All students who plan to attend a community college, four-year public university, independent university, or private career college should apply for financial aid! Financial aid will help you build upon your existing financial resources to cover your college costs!
Four Main Types of Financial Aid
- Grants: Financial aid based on financial need that does NOT have to be paid back! Available from the federal government, states, and individual colleges themselves. The Pell Grant is one of the federal government's primary grants. The Cal Grant is the state of California's grant program for qualified students.
- Scholarships: FREE MONEY for college typically based on merit, achievements, financial need or other criteria (see below for more info).
- Loans: Borrowed funds that must be paid back to the lender with interest. Some loans are based on student financial need and others are available for all qualified students. Loans are available for both students and parents. (Follow these links to learn more about loans made by the federal government, and beware of private student loans.)
- Federal Work-Study: Part-time jobs for students with financial need to help them pay for educational expenses.
Financial aid is delivered to a student in a "package" that includes a combination of these different types of aid depending on the availability of funds, student eligibility, the time-frame of application completion, and the student's year in school. A good Reference Chart to help you see what you might qualify for is available at icangotocollege.com.
Basic Steps for Applying for Financial Aid
- Start by completing and submitting the FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid - online at www.fafsa.gov between October 1 and March 2 the year prior to when you plan to attend college.
Students who are not U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens may be eligible to complete the California Dream Act application. Apply on-line at www.caldreamact.org bewteen Oct. 1st and Mar. 2nd. Follow this link to learn more about financial aid for undocumented students living in California.
- Apply for a Cal Grant by March 2: Check with the RAS Front Office to obtain the GPA Verification Form. This needs to be completed and signed by a school official, and you need to mail it (postmarked) by March 2.
- Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) which will be e-mailed/mailed to you after your FAFSA is submitted. The SAR is a summary of the information provided on the FAFSA. Make any changes/corrections to your FAFSA and re-submit as needed.
- Apply for Scholarships! Ask your employers (and/or parents'/guardians' employers), local organizations, businesses, and your colleges about scholarships. You can also find many scholarships online at such websites as:
- studentaid.govScholarships are also available for undocumented students
that DO NOT require proof of US citizenship or legal permanent residency. Check out the resources at this page
from CaliforniaColleges.edu to learn more.
Watch out for Scholarship Scams and remember: NEVER pay to apply for scholarships!
- Check with each college’s financial aid office to see if they require other forms or applications (especially private/independent colleges).
- California Community College students should complete and submit the California College Promise Grant (formerly called Board of Governors Fee Waiver) to their college's financial aid office. This fee waiver completely eliminates the $46 per unit cost of classes for eligible students!
- Evaluate all student aid offers from colleges and respond in a timely manner.
- Reapply for financial aid each year! Students must do a FAFSA or CA Dream Act application renewal each year while in college. Double-check reapplication deadlines with your college's financial aid office.