Harvard University

FAFSA and Financial Aid Income Limits

People often ask “what is the annual FAFSA or CSS Profile income limit that still allows my student to get college financial aid?” This is a logical question, right? The IRS uses all kinds of income limits for taxes. Loan companies have income limits for borrowing money. Colleges have grade point, ACT, or SAT limits for awarding money. So what’s the income limit for getting college financial aid?

There is none. There are no income limits for college financial aid.

College financial aid is a very complex calculation which utilizes student and parent income and assets, number of students in college, the cost of the college, amount of taxes paid, and a whole host of other information to determine what a student is eligible for. There are no hard and fast rules that says one family will get $5,000, but the family making X number of dollars more will get nothing. In fact, I have seen situations where a family with income around $70,000 per year received no financial help from a college, while a family making $200,000 received a pretty good chunk of money. The money the student is awarded is dependent upon the unique factors of that student’s individual family.

Now there are some pieces of financial aid which have EFC (expected family contribution) limits attached to them such as Pell Grants, SEOG grants, and certain subsidized loans. But EFC and income are not directly correlated. There are also some individual colleges and universities which will have their own internal policies keyed to specific income levels, but these individual policies are not universal by any means. For example, Harvard University will cover the total cost of college for student’s whose families make less than $60,000 per year. But again, this is specific to Harvard. Also, students whose families make more than $60,000 will be eligible for substantial amounts of financial help specific to their unique circumstances.

Do not get hung up on any kind of income limits. Always complete the financial aid paperwork. If you have heard about some income limit above which students don’t get any help, then your listening to useless rumor and inuendo.

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