The Limits of an FSEOG

The Limits of an FSEOG


There are many federally funded programs that seek to assist students with their college expenses. Some make low-interest loans available; some provide grant funding and some are “work study” programs where a student works in exchange for financial support or assistance with college.

One of the most commonly sought after grants from the federal programming is the Pell Grant. This is awarded only to first time college students who are seeking their first Bachelor’s degree.

A Pell Grant is a requirement to obtain further federal grant funding. After a Pell Grant most students will have to demonstrate an “exceptional” financial need in order to obtain additional funding. Another commonly sought out grant is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or the FSEOG.

The FSEOG is available in a limited number of schools, with approximately four thousand colleges and universities currently making them available. One serious limitation to an FSEOG amount is the financial liability of the school that awards them. For example, most colleges that are part of the FSEOG system or program must contribute twenty-five percent of the total amount awarded to each student. When the annual total of seven hundred million dollars is considered, that makes it quite clear why so many schools have begun to put a low “cap” on the total amount of FSEOG funding they accept from the government.

Unlike the Pell Grant program, the funds for FSEOGs are in the hands of the financial aid office of the colleges and universities. The office itself determines the amount given to each student. This is based on a number of variants, such as the Expected Family Contribution, the EFC, for the student’s family, the amount of any other grants, scholarships or student aid, and the enrollment status of a student – part or full time.

For example, if a student’s family is able to contribute a significant amount of their tuition, per the results in their EFC, the FSEOG for that student would be significantly less than a student whose family is unable to contribute any funding at all towards educational expense.

Another serious limit to FSEOGs is the amount available during any given school year. Because the government distributes the funds once a year to each school participating in the program, the funds may run out before the academic year is completed. This means that even though a student can demonstrate exceptional financial need, and be unable to afford his or her tuition for a semester, the FSEOG funds may no longer exist to help them with their educational goals. This is the reason so many students apply for FSEOGs as soon as they become aware of their Pell Grant awards.