The United States Department of Education grants federal aid so that students can pay for tuition and fees, lodging, transportation, books and other supplies. It can also help pay other related expenses, such as a computer and the care of dependents. As an initial step, the student must complete the Federal Financial Aid Application (FAFSA) every year. Some of the federal grants are:
- PELL Grant. This is a federal program that provides financial aid to undergraduate students who are enrolled in a first bachelor’s degree. However, in certain cases, a student enrolled in a graduate teacher certification program may qualify for a Pell Grant. The amount of money received may vary from year to year and depends on the financial need evidenced, among other requirements for student eligibility. Students who participate in the Exchange Program of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) can apply for a Pell Grant. More information available in Pell Grant.
- Complementary federal scholarship for educational opportunity (FSEOG). This program provides additional assistance in the form of scholarships to undergraduate students with exceptional financial needs. For more information, visit FSEOG.
- TEACH Scholarships and for military services. These scholarships have special participation requirements. For more information visit TEACH.
- Federal loans with subsidy and without subsidy. Direct Loan Program subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students in financial need. It is the educational institution responsible for determining the amount that the student can borrow. The loan conditions are somewhat better because the Federal Education Department is the one who pays the interest on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half time. The period to pay the loan is activated automatically 6 months after graduating, to stop studying or to enroll in a lesser academic load than required. On the other hand, unsubsidized loans from the Direct Loan Program are available to undergraduate and graduate students. The student is responsible for the payment of all interest. In this loan, it is not necessary to demonstrate economic necessity. As in the subsidized loan, the educational institution determines the amount the student can borrow based on the cost of the studies and other financial aid received. Students who participate in the Exchange Program of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) can apply for federal loans.
- PLUS loans. These loans are available to graduate students who do not have a negative credit history. The amount of the maximum loan amount is the cost of the studies determined by the educational institution. For more information visit the PLUS loan page.
- Study and work program. This program provides part-time employment to undergraduate and graduate students in financial need. It is administered by educational institutions, so you must go to the Financial Aid Office to find out if you can participate in it.