Grade Level and Financial Aid Eligibility

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If the student is a senior in high school, he or she should indicate “Never attended college/1st year” on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The student should check this answer even if he or she has taken a college class while enrolled in high school.

The FAFSA is not limited to the first four years of postsecondary education. Students may file the FAFSA to apply for financial aid for the fifth year of an undergraduate degree program. Some forms of financial aid, however, are subject to limits that may affect the amount of financial aid available to a fifth year student.

  • The cumulative loan limits for the Federal Stafford Loan are $31,000 for dependent undergraduate students and $57,500 for independent undergraduate students. The sum of the first four years annual loan limits are $27,000 and $45,000, respectively. That leaves $4,000 and $12,500 available for the fifth year if the student borrowed to the limit during the first four years.
  • The Federal Pell Grant is subject to a lifetime eligibility limit of the equivalent of 6 years of full-time enrollment.
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit is limited to the first four years of postsecondary education. Students may obtain the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit in the fifth and subsequent years.
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