State Financial Aid Programs

Every state in the union has some form of higher education assistance to supplement federal aid programs.

Learn more about whether you qualify and how to apply.

What are the eligibility requirements for state financial aid?

While nearly every state offers need-based financial assistance, some also provide merit-based aid as an incentive to bright students to stay in state for college. For example, Georgia’s Hope Scholarship offers free tuition, fees and books to Georgia residents who attend a public Georgia university and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Similarly, several states offer assistance – either in the form of tuition waivers or loan forgiveness – to both graduate and undergraduate students entering underrepresented fields such as teaching or social work, or who come from underserved populations. Maine and Massachusetts, for example, both offer full tuition waivers to Native Americans who are state residents.

My state says it requires proof of residency. What does that mean?

The question of residency affects not only your eligibility for state aid but also how much tuition you must pay at public universities.
To become a resident, you must live in state for six to twelve consecutive months or more.

While most states only offer assistance to their own residents – and usually only if they are staying in-state for school – some states offer aid to any qualified student attending one of their public universities. Each state has different requirements, so check with your school’s financial aid office and the state educational aid office.

How do I qualify for state financial aid?

Just like with federal financial aid, to qualify for state financial aid you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education will forward your application to the relevant state student assistance agency.

Bear in mind that while the federal FAFSA deadline is June 30, each state has its own FAFSA submission deadline. Submitting by March 1 will suffice for all states but Michigan, but the best rule to follow is to submit as soon as possible after January.

How do I learn more about state financial aid?

To get complete information about your state’s programs and eligibility requirements, contact your state educational aid office and meet with your school’s financial aid office. A comprehensive list of State Higher Education Agencies is published by the U.S. Department of Education. Remember to check both the state in which you have residency and the state in which you will attend college.

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