Did You Lose Your Financial Aid? What Are Your Options?

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 5/19/20

Losing financial aid can make you feel like you have no options.

If you lose financial aid at one school, can you get it at another? Is it better to reapply at the same school? Should you take time off and raise money?

These questions can be stressful; fortunately, there is a better process for getting financial aid.

Criteria for Financial Aid

College students often need access to financial aid to help them pay for their education. Combining sources of funding from college savings accounts, working a part-time job, accepting grants and scholarships, and taking out student loans helps students like you cover education costs.

However, even generous forms of financial aid require you meet specific criteria. You must attend enough course hours or take enough credits, maintain satisfactory academic progress, meet certain financial eligibility requirements from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), keep reapplying with the FAFSA, and other requirements.

If you fail to make good grades, stay enrolled at least half time, keep up with the requirements from your major, or other details, then you will lose your financial aid. Transferring to another school can cause you to lose financial aid, too. 

Reasons for Losing Financial Aid

Losing financial aid is stressful, and many students experience this problem. Often, students fail to meet the Department of Education’s (DOE) basic eligibility requirements, the school’s requirements, or the state’s requirements, and they do not realize they no longer qualify.

Common causes for losing your financial aid include: 

  • You or your parents made too much money during the year.
  • The grant or scholarship was designed to cover one semester or year, and you do not requalify.
  • You did not meet the school’s definition of satisfactory academic progress (SAP).
  • You withdrew from classes and failed to meet financial aid requirements for attendance.
  • You changed majors or schools, which disqualified you from specific financial aid.
  • You defaulted on a student loan and have not made good faith attempts to manage the problem.

What Are My Options? 

You can work with your school’s financial aid office and appeal any of these decisions or work on finding financial aid that fits your current needs. For example: 

  • If you default on your student loans while in school, you need to get out of default before you request more money.
  • If you did not meet your school’s SAP criteria, you can work with the decision committee, appeal their decision, and make a plan to improve your performance.
  • If you did not meet attendance requirements, this is an aspect of SAP, so you must appeal the decision.
  • If you switched schools, you no longer qualify for some institutional-specific programs, but you may qualify for new options at your new school.
  • If you switched majors, you no longer qualify for financial aid specific to your original program, but you may qualify for new scholarships.
  • If your parents made too much money, you may qualify for more student loans than need-based grants or scholarships.

Depending on why you lost your financial aid, there will be a different process for getting it back or qualifying for other types of financial aid. 

Can I Petition to Reinstate My Financial Aid at My Current School?

You do not have to transfer schools or drop out of school if your financial aid is suspended. Every college, university, trade, and professional school has an appeals process to help you get your financial aid back or find new types of financial aid to apply for.

Here are some general expectations for filing an appeal to regain financial aid: 

  • Complete the suspension appeal form, which you can do online or through your school’s financial aid office.
  • Write a letter or meet with the financial aid committee about next steps.
  • Come up with a plan to meet your school’s SAP requirements, pay back your defaulted loans, or take other necessary steps to regain your financial aid.
  • Make payments as required on defaulted loans.
  • If the committee agrees to reinstate your financial aid, you will be on a short probationary period to monitor your ability to make satisfactory academic progress.
  • If you meet SAP standards, your financial aid will be reinstated.

If the committee does not reinstate your financial aid while you are on probation, or you do not meet their requirements during your probationary period, many schools allow you to file a request for reinstatement. Since you intend to remain enrolled at the school, you can make your case for your financial need or personal need for help. 

What Should I Do if I Transfer Schools?

If you lose financial aid at one school, there are some instances when you can qualify at another school. For example, if you do not meet merit-based criteria at one school, you can still meet standards for merit-based scholarships at another institution. For some students, getting these scholarships is a reason to transfer.

States offer need-based financial aid to some students, so if you go to a school in a state where you are not the resident (or an “in-state student”), going back to your state of residence and attending a college there means you can qualify for more financial assistance. That’s another reason many students transfer. In-state tuition is more affordable, and they have better opportunities for financial assistance.

Federal financial aid can transfer with you between schools, but you must follow the DOE’s guidance. 

  • Check that your new school participates in federal student aid programs.
  • Update your FAFSA to include your new school’s information.
  • Review the financial aid package you receive from the new school to manage your expenses.
  • Work with your current school’s financial aid office to facilitate transferring any financial aid that can be transferred, like federal student loans.
  • Go through exit counseling for your federal student loans as required.

You can get financial aid at one school if you lose it at another, but only in specific cases. If you lose DOE financial aid, other schools will not give you more money for failing the federal government’s basic eligibility requirements. Instead, work with your current school. If you have been accepted to a new school, work with the new institution’s financial aid department to meet federal eligibility requirements.

In many cases, parents of dependent students make more money one year than they did the previous year, which can impact their child’s financial aid eligibility. As a student, you can file an appeal to regain the same amount of need-based aid you originally qualified for.

You can also work with your school to get student loans or work with a bank or other lending organization for a private student loan. Taking out a loan to cover costs for a semester or full academic year can give you time to find other ways to manage your education costs.

Once you take out federal and private student loans, you are required to pay them back over time. If you transfer schools, you may not be able to accept more private loan money from that lender, but you must pay back the principal you did borrow.