What's the difference between matriculated and non-matriculated status? If you're thinking of going back to school or taking college courses for the first time, this question might be on your mind. Whether you want to have matriculated or non-matriculated status will mainly depend on your goals and aspirations.
What reasons do you have for going to college? The difference between matriculated and non-matriculated status is big enough so you that need to know why you want to go to college before you start taking classes. If you just want to take a couple classes for fun or need to learn a specific skill by taking a course or two, being a non-matriculated student would probably work out well. On the other hand, being a matriculated student is better for people that want to work towards a degree. If you're fairly sure that you want to earn a degree or certificate, becoming a matriculated student is your best bet. Keep in mind that many people enroll as a matriculated student and don't know what they want to major in, so don't worry about whether or not you've decided on a specific course of study. In short, matriculated status is for people who want to earn a degree or certificate, and non-matriculated status is for people who only want to take a few courses.
Credit Hour Limit
Another difference between matriculated and non-matriculated status is that the credit limits are different. For instance, full-time, matriculated students usually have to take between 12 and 18 credit hours per semester. Non-matriculated students can usually only attend classes on a part-time basis, meaning that they have to take less than 12 credit hours per semester. If you decide to become a non-matriculated student, keep in mind that many colleges also have a total credit limit. After you reach this limit, you may have to matriculate in order to take another class. If you still don't want to enroll in a degree or certificate program, however, your school may have a "lifelong learner" option or something similar so that you can continue to take classes as a non-degree student.
What's the difference between matriculated and non-matriculated status when it comes to financial aid? If you aren't independently wealthy, this is a very important question to ask. Many different types of financial aid are available, including state grants, federal grants, federal student loans and private student loans. As long as matriculated students can show financial need and meet other qualifications, they shouldn't have any trouble getting most kinds of financial aid. Non-matriculated students, however, have it harder. If you're planning on becoming a non-degree student, you probably won't get any grant money, and you may not qualify for certain types of loans. If you qualify for loans, check to see how long you can continue to qualify for them. For example, federal loans are usually only available to non-matriculated students for the first 12 consecutive months of enrollment.
Depending on what your goals are, either matriculated or non-matriculated status could be better for you. Education is important, so put some careful thought into your decision. Before you decide what kind of student you want to be, you should thoroughly research the difference between matriculated and non-matriculated status.