The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, also known as the “FSEOG grant,” is one of the financial aid awards that the government uses to help students with limited resources to pay for college.
The FSEOG offers between $100 and $4,000 to undergraduate students who demonstrate “exceptional financial need.” While the FSEOG may not cover your full cost of attendance, it could make the burden of tuition costs a little lighter.
Here’s a rundown of the program and how you can benefit:
The U.S. Department of Education funds the FSEOG program, but it’s up to the individual schools to decide whether to participate in the program and administer the awards.
Check with your college to find out whether it offers FSEOG grants. If it does, you could receive up to $4,000 to put toward your education.
Like most grants, you don’t need to pay back an FSEOG award unless you leave school or lose your financial aid eligibility for another reason.
As noted, FSEOG awards go to students who show exceptional financial need. The government determines this need based on the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
So in order to qualify for an FSEOG grant, you must submit the FAFSA. On this form, you and your parents will include information about your income, assets and other financial data.
The government then uses its formula to determine your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), or the amount it thinks your family can afford to contribute to your education. (Note that the EFC will soon be renamed the “Student Aid Index” or “SAI”.)
Your financial need is the difference between your school’s cost of attendance and your EFC. If you have significant financial need, you could qualify for an FSEOG grant, assuming your school awards them.
Not only do you need to submit the FAFSA to qualify for an FSEOG award, but you also may need to submit the FAFSA early.
FSEOG funding is limited, and schools typically hand out these grants on a first-come, first-served basis. If you wait too long to submit your FAFSA, you could miss out on an FSEOG grant, even if you qualify.
The FAFSA opens every year on Oct. 1, so try to submit it as close to that date as you can. And check with your school to see if it imposes any other deadlines on financial aid.
If you do apply too late to get an FSEOG, you may still be able to get a Pell Grant, which is also given to students with financial need but is available for any eligible student. Pell Grant amounts change from year to year — for the 2021-2022 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,495.
Since the FSEOG is a federal grant, you must meet basic eligibility requirements to qualify for one, in addition to showing financial need. These include:
- Being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Being enrolled or accepted into an eligible degree or certificate program and attending at least half time
- Maintaining satisfactory academic progress in school
- Not being in default on a federal student loan
While you normally don’t need to repay grant money, there are a few circumstances where you could be required to return the funds. These could include:
- Withdrawing early from your program or school
- Dropping below half-time enrollment
- Receiving outside scholarships or grants that reduce your need for federal grants
Note that if you lose financial aid eligibility, you can take these steps to get it back.
At the same time, make sure to submit your FAFSA on an annual basis in order to renew your eligibility and continue receiving federal financial aid.
The FSEOG isn’t the only federal grant that can help you pay for school. As mentioned above, the Department of Education offers Pell Grants to students with financial need. Likewise, TEACH grants may be available to students who plan to pursue a career in teaching.
Your school might also offer other grants and scholarships. Check with your college to find out what it has available and whether you need to submit a separate application.
Plus, spend some time searching for scholarship awards from external organizations. You can win scholarships for a number of reasons, including academic merit, community service and more.
Unfortunately, some schools practice scholarship displacement, meaning your eligibility for aid could be negatively impacted if you’re receiving external financial help.
However, this shouldn’t deter you from applying for scholarships, as your efforts could still pay off. The more financial aid you can get in the form of grants and scholarships, the less you’ll have to borrow in student loans.