Help adult students going back to school for a higher education or going to college or career school for the first time.

Answer questions adult learners have about financial aid.

Adult Students

There are some differences between adults returning to school and students going to college straight out of high school, and we've got a simple college preparation checklist for adult students.

As far as federal student aid is concerned, the steps are pretty much the same for adults as for younger students: fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and then keep in touch with the college or career school about receiving the aid. Still, you might find that adults have unique questions about federal student aid.

Is there an age limit for receiving federal student aid?
Can a student get federal student aid if he or she has bad credit?
If a student has student loans that are in default, can he or she receive federal student aid?
Is there financial aid specifically for single parents with children?
If tax information from two years ago does not reflect the student's financial situation today, how should the student fill out the FAFSA® form?


Is there an age limit for receiving federal student aid?

No, there's no age limit. Almost everyone is eligible for some type of federal student aid. The adult student still needs to complete the FAFSA form, and make sure not to miss any deadlines, just like any other student. If the student is interested in an aid estimate before applying, he or she can use FAFSA4caster to get that information.

FAFSA4caster(Result Type: Web Resources and Tools)
Description: Financial aid calculator that gives an early estimate of eligibility for federal aid and helps students understand their options for paying for college.
Resource Type: Web Resources and Tools
Also Available in: Spanish(Result Type: General)
Related: FAFSA on the Web(Result Type: General)

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Can a student get federal student aid if he or she has bad credit?

As long as the student files the FAFSA form and meets applicable federal student aid eligibility criteria, he or she can receive some form of aid. Credit scores are not considered for most of our federal student aid programs.

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If a student has student loans that are in default, can he or she receive federal student aid?

Federal student loans need to be in good standing in order for a borrower to receive additional aid. Unless the outstanding amount is paid in full, it can take up to nine months to get out of default.

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Is there financial aid specifically for single parents with children?

There is no federal student grant or loan designated for single parents, but federal student aid can be used to pay child care costs while the parent is in school. Advise the student to talk to someone in the financial aid office about having dependent care expenses added to the student's cost of attendance so those expenses are taken into account when the financial aid administrator determines the amount of aid the student can receive.

Additional considerations:

  • Some schools have on-campus daycare facilities that their students with children can take advantage of.
  • Some schools offer classes online; a parent might find the flexibility of such a class suits his or her schedule best.
  • Although the U.S. Department of Education does not offer a special aid program for single parents, another entity might. Encourage your students to use free online scholarship searches to find out what might be available.

Department of Labor Scholarship Finder(Result Type: Web Resources and Tools)
Description: Students can use the U.S. Department of Labor's free scholarship search tool to find scholarships along with information on how to apply.
Resource Type: Web Resources and Tools

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If tax information from two years ago does not reflect the student's financial situation today, how should the student fill out the FAFSA® form?

If the student's income is lower than it was two years ago—or will be reduced once the student starts school and needs to work fewer hours—he or she should contact the school's financial aid office as soon as possible. (Ideally, the student should contact the school before filling out the FAFSA form, but that isn't a requirement for the process.) The school might ask for proof of the change in income and may use that information to recalculate the student's eligibility for federal student aid.

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