Applying for aid: the requirements
To receive federal, state, or institutional funds you must:
- Demonstrate financial need (with the exception of some loans)
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be enrolled in at least six credit hours of an eligible degree-seeking or certificate program
- Be in good academic standing and maintain satisfactory academic progress toward completion of a degree or certificate
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Have a valid social security number
- If male, be registered with Selective Service or be exempt
- Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal educational loan
When should I apply for aid?
Apply as early as possible! You do not have to wait until you’ve been officially accepted. While we will accept applications for financial aid throughout the school year, we recommend that you complete yours early to make sure you don’t miss out on available aid.
For details on application windows for FAFSA/TASFA and scholarships, view important financial aid dates and deadlines.
Applying for aid: the process
How to apply for scholarships
You don’t have to complete the FAFSA to apply for scholarships, although we suggest you do — you could be eligible for other types of aid! Unlike other forms of financial assistance, you’ll need to apply for most scholarships individually, and the process will vary by program.
You can apply for SFA’s many scholarship opportunities through mySFA by following these instructions:
- Log in to mySFA.
- Select Financial Aid from the menu.
- Select SFA Scholarship Application.
- Within the application you can:
- Request references by submitting names and email addresses
- Complete essays, when required
You may also be eligible for outside scholarships. Read more about scholarships.
How to apply for all other types of aid
Do you need a FAFSA or a TAFSA? One of the first steps to applying for aid is determining your residency status. Then you’ll know which of the following financial aid applications to complete.
- U.S. citizens: online FAFSA application
- Eligible non-citizens: online FAFSA application
- Non-Citizen Texas Residents: online TASFA application
Expect to spend about 30 minutes completing your application. There’s no need to rush! Even though the FAFSA is an online application, you'll be able to save your progress.
Important documents and information
- Your social security number
- Proof of residency card (if applicable)
- Your tax record (more information on tax records below)
- Your most recent W-2 forms or records of money earned
Important information to successfully complete FAFSA application:
- Be sure you include SFA’s Title IV School Code: 003624
- Be sure to use data retrieval when completing the FAFSA. This will allow you to retrieve income information directly from the IRS.
- Make sure you and/or a parent sign the FAFSA to avoid a processing delay
- Verify your answers and check for accuracy — errors will delay the process
The Department of Education selects applicants randomly for verification. If you're selected for verification, you'll receive an email in your mySFA account indicating that you are missing documents. You will then log into your mySFA account to view the required documents.
If you did not use the data retrieval tool while completing the FAFSA, a signed copy of your tax return or tax transcript may be requested if you are selected for verification.
Non-tax filers, including parents and independent students, that are selected for verification must submit a Non-Filing Letter from the IRS.
Unusual Enrollment History
Federal regulations require SFA to monitor and resolve unusual enrollment history of selected students. SFA is required to review all of the applicant’s transcripts from previously attended colleges or universities. Therefore, all transcripts must be submitted to SFA whether credit was earned or not. After this additional verification is completed by SFA’s Financial Aid Office, it will be determined the if the student is eligible for additional Pell Grant awards.
Statement of educational purpose/identity
Students may be selected by the federal processor to verify their identity and sign a statement of educational purpose. Valid Government-issued photo identification is required to satisfy this requirement.
Dependent status vs. Independent status
When you complete your FAFSA, you’ll need to include your parents’ financial information unless you qualify for independent status.
To qualify for independent status, you must be able to answer “yes” to one of the following questions and be able to provide documentation.
- Were you born before January 1, 2000?
- As of today, are you married? (Also answer "yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
- At the beginning of the 2023–24 school year, will you be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program?
- (MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2024?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
- Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2022, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2022, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2022, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
When will I hear back?
Depending on how you submit your FAFSA, it can take anywhere from three days to three weeks for the U.S. Department of Education to process your application and send you a Student Aid Report (SAR) with your expected family contribution.
SFA will receive a copy of your financial assistance application, and we’ll use that information to create your financial aid package offer. That process can take as long as two to three weeks.
Non-degree students are ineligible
You are a non-degree seeking student if you haven’t officially been admitted into an SFA degree program but are taking classes here. This designation usually applies to post-baccalaureate students. You might be waiting for official admission into a graduate program, or you want to take a couple of classes without pursuing a degree.
As a non-degree student you are ineligible for financial aid.
Eligible non-citizens - FAFSA
The federal government considers you a noncitizen, eligible to complete the FAFSA, if you are any one of the following:
- U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card or "Green Card”)
- Conditional permanent resident (I-551C)
- Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: Refugee, Asylum Granted, Indefinite Parole, Humanitarian Parole or Cuban-Haitian Entrant
- A citizen of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH) or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM)
If your citizenship status has recently changed from an eligible noncitizen to a U.S. citizen, contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update your citizenship status will help you avoid delays processing your student financial aid.
Non-citizen Texas Residents - TASFA
Non-citizens classified as Texas residents for tuition purposes under HB 1403 or SB 1528 are not eligible to receive federal financial aid, but you may be eligible for state financial aid.
As a Texas resident, you may apply for state financial assistance by completing the TASFA. You will need to submit a completed TASFA application and a notarized affidavit to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships:
P.O. Box 13052, SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962
We will review your TASFA application and determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for state financial assistance.
If you are not a citizen of the U.S. or an eligible non-citizen, you are not eligible for federal student aid. Contact the Office of International Programs.