What Is The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant?
College students with financial need have access to various aid opportunities to help make higher education more attainable. One of these need-based financial aid programs is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program.
In the 2021-22 academic year, nearly $875 million in FSEOG grant funds were awarded to eligible students across 3,500 schools nationwide. Here’s what to know about this program and how to apply for an FSEOG.
What Is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant?
The FSEOG is a form of federal financial aid offered to students with exceptional financial need. Although it’s a federal program, it’s considered campus-based funding since awards are administered by individual schools. Seventy-five percent of funds are provided by the federal government each year, while the remaining 25% is supplemented by your school.
Recipients of the grant are awarded between $100 to $4,000 per academic year. If you receive the FSEOG, you don’t need to pay back the grant under most circumstances.
How Does the FSEOG Work?
The FSEOG was designed to provide additional financial support to high-need students. If your school participates in the program, it will use the information included in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to assess your eligibility.
In addition to evaluating your FAFSA to determine your financial need, your school will determine your eligibility based on other existing aid awards you’ve received, when you applied and the school’s available FSEOG funds.
FSEOG Eligibility Requirements
Below are the requirements you need to meet to qualify for an FSEOG:
- Be enrolled as an undergraduate student and not have earned a Bachelor’s degree
- Attend a participating Title IV school
- Submit a FAFSA
- Demonstrate exceptional financial need, based on your estimated family contribution (EFC)
Priority is given to undergraduate students who were awarded a Pell grant, another need-based federal aid program. Students who didn’t receive a Pell grant award but have a low EFC are also prioritized for FSEOG funding.
To maintain eligibility for subsequent years, you must continue to meet the basic FSEOG requirements. This includes demonstrating exceptional financial need each academic year and fulfilling enrollment standards. You also have to maintain satisfactory academic progress, meaning that your grades and completed credit hours must be sufficient enough to advance toward a degree in an acceptable amount of time.
How to Apply for an FSEOG
There isn’t a separate application process for an FSEOG. Simply complete and submit your FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Since participating schools have a finite amount of FSEOG award money each year, submitting your FAFSA early can help ensure you’re in the front of the line for funds.
If you’re eligible, your school might choose to apply the award directly to your outstanding tuition balance; some schools disburse the award directly to students. If any funds remain, your school must pay out the funds to you at least once or twice per academic year.
What to Do If You Don’t Qualify for the FSEOG
Students who don’t qualify for FSEOG aid—but need to fill a funding gap for an upcoming school year—still have options.
Apply for Other Federal Grants
Other federal grant programs are accessible through the FAFSA. Depending on your situation, you might be eligible for these awards that don’t need to be repaid.
Some examples include the:
- Pell grant. This aid opportunity is offered to undergraduate students and is determined based on your EFC and other factors. For the 2022-23 academic year, recipients can receive up to $6,895.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. This is a conditional grant program that requires recipients to fulfill a four-year service obligation teaching a high-need field at a school that serves low-income students. In exchange for this service agreement, TEACH grant recipients can receive up to $4,000 per year.
- Iraq and Afghanistan service grant. Students whose parent or legal guardian died due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan following 9/11 might be eligible for this federal grant program. The maximum amount you can receive depends on the academic year your award is disbursed. Awards can’t exceed your school’s cost of attendance.
Apply for External Scholarships and Grants
Consider applying to third-party scholarship and grant programs to cover financial gaps. Many private and nonprofit organizations sponsor merit- or need-based scholarships and grants. These opportunities are often accessible to different groups, whether based on your ethnicity, special skills, religious affiliations, career aspirations and more.
Appeal Your Financial Aid Award
If your financial situation changed drastically since you completed your FAFSA, submit an appeal to increase your financial aid package. You can do this by requesting a professional judgment from your school’s financial aid office. Be prepared to submit supporting documentation, if requested, to support your case.
Based on the new financial information you provide, your school’s financial aid administrator will determine if the change significantly impacts your aid award package. If so, they’ll recalculate your EFC using your updated details, which might result in an adjustment of your financial aid award package.
Although there’s no guarantee that your request for a professional judgment will be accepted, if your situation has significantly changed, it’s worth pursuing.