Along with questions about an income limit for filing the FAFSA there are many questions about income limits for Pell Grants and other subsidized federal aid. Much like with the FAFSA there is no hard and fast rule to use to determine if you
r income is too high for federal grants. The Pell Grant will be determined by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is determined by filing the FAFSA. With an EFC of zero you would qualify for the maximum Pell Grant of $5,550 per year. The Pell Grant goes to zero, using a sliding scale, when your EFC reaches $5,273. Families at higher incomes with many dependent children or many students in college may qualify for at least a partial grant even though the program is designed to help families at the lowest end of the income scale. The only way to truly know whether you qualify is to file a FAFSA and see where your EFC comes out.
In order to qualify for a subsidized Stafford Loan, where the government pays the interest on the loan until such time as the student either stops attending college or graduates, all you need to demonstrate is financial need. Financial need is determined by taking the cost of attending (COA) the school, subtracting the EFC and any “Estimated Financial Assistance,” (EFA) or financial aid you receive from other sources. If after subtracting the EFC and EFA you still have need, you may qualify for a subsidized loan up to the amount of the need and limited by a cap on the amount of the loan which is different for each year of college.
To receive an unsubsidized Stafford Loan, which can still be a good option because the interest rate is fixed, the formula does not require you to demonstrate need. In this case if the cost of attending less the EFA is greater than zero a student may qualify for this type of loan, once again capped by the difference in the COA and the EFA and also capped by a total borrowing limit, in most cases $2,000.
The bottom line in almost all these cases is to file a FAFSA regardless of your income. If you can demonstrate need in some form you may qualify for subsidized assistance. You will not know what you qualify for until you actually file the form. As I have said in many previous posts; no FAFSA, no financial aid.