As tuition costs rise at public and private schools alike, students rely on financial aid to support their educations. Financial aid consists of scholarships and grants, as well as government loans. But some forms of financial aid are limited to one school at a time, which may affect students enrolled in multiple colleges simultaneously.
Each scholarship from a university or private organization has its own rules for determining which students are eligible for funding. This means that a single student can receive financial aid in this form from any number of schools, provided that part-time or nonexclusive enrollment is allowed under each scholarship's regulations. Some scholarships and grants are not connected to specific schools and provide general money for education, which students can spend on tuition and other expenses at two or more schools.
Federal financial aid, which comes in the form of flexible loans with low interest rates and several repayment options, can only cover a student's tuition at one school at a time. This means that a student who is enrolled in two schools and is eligible for federal financial aid must select one school to act as a home school. This is usually the school where the student takes the majority of each semester's classes and is working toward a degree. Financial aid will be distributed through that's school's administrative offices.
Students who transfer between schools can apply their federal financial aid to both schools. However, this transfer of financial aid does not happen automatically. Instead, transfer students must coordinate a transfer of their financial aid between institutions. This involves submitting an academic transcript from the old college to the new one and cancelling remaining disbursements from financial aid for the original school. Changes in tuition costs between schools may affect how much a student receives in financial aid, but transfer students are eligible for the same loans as students who remain at one school.
Graduate students who continue their studies at a new college or university are still eligible for financial aid. This marks another situation where financial aid pays for two schools in sequence, not at the same time. Graduate students must go through the same application procedures as when they filed for federal aid as undergraduates. Those who pursue an advanced degree at the same school where they earned their bachelor's degree are likewise eligible to continue receiving financial aid at the same school.