bachelor’s degree and are taking preparatory courses to gain admission to an IU Bloomington graduate program, you may be eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans and/or a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan for up to 12 months.
Applying early increases your chances
Because some financial aid is given to students who ask for it first, be sure to apply as soon as possible after the application becomes available on October 1.
What’s an Expected Family Contribution (and why does it matter)?
Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the number used to determine whether you’re eligible for certain types of aid, and if so, how much you can be awarded. Your EFC is calculated based on the financial information you provide on your FAFSA. (Your EFC doesn’t tell you what you’ll pay for your education, though. In many cases, families contribute more than the EFC to cover all expenses.)