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Being a responsible student (and responsible financial aid recipient)

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When you get help to pay for college, it is time to celebrate.

After all, that money – whether it's loans, grants, scholarships, or work-study programs – makes it possible for you to pursue your college and career dreams.

Financial aid, though, is not just free money. For those students who accept financial aid, it's important to remember that there are obligations.

Of course, financial aid that comes in the form of loans has to be repaid and work-study requires students to work. But even grants and scholarships may have obligations to be met by the student. While grants and scholarships don't have to be repaid, they often have requirements the student must meet.

  • Enrollment – Federal financial aid and many other state programs or private scholarship programs, require that students be enrolled at least half-time in an approved program.
  • Grades – Students receiving federal financial aid are required to make satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, which includes maintaining a specific grade point average, passing a majority of your course work, and, in some cases, completing the program of study within 150 percent of the published program length.
  • Counseling – Some federal and state financial aid programs require students to receive counseling or participate in an online counseling program to make sure they understand their obligations by accepting the financial aid.
  • Use of funds – Students are required to use the financial aid as it is intended. In the case of federal financial aid, students may only use it on college-related expenses.

Beyond the specific requirements, students who accept federal or state financial aid have an obligation to do their best to succeed in postsecondary education. The success of students is in the best interest of society and, specifically, taxpayers who make federal financial aid programs possible.