What is the FAFSA? It’s the FREE APPLICATION for FEDERAL STUDENT AID and it determines a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid, grants, and student and parent loans.
Who needs to complete the FAFSA? All students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who plan to enroll — or are currently enrolled — in postsecondary education. “Postsecondary education” means any form of education beyond high school. That includes two-year and four-year colleges, graduate schools, professional schools (like law, business, or medical school), and just about any program awarding a degree, certificate, or credit, including most vocational and technical schools.
To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students and parents will need:
NOTE: Most students fill out their first FAFSA when they are beginning the college application process. However, you need to submit a new FAFSA application for each year that you intend to receive financial aid. So, if you attend a four-year college, you will need to fill out and submit the FAFSA four separate times. This is because the government needs the most up-to-date and accurate financial information to make its calculations. If you want to estimate your federal aid, but aren’t ready to apply, check out the FAFSA4Caster -- https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/estimate
Before completing the FAFSA each student and one parent will need an FSA ID — Federal Student Aid ID — which consists of a username and password combination that allows you to sign the FAFSA electronically.
You can create your FSA ID and complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.
Complete your FAFSA as early as possible!
You can do this between October 1 and March 2 every year.
The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident documented students who meet certain provisions to apply for and receive private scholarships funded through public universities, state-administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants.
Student identification information. You’ll be asked to enter personal identification information such as your name, permanent mailing address, citizenship status, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have one), Statewide Student Identification number (if you have one), Social Security number (if you have one) or Alien Registration number (if you have one). Note: Most males between 18-25 must be registered with the Selective Service to receive state aid and can do this within the Cal Dream Act application.
When to File: File your application between October 1 and March 2 — earlier is always better!
Need help? Go to: https://dream.csac.ca.gov/
-- Get answers to questions about completing the Cal Dream Act application and answers to questions such as: What is AB540? What is DACA? Where can I find financial aid resources for dreamers? What is a Cal Grant?
CSS stands for College Scholarship Service. The CSS Profile is an application distributed by the College Board and is primarily used by private colleges and universities to provide a closer look into the finances of a student and family. It is much more detailed than the FAFSA. Many colleges with early acceptance programs use the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA. There is a small fee to file the CSS Profile. Examples of schools that require the CSS Profile include: Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Santa Clara University, and USC.
FAFSA or Cal Dream Act Application + GPA = possible Cal Grant (FREE 8356 for college!)
A Cal Grant is money for college that you don’t have to pay back. To qualify, you must meet the eligibility and financial requirements as well as any minimum GPA requirements. Cal Grants can be used at any University of California, California State University, or California Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California.
There are three kinds of Cal Grants (A, B, and C) but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA responses, your verified Cal Grant GPA, the type of California colleges you list on your FAFSA, and whether you’re a recent high school graduate. To learn more about the qualifications, go to Calgrants.org.
In order to be considered for a Cal Grant, you must complete the FAFSA or the Cal Dream Act Application between October 1 and March 2 in your senior year. Remember, the earlier you submit it, the better!
You must complete a GPA verification form and turn it into your school registrar. It’s a very simple form! It gives the school permission to send your A-G grades from 10th and 11th grades to the California Student Aid Commission. They do this electronically.
More information about Cal Grants: www.calgrants.org
A Pell Grant is money from the federal government that assists students to pay for college. Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. Eligible students receive a specified amount each year under this program. More than one-third of undergraduate students received a Pell Grant in 2014-15.
How much money can I get?
Amounts can change yearly. The maximum award is usually close to ,200. The amount you get, though, will depend on:
How do I qualify for a Pell Grant?
You are eligible for a Pell Grant if you have financial need. The U.S. Department of Education determines financial need by taking the information supplied when applying for a Pell Grant (for example your family income) and plugging it into a standard formula to produce a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is then compared to the expected cost of attending your college (tuition and fees, room and board, books, and supplies) to determine the financial aid for which you’re eligible.
To be eligible for a Pell Grant, you must complete your FAFSA and also:
Learn more at http://www.csac.ca.gov/middle-class-scholarship
Almost all students who complete the FAFSA will see student loans included in theirfinancial aid award letter. To be eligible for a federal student loan you must complete the FAFSA. Freshmen are typically limited to borrowing between ,500 — ,500; the amount goes up as the student progresses through college. You do not have to borrow the full amount offered. Try to avoid loans by working part-time and looking for scholarships but most students with financial need will need to take out a few student loans to make it through college.
The federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), available through the Direct Loan Program, lets parents borrow money to cover any costs not already covered by the student’s financial aid package, up to the full cost of attendance.
Student loans do not have to be paid back until you graduate or drop out of college. If you can graduate with ,000 of loan or less, you are doing well. Many people don’t think twice about borrowing money for a car. You are borrowing money for your future. The repayment of your loan can also be based on the income you are making after graduation. Repayment of your loan will help you build credit and help fund loans for other students.
There’s A LOT to learn about loans. Here are some links to good information:
For veterans — free college for your kids. The Post 9/11 GI Bill, which was passed in 2009, can provide valuable education benefits for anyone who served for at least 90 days in the military, reserves or National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001. The GI Bill pays up to the full cost of in-state tuition and fees for public colleges for up to four academic years, or up to ,500 per year for private colleges and international schools. To qualify for the maximum benefit, you must serve (or have served) at least 36 months since 9/11.
The Financial Aid Calculators are tools to help you figure out what you would have to pay at each college you are interested in.
Colleges and universities are required to have financial aid calculators on their websites; usually within the financial aid page. If you can’t find it for a particular school, just type “financial aid calculator” into the website’s search box.
The best calculators take into account a student’s grades and test scores so that merit awards can be estimated and included with other forms of aid.
Tools and calculators can be found at these links: