Maximum and Minimum Credit Hours Required for FAFSA for Graduate Programs

So you have financial support and just want to know how many hours of credit you have to spend to sustain it? Depending on the kind of financial assistance you get, the answer varies. In general, to maintain your financial assistance, you must be enrolled in at least six classes or become a full-time student. The credit cap will go up to 12 credits on certain forms of assistance, but it’s best to consult with the financial aid office to make sure.

Although many individuals apply for FAFSA® before they are accepted to college, once the semester begins, you need to retain your eligibility by taking the minimum required credits.

How Course Credits Can Affect Financial Aid Status for Masters Program?

To disburse your financial assistance to your student account, you must apply for at least 6 credits. If you may not enroll full-time, your financial assistance might be changed. Enrolment for financial assistance purposes is calculated after the date for each quarter to add classes. As mentioned below, students enrolled less than full-time as of the added deadline date will have their assistance changed. Changes to enrollment after the third week will not result in improvements to financial assistance unless:

  • Financial support is provided after the third week;
  • All W grade notations are issued to you; or
  • You’re leaving college before the end of the semester.

Credit values for financial aid eligibility are as follows:

  • Full-time: credits from 12-15 (you must obtain the approval of your academic preceptor if you enroll in 14 or fewer credits).
  • Part-time: Credits 6-11 (financial aid may be reduced).
  • Less than half-time: 5 credits and less—you are usually not eligible for financial support, although certain students may be eligible to receive a Pell grant in part.

For quarters in which the assistance is adjusted due to less than full-time attendance, you will be expected to refund any financial support you earn. If you leave or withdraw from all classes within a fifth, you will even be expected to pay for the financial assistance you receive. 

Failure to make sufficient progress will also have an effect on your financial assistance eligibility.

Credit Hour Requirements for Financial Aid in Graduate Programs

You will need to complete 12 credit hours each term to apply for the entire amount of financial assistance, including scholarships and student loans. That means you are a full-time student enrolled in classes.

For several students, especially those who have responsibilities outside of education, such as a job or family, full-time enrollment may be challenging.

In some of these cases, if you take less than 12 credit hours, you will be entitled to get a portion of your financial assistance. For example, the Pell Grant has a smaller credit requirement threshold than most other types of financial assistance. You must be enrolled for 12 credit hours a term in order to obtain full assistance from the Pell Grant. However, as long as you are eligible for 3 credits for every course, virtually all recipients get some help.

Maximum Credit Hours required for Financial Aid for Graduate Students

The maximum amount of hours that you will take before placing your financial aid at risk is another thing to remember about your credit hours and financial aid. You must make adequate academic progress to retain your eligibility for financial assistance (SAP). This suggests that you should gain good grades and advance towards graduation.

This also suggests, however, that you ought to finish your degree within the agreed maximum time period. You must complete your degree within 150 percent of the usual period to complete the program while you are seeking financial assistance. So you would need to be on track to earn your degree in six years if you are enrolled in a four-year program.

For a particular program, financial assistance covers a limit of 180 credit hours. What this all means is that the federal assistance will definitely no longer be open to you if you reach 180 hours.

When you have received 150 points, you will typically get a message advising you that you are meeting the threshold for financial assistance.

Credit Hour Required for FAFSA Financial Aid for Masters Program

Undergraduate ProgramsGraduate Programs
Pell Grants12+ credit hours = 100% of Pell Grant
9-11 credit hours = 75% of Pell Grant
6-8 credit hours= 50% of Pell Grant
3-5 credit hours or less= 25% of Pell Grant
Not Available for Graduate Programs
Subsidized LoansYou must be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours)Not Available for Graduate Programs
Unsubsidized LoansStudents must be enrolled in at least six credit hours to be eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans.Students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours to be eligible for Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans.
Requires 6 credit hours Requires 5 credit hours
FSEOG GrantStudents must enroll at least half-time or six credits.

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About Emily

Emily is a DePaul University Undergraduate student. She is a major in computer science and a mathematical minor. Emily plans to pursue a Master's degree in computer science in the future. Emily's key goal in the technology sector is to get into the right category.

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