Citizenship Status

A student must be one of the following to be eligible to receive federal student aid:

  • A U.S. Citizen or national;
  • A U.S. permanent resident or other eligible noncitizen; or
  • A citizen of the Freely Associated States: the Federated State of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau and the Marshall Islands. These students can only receive aid from select FSA programs.

To determine whether applicants are citizens, all applications are matched with Social Security records. If there is a complete match with the student’s Social Security number, name, date of birth, and U.S. citizenship, the CPS will determine the student to be a citizen. The Student Aid Record (SAR) and Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) will have a match flag (but no comment), indicating that the student’s status has been confirmed. If the applicant is a non-citizen and provides an alien registration number (A-number or ARN) on the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education will submit the records to the Department of Homeland Security, in order to check and verify noncitizen current immigration status. A student’s citizenship status only needs to be checked once during the award year; if the status is eligible to receive the Pell Grant at the time, it remains so for the rest of the award year. For additional information on citizenship status and regulations, please review Volume 1, Chapter 2 of the FSA Handbook which can be accessed at