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Applying for U.S. Federal Student Aid Programs

  • Published: 2011-10-28 (Rev. 2015-05-25) - Contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Information on eligibility for U.S. student loans and grants including how and where to file your application.

Main Document

"The U.S. Department of Education will offer Special Direct Consolidation Loans to eligible borrowers, from January 2012."

Information on eligibility for U.S. student loans and grants including how and where to file your application.

Student Aid Eligibility:

Eligibility for U.S. Federal student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors.

The financial aid administrator at the college or career school you plan to attend can assist you to determine your eligibility for student loans and grants.

The following types of aid can help you pay for your education after high school.

  • Federal Loans - Student aid funds that you must repay with interest.
  • Work-Study - Part-time work program to earn money while you are in school.
  • Grants - Student aid funds that do not have to be repaid (other conditions may apply).

Federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education is the largest source of aid in America, providing over $150 billion in grants, work-study, and federal loans for students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools.

Types of federal student loans include:

  • Perkins
  • Direct Stafford
  • Direct Loan Consolidation
  • Direct PLUS (parent borrowers)
  • Direct PLUS (graduate and professional degree student borrowers)

The U.S. Department of Education FAFSA4caster can help you understand your options for paying for college by estimating your eligibility for federal student aid.

How to File an Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

  • Apply online
  • Complete a PDF FAFSA (PDF FAFSAs must be mailed for processing)
  • Request a paper FAFSA by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 319-337-5665. If you are hearing impaired, please contact the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.

Other Sources of Aid Include:

  • Scholarships
  • More federal aid sources
  • State higher education agencies
  • Scholarships for military families
  • Scholarships for persons with a disability
  • Your college, university, or career school

Tips to Reduce Your Education Costs:

  • Save Money
  • Check for Tax Breaks - Read IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education to see how you might benefit from federal income tax credits for education expenses.
  • You and your family can set up a tax-free Coverdell Education Savings Account - money from this account can be withdrawn without penalty. Learn about the tax advantages of state college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans at

Special Direct Consolidation Loans:

Special Direct Consolidation Loans are intended to help borrowers manage their debt by ensuring all of their federal loans are serviced by the same entity, resulting in one bill and one payment (borrowers repay loans to a loan servicer). Borrowers will receive an interest rate reduction on Special Direct Consolidation Loans as a repayment incentive.

The U.S. Department of Education will offer Special Direct Consolidation Loans to eligible borrowers, from January 2012. This is a short-term consolidation opportunity, ending June 30, 2012, for borrowers with...

  • At least one student loan held by the Department (a Direct Loan or a Federal Family Education Loan [FFEL] owned by the Department and serviced by one of the Department's services);
  • At least one commercially-held FFEL loan (a FFEL loan that is owned by a FFEL lender and serviced either by that lender or by a servicer contracted by that lender).

Further information is available at Student Aid on the Web - Special Direct Consolidation Loans

For repayment rates of student loans see the Student Loan Repayment Calculator.


  1. Student Loans College Scholarships and Grants - If you are trying to put together a funding package for college then a college scholarship should be top of your list.
  2. Disability College Services - Information for Students with Disabilities - As a student with a disability, you need to be informed about your rights and the responsibilities post secondary schools must abide by.
  3. List of Disability Scholarships - Scholarships for persons with disabilities can help subsidize education expenses.


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