Eligible Means-Tested Federal Benefits on the FAFSA

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

May 12, 2020

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides simplified financial aid formulas in one of three circumstances, including the receipt of certain means-tested federal benefits.

To be eligible for the Simplified Needs Test and Auto-Zero EFC, these criteria must be satisfied:

  • Someone in the household received certain means-test federal benefits in either of the last two years.
  • If the student is dependent, the parent’s income must satisfy certain income thresholds. If the student is independent, the student’s income and the income of the student’s spouse (if married) must satisfy those income thresholds.

The Simplified Needs Test omits all assets on the FAFSA.

Auto-Zero EFC sets the expected family contribution (EFC) to zero. A zero EFC qualifies the applicant for the maximum Federal Pell Grant.

The eligible means-tested federal benefits include:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)


A good place to start:

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