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Student Loans in 2024: requirements, elegibility and how can I apply?

Can you apply for the Student Loan? We tell you the requirements, eligibility and who can apply for student loan forgiveness in 2024.

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As higher education continues to be a significant investment, understanding the landscape of American student loans is more important than ever. In 2024, students and families navigating the financial aid process will find that while some aspects remain consistent, there are updates they should be aware of.

What is FAFSA?

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is generally a means used to determine students financial eligibility for support. For the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the most recent data available, approximately 85% of first-time, full-time undergraduate students received financial aid.

To qualify for aid, such as grants, scholarships and student loans, you usually need to submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA is what college financial aid offices and other entities use to calculate your financial need and determine your eligibility for financial aid programs.

By submitting the FAFSA, you could qualify for one or more of the following types of aid:

  • Federal grants: Low-income students may be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which don’t have to be repaid.
  • Federal student loans: Federal student loans tend to have lower rates and more borrower protections than other loan types and you can use them to pay for both undergraduate and graduate programs. You must fill out the FAFSA to apply for federal student loans.
  • State grants or scholarships: Some states have robust financial aid programs, offering grants and scholarships to students based on their financial need and merit.
  • Institutional grants or scholarships: Colleges and universities often operate their financial aid programs, and those programs may be awarded based on student financial need as determined by the FAFSA.
  • Private grants or scholarships: Nonprofit organizations and private companies may offer scholarships or grants to students, and they often require the student to submit their FAFSA information during the application process.

Requirements

To apply for federal student loans in the United States, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA requires information about the student’s financial situation, including income, assets, and dependency status. Additionally, students must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program and maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Eligibility

Eligibility for federal student loans hinges on several factors:

  • Educational Qualification: Students must qualify for college by earning a high school diploma, passing the GED test, or completing a homeschool curriculum approved by their state.
  • Citizenship: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. Although, there are some exceptions; if you’re a resident of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of Palau, you don’t need to have a Social Security Number.

Students who are permanent residents with a valid green card or T-visa may also be eligible.

  • Enrollment: Students must be accepted and enrolled at least half-time in an accredited institution.

How to apply

How do you apply for FAFSA? It’s easier than you may think. According to the Federal Student Aid Office, most first-time applicants can complete the FAFSA in under an hour. You can save time by gathering the following information and documents before starting the application:

  • Your Social Security number or Alien Registration number
  • Your federal income tax returns, W-2 forms and any other records of money earned (you may be able to get that information online with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, but it’s a good idea to collect other documentation just in case you need to verify any details.).
  • Bank statements
  • Investment account statements
  • A Federal Student Aid ID (if you don’t have one, you can create an account online at the FAFSA website)
  • A list of schools you’d like to attend and their codes.

If you’re a dependent student —and most undergraduate students are, regardless of their living situation— you’ll need to submit the information above on behalf of your parents. The application process begins with completing the FAFSA form online. The U.S. Department of Education has streamlined the FAFSA process to address any issues with IRS data integration, ensuring that all institutions can package financial aid offers efficiently. After submission, students can check their FAFSA application status online or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

FAFSA deadlines

Federal deadlines to submit the FAFSA are:

  • June 30, 2025, for school year 2024-25
  • June 30, 2024, for school year 2023-24

Many states use the FAFSA for their financial aid programs. You can also check to see different state deadlines here..

Tips for applying

  • Meet Deadlines: Submit your FAFSA as early as possible to maximize your aid eligibility.
  • Review Credit: For certain loans like PLUS loans, a credit check may be required.
  • Explore Options: Beyond federal loans, consider scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.

Federal student loans offer a pathway to education for many Americans. By understanding the requirements and eligibility criteria and following the application process carefully, students can secure the necessary funding to pursue their academic goals.

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