Going to school part time decreases expenses, but even reduced school costs may still be beyond the reach of many students. Student loans and grants are available to both full- and part-time students. Find out what types of aid are available and how to qualify.
Students who filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may receive an offer including federally funded student loans, such as a Direct or PLUS loan. These loans are issued based on the number of completed credit hours and financial need. Students who are enrolled on at least a half-time basis are eligible to receive these loans. Half time is considered to be at least six credit hours or a reasonable equivalent.
A student's aid package may also include grants, such as the federal Pell grant. These grants are based on financial need and are issued by the school from federally appointed funds. Eligibility for a Pell grant is determined in a similar fashion to a federal loan; students who are enrolled in at least six credit hours are eligible to receive this type of funding.
Private lenders offer a multitude of loan programs. Some are tailored to full-time students; others, like Sallie Mae's private loans, are available to all students, even those enrolled less than half time. These loans have varying terms -- interest can be deferred or immediately due, payments can be deferred or begin immediately, depending on the lender. Since each lender sets its own criteria, part-time students need to check with the lender to see if they are eligible to receive funds.
Part-time students are subject to the same application processes as a full-time student. For federal funds, this means filling out the FAFSA, which contains information about your dependent status, your income and your education plans. This application is submitted to the Department of Education. Since funds, especially grants, are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, it is advisable to get your application as soon as the calendar year begins.