Eligibility, Costs And Need

Basic Eligibility

To be eligible for financial aid, a student must:

  • Enroll in a degree program
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (permanent resident)
  • Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
  • Make satisfactory academic progress while enrolled
  • Be registered for Selective Service (if applicable) and
  • Not be in default on a prior federal loan or owe an amount on a prior federal grant
  • Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds

How Financial Need is Determined

Most student aid is awarded on the basis of financial need.  The federal government reviews the information provided on your FAFSA and estimates how much you and your family can afford to pay for college. The University follows that federal calculation to determine what kind of state, federal, and USF aid is available for you.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attendance (COA) is not the balance that you owe the university.  It is a calculation of estimated expenses during the time you are enrolled in school.  It includes estimates of your enrollment costs; including tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, meals, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.  These numbers are inflated – on purpose – to allow the financial aid office to award a student enough aid to cover not only the direct costs of coming to school, but also to cover the indirect costs that a student may have throughout the semester.  The COA will vary from school to school.

Cost of Attendance (Average Budget)

Cost of Attendance = Tuition and Fees + Room and Board + Books and Supplies + Transportation + Personal Expenses

Expected Family Contribution

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined by the federal government based on your income and assets, living expenses, taxes, family size, and the number of college students in your household.  The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.  This EFC is provided to the school with the FAFSA information.  Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by USFSP to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. The EFC does not change based on the school you attend.

Financial Need

Student Financial Need = Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution

Need-based aid is financial aid that you can receive if you have financial need and meet other eligibility criteria. You can’t receive more need-based aid than the amount of your financial need.

Non-Need-Based Federal Student Aid Programs

Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on your EFC. What matters is your COA and how much other assistance you’ve been awarded so far.

Eligibility for Non-need-Based Aid = Cost of Attendance (COA) – Financial Aid Awarded So Far (includes aid from all sources, such as the school, private scholarship providers, etc.)

Academic Program Aid Eligibility

Eligibility for any financial aid program depends upon which degree you are pursuing and the type of aid in question. 

Regular Undergraduate

Working on first degree and have not yet met degree requirements

Aid Eligibility
Eligible for all federal and USF aid programs including scholarships, grants, loans and work study.

Second Undergraduate Degree

Working on second degree after having received first undergraduate degree

Aid Eligibility
Eligible only for federal student loans.

Certificate Program

Working on Certificate program (separate from a degree program)

Aid Eligibility
Not eligible for federal or USF aid. Private loans only.

Provisional Admit (MBA Essentials)

Admitted to a degree program but admission is provisional and requires completion of preliminary not-for-credit coursework

Aid Eligibility

  • MBA Essentials Students with at least 5 regularly enrolled (for-credit) USF Graduate hours: eligible for federal loans and scholarships.
  • MBA Essentials Students with one to five for-credit class USF Graduate hours: eligible for Private Loans only that will pay for less than ½ time enrollment.
  • MBA Essential Students taking ALL Essentials modules: eligible for a specific type of Private Loan for students enrolled in non-credit classes.


Admitted as regular admit to graduate or graduate professional program (master’s, doctoral, MD, DO, etc.)

Aid Eligibility
Eligible for federal student loans and scholarship aid.