WHAT is federal student aid?

Federal student aid comes from the federal government— specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. It is money that helps a student pay for higher education expenses (i.e., college, career school, or graduate school expenses). Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study, and loans.

WHO gets federal student aid?

Every student who meets certain eligibility requirements can get some type of federal student aid, regardless of age or family income. Some of the most basic eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • demonstrate financial need (for most programs—to learn more, visit;
  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
  • have a valid Social Security number;
  • register (if you have not already) with Selective Service, if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school; and
  • show you are qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
    • having a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a state recognized equivalent; or
    • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law; or
    • enrolling in an eligible career pathways program.

Find more details about eligibility criteria at

HOW do you apply for federal student aid?

  1. Create an FSA ID. Students, parents, and borrowers should create an FSA ID to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) online and to access U.S. Department of Education websites. To create an FSA ID, visit
  2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) at This is a standard form that determines student financial aid eligibility.
  3. Add ICoHS to your FAFSA
      Federal School Code: 042655
  4.  Review your Student Aid Report. After you apply, you will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. Your SAR contains the information reported on your FAFSA and usually includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number (not a dollar amount) used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your SAR information to make sure it is correct.

*The information above has been gathered from the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education.