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Criteria for Financial Aid: Understanding the Selection Process

Posted by Sara Giboney Friday, Jan. 19, 2024

Criteria for Financial Aid - Understanding the Selection ProcessHave you been wondering about the financial aid selection process? 

College financial aid might seem overwhelming, but learning how you can qualify for scholarships and loans will help make your higher education experience less stressful.

Here’s your guide to Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) eligibility requirements, key criteria for financial aid recipients, how to qualify for college scholarships and more.

The Financial Aid Landscape at Nebraska Methodist College

Exploring financial aid options will help make college more affordable and reduce your student loan debt after graduation.

Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) awards about $4 million annually in scholarships and grants, including $3 million in institutional scholarships.

Scholarship funding is limited and distributed based on GPA and date of acceptance.

Students have access to financial aid advisors for assistance with the financial aid process.

Types of Financial Aid: From Grants to Loans

There are different types of financial aid that you might qualify for:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work-Study
  • Loans
  • Employer tuition assistance or reimbursement


Scholarships are an integral part of reducing the cost of your college education. You can apply for institutional scholarships and external scholarships to help pay for your tuition.

While you might qualify for an institutional scholarship, you’ll want to research external scholarships. They could be available through non-profit organizations, religious entities, your employer, your parents’ or guardians' employer or athletic clubs.

You can find more scholarship opportunities through EducationQuest.

Each scholarship will have an application that could include a form, essay, transcripts or proof of financial need.


Grants, like scholarships, are free aid and don’t require repayment.

Most grants are based on students’ financial need as determined by their FAFSA results. 

Students with the greatest financial need could be eligible for Federal Pell Grants from the U.S. Department of Education. 

To qualify for and renew grants, you must fill out your FAFSA each year that you’re enrolled in college.

Some grants for college students may require an additional application. 


The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to work to earn money for educational expenses. Most positions are on campus.

Work-study may be included in your financial aid offer if you demonstrate financial need. You can accept or decline the offer.

You can also contact your financial aid advisor to discover whether you are eligible.

Read more: A Comprehensive Guide to Work-Study Programs


After receiving scholarships and grants, you may still need to take out loans to pay for college.

You can choose between federal or private loans. All loans must be repaid with interest after graduation. 

The interest rate is the amount you pay to borrow money. When you pay back your loan, you’ll also pay a percentage of the loan as interest.

The U.S. Department of Education provides funding and serves as a lender for Federal Direct Loans. 

Students must be enrolled at least half-time during the period of the loan. All loans require completing the FAFSA. 

Read more: Four Ways to Get All the College Scholarships You Can

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

If you’re working for a hospital or healthcare provider, your employer might offer tuition assistance or reimbursement when you’re enrolled in college.

Methodist Health System (MHS) offers the Tuition Assistance Program to eligible employees who attend NMC. You’ll receive up to $3,500 a year in tuition assistance if you’ve worked for MHS for at least six months at a minimum of 16 hours per week prior to the beginning of the semester.

At NMC, you can make an appointment with a financial aid advisor to learn more about scholarships, grants, work-study and loans.

Understanding the Financial Aid Selection ProcessKey Criteria for Scholarship Recipients

There are different eligibility requirements for financial aid. They include:

  • Financial need.
  • Academic achievement.
  • Extracurricular experience.
  • Group membership.
  • A combination of criteria.

Because some scholarships are merit-based, maintaining academic excellence is important. Your grades in high school, community college or university can impact your eligibility for scholarships.

There might also be income-based financial aid criteria. So you’ll have to include federal tax information and information on finances for you and/or your parents if you are a dependent student when you fill out your FAFSA and some scholarships.

The FAFSA Factor: Your Gateway to Financial Aid

Understanding FAFSA eligibility requirements is important as you navigate the financial aid application process.

The primary criteria for the Title IV financial aid programs include:

  • Being a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • Having a valid Social Security number.
  • Not being in default on a federal student loan or owing a repayment to a federal student grant.
  • Maintaining satisfactory academic progress toward completion of your eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Showing you are qualified to obtain a post-secondary education by:
    • Having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate or completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.

After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive a FAFSA Submission Summary. This will give you basic information about your financial aid eligibility. The financial aid office at your college will notify you of your financial aid offer.

Your offer could include institutional scholarships, work-study and the federal loan amount you qualify for.

The data from your FAFSA may also be used to determine your eligibility for scholarships and grants you apply for. 

Read more: How to Apply for Federal Student Loans: A Step-by-Step Guide

Maintaining Aid Eligibility: It's Not Just About Getting In

It’s important to remember that you have to submit your FAFSA and apply for new scholarships every academic year.

Some scholarships may be renewable, meaning they automatically renew each semester or academic year. Others might be a one-time scholarship.

Because you might be applying for merit-based scholarships each year, you’ll want to maintain a high academic performance. 

Pay close attention to the scholarship criteria so you know what the expectations are.

All students must be making satisfactory academic progress toward their degree completion in order to continue receiving financial aid. 

Read more: Six Ways to Reduce the Cost of a Healthcare Education

The Financial Aid Selection ProcessThe Aid Selection Process Unveiled

To receive financial assistance at NMC, you must first be admitted to an eligible degree program. 

New students may qualify for certain scholarships once admitted, with no separate application required. However, other scholarships are competitive and require an application.

External scholarships and Methodist Health System employee resources require an application.

Federal, state and institutional need-based aid is based on the results of the FAFSA and determination of students’ need as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.

Need is defined by the following formula:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Student Aid Index (SAI) = Need

Preparing for Financial Success at Nebraska Methodist College

NMC understands how valuable financial aid is, which is why financial aid advisors help students understand their financial aid options and assist them through the process.

Ready to maximize your financial aid opportunities? Dive deeper with our comprehensive guide and secure the funding you deserve. Start your journey here!

Topics: healthcare education, financial aid, healthcare career

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