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Campus-Based Aid Programs

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), and Federal Perkins Loan programs are called campus-based programs because they're administered directly by the financial aid office at each participating school. Not all schools participate in all three programs.

How much aid you receive from each of these programs depends on your financial need, on the amount of other aid you receive, and on the availability of funds at your college or career school. Unlike the Federal Pell Grant Program, which provides funds to every eligible student, the campus-based programs provide a certain amount of funds for each participating school to administer each year. When the money for a program is gone, no more awards can be made from that program for that year.

Let's start with Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are gift aid for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest EFCs will be the first to get FSEOGs, which don't have to be paid back. You can get between $100 and $4,000 a year, depending on when you apply, your financial need, and the funding at the school you're attending. These grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree.

If you're eligible, your school will credit your account, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. Your school must pay you at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter).

And what is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient's course of study. Federal Work-Study can help you get valuable experience in your chosen field before you leave school.

Will I be paid the same as I would in any other job?

You'll be paid by the hour. No FWS student may be paid by commission or fee. Your school must pay you directly at least once a month. Wages for the program must equal at least the current federal minimum wage but may be higher, depending on the type of work you do and the skills required. Your total Federal Work-Study award depends on when you apply, your financial need, and the funding level at your school. The amount you earn can't exceed your total FWS award. When assigning work hours, your employer or financial aid administrator will consider your award amount, your class schedule, and your academic progress.

What kinds of jobs are there in Federal Work-Study?

If you work on campus, you'll usually work for your school. If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a private nonprofit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest. Your school may have agreements with private for-profit employers for Federal Work-Study jobs. This type of job must be relevant to your course of study. If you attend a career school, there may be further restrictions on the jobs you can be assigned.

What about Federal Perkins Loans?

A Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest (5 percent) loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Federal Perkins Loans are made through a school's financial aid office. Your school is your lender, and the loan is made with government funds. You must repay this loan.

Your school will either pay you directly (usually by check) or apply your loan to your school charges. You'll receive the loan in at least two payments during the academic year.

How much can I borrow?

You can borrow up to $4,000 for each year of undergraduate study, depending on when you apply, your financial need, and the funding level at the school.

Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?

No, there are no other charges. However, if you skip a payment, if it's late, or if you make less than a full payment, you may have to pay a late charge plus any collection costs.

So, when do I pay it back?

If you're attending school at least half time, you have nine months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status before you must begin repayment. This is called a "grace period." If you're attending less than half time, check with your college or career school to find out how long your grace period will be. At the end of your grace period, you must begin repaying your loan. You may be allowed up to 10 years to repay the loan in full. Periods of deferment and forbearance (see the next paragraph for more information on these terms) do not count as part of this 10-year period. Your monthly payment amount will depend on the size of your debt and the length of your repayment period.

What if I have trouble repaying the loan?

Under certain circumstances, you can receive a deferment or forbearance on your loan. During a deferment, no payments are required and interest does not accrue. During forbearance, your payments are postponed or reduced. Interest continues to accrue, and you are responsible for paying it.

A Perkins Loan can also be canceled under certain circumstances, such as your death or a total and permanent disability. You also might qualify for having your loan canceled because of the type of work you do once you leave school.

If you serve in the military, repayment assistance (not a cancellation, but another way to repay) may be available. For more information, contact your recruiting officer.

If you have more questions about Perkins Loans, check with the college or career school you plan to attend.

SOURCE: The U.S. Department of Education's guide "Funding Your Education 2002/2003."

© 2002 The Washington Post Company