College students come in all shapes, sizes and types.  When we think of college kids, we imagine them spending 4 years juggling full course loads.  However, some students opt to take their time in completing a degree, or need to do to personal reasons.  No matter how many courses you take, however, the cost can still be quite a burden.  Therefore, part-time students are afforded financial aid opportunities similar to their full-time peers.  Here are some examples of part-time financial aid:


Part-time students are eligible for education loans, contrary to the belief that such aid is reserved for full-time students.  The difference, as is the case with most financial aid opportunities, is the amount a part-time student stands to get.  Guidelines for both the Perkins and Stafford Loan programs specify that students be "enrolled at least half-time." This means that a part-timer must take at least 6 credits per term to claim federal education loans.  In any case, loans for part-time students would typically be in lower amounts than those for full-time students.

The Stafford Loan, which comes in two distinct forms (subsidized and unsubsidized), is hard to pin down in terms of what a part-timer would get, as it's based on factors outside of enrollment (i.e. whether a student is independent or a dependent, year of study, etc).  We can say, however, the the bare minimum annual Subsidized Stafford Loan is $250 and goes upward to $7,500.  Unsubsidized Stafford Loans allow all students to borrow at least $2,000.

The Perkins Loan functions differently.  It has a 5% fixed interest rate, and  the program also has the benefit of a 9-month grace period (compared to 6 months provided by Stafford before repayment).  The minimum Perkins Loan is $700, upwards to $5,500 per year.  The money will also be disbursed through your school instead of by a lender.


The Pell Grant is available to part-time students.  Unlike loans, which are trickier to calculate for part-timers, the Pell Grant makes it quick and easy to figure out.  Your award is based on a full-time enrollment, whether you attend full-time or not.  So, say you are eligible for the maximum annual Pell grant, which is $5,550.  Attending only half time will in fact cut the award in half to $2,775, as this would have been the payment amount per full-time semester (and a half-timer learns in a year what a full-timer learns in one semester).  It's unfortunate to receive a decreased award, but given enrollment status, part-time students do not have as high of a financial need.

Understandably so, part-time students require less aid and therefore recieve less.  However, no matter what your student status, financial aid is always available in some capacity.

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