Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and its amendments offer federal financial aid to college students who meet Title IV eligibility requirements. Title IV programs include the federal Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) as well as Perkins, Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), Stafford and William Ford Direct student loan programs.
About Title IV
Originally instituted with the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the U.S. government reauthorized Title IV benefits in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The purpose of Title IV benefits is to help college students pay for the increasing costs of a higher education. The amount of money available for Title IV benefits is subject to change yearly depending on federal government budgetary decisions. Title IV loan and grant amounts are determined by the applicant's financial need, total college costs and enrollment status. Students must enroll in school at least part-time to receive Title IV benefits. Part-time enrollment is defined as at least six credit hours.
General Eligibility Requirements
Individuals must be a U.S. citizen, national or lawful permanent resident alien to qualify for Title IV eligibility. Citizens of associated states of the U.S., such as Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are also eligible for Title IV benefits. Immigrants granted refugee or asylum status by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) are eligible for Title IV benefits as long as they have an Arrival-Departure record (Form I-94) that clearly states their refugee or asylum status.
Title IV Ineligibility
Individuals incarcerated at a federal or state prison are ineligible for Title IV benefits. Convicted sex offenders who must register with the National Sex Offender Registry are ineligible for Title IV benefits. Those who are in the U.S. temporarily, such as on a temporary work visa or fiancée visa, are not eligible for Title IV aid. Students convicted of drug-related offenses while receiving Title IV benefits become ineligible to receive additional benefits for up to one year for their first offense and for an indefinite period for subsequent offenses.
PLUS Loan Eligibility
The Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans are the only Title IV benefits program that require applicants to meet a minimum credit history criteria for eligibility. All other Title IV programs do not require credit qualification. To be eligible for Title IV benefits under the Federal Direct PLUS loan program, the applicant cannot have debts currently 90 or more days past due, pending bankruptcies, discharged bankruptcies, state tax liens, federal tax liens, defaulted federal student loans, wage garnishments or creditor judgments on their credit report for the five years prior to the PLUS loan application.