Grade Level and Degree Objective on the FAFSA

on February 10, 2017

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) asks questions about the student’s grade level and degree objective that can affect eligibility for need-based financial aid.


Enrollment as a Regular Student Required for Financial Aid


A student must be accepted for enrollment or enrolled in college as a regular student to qualify for federal student aid. A regular student is a student who is pursuing a degree or certificate from an eligible program.


A student who is enrolled in a degree or certificate program and takes remedial coursework within the program is eligible for federal student aid. At most, one year’s worth of remedial classes count toward eligibility for federal student aid funds. However, a student who takes remedial coursework prior to, or as a condition of, enrollment in a regular program is not eligible for federal student aid.


A student can receive Federal Stafford loans and the student’s parent can borrow Federal PLUS loans for up to one year of preparatory coursework necessary for enrollment in an eligible program.


Impact of Dual Enrollment Programs

Generally, students who will be enrolled in elementary or secondary school are not eligible for federal student aid, even if they are taking college classes that count as credit toward a college degree or certificate.


Students who are enrolled in dual enrollment programs, where they are taking college classes while still in high school, are not eligible for federal student aid, except at a limited number of experimental sites. Students must have graduated from high school or received a G.E.D. to qualify for financial aid for college.


High school seniors should indicate a grade level of “Never attended college/1st year” even if they have taken college classes while enrolled in high school.


Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) classes and exams also are not eligible for federal student aid, even though they can count toward college credit.


Impact of Degree Objective


In response to the question about the applicant’s degree or certificate objective, the student should choose his or her most immediate degree objective, even if he or she intendeds to seek a more advanced degree later.


For example, if the student will be enrolling at a community college to pursue an associate’s degree, he or she should select one of the “Associate Degree” options, even if he or she is planning on transferring to a four-year college.


If you are unsure about the type of degree or certificate you are pursuing, select “1st Bachelor’s Degree” on the form.

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