What is Financial Aid?
There are 4 types of financial aid:
- Grants are free money awarded based on your need. There are federal grants such as the Pell Grant and state grants such as the Cal Grant.
- Federal Work Study allows students to earn money while they are in school. This is not money that is given to you up front, you have to earn it at a job. Usually the job is part time and on campus.
- Loans are money that students can borrow to help pay for college. Like any other loan, these have to be paid back, sometimes with interest.
- Scholarships are free money that are awarded based on specific requirements. You generally have to submit an application to receive a scholarship.
FAFSA and FSA ID
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a required application for financial aid. It is required by all institutions whether it is a community college, a vocational/technical college or a four-year college or university. Students and parents must complete the FAFSA in their senior year of high school. It is important to complete the FAFSA even if you do not think you are eligible for financial aid.
You must have a Social Security number to complete the FAFSA. If you do not have a Social Security number you should complete the California Dream Act Application.
Before you can complete the FAFSA you and your parent must apply for a FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID. Visit Federal Student Aid to get your FSA ID.
Once you and your parent have a FSA ID, you can start your FAFSA at Federal Student Aid: Apply for Aid.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, the FAFSA will be available beginning October 1, 2020. The deadline to complete the FAFSA is due March 2, 2021, for CalGrant eligibility.
California Dream Act Application
The California Dream Act Application allows students enrolled in eligible California colleges, universities and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. This application is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Completion of the California Dream Act Application is required to determine financial aid for California AB540 eligible students. Your application will be processed by the California Student Aid Commission.
To complete the CA Dream Act Application, please visit California Student Aid Commission website.
Cal Grants come in different varieties and sizes depending on the school, the students’ income and their Grade Point Average (GPA). The amounts usually rise with tuition at California’s public colleges and universities.
The maximum award in 2020-2021 will be:
- $12,570 at a UC
- $9,084 at a private non-profit college
- $5,742 at a CSU
- $1,672 at a community college
In some cases, for very low-income students at UC and CSU, an additional $1,672 may be available for living expenses and books.
As the name implies, they are outright grants and do not have to be repaid.
By completing the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application, you are automatically reviewed for Cal Grant eligibility, as long as the commission receives a school-verified GPA record. Your GPA is submitted by the school.