What is the FAFSA?
To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, state grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). No question about it. Completing and submitting the FAFSA gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.
Completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the single most important thing you can do to get assistance paying for college. By completing and submitting a FAFSA, you will automatically be considered for federal, state and institutional aid.
Every year, the federal government awards about $150 billion in the form of grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to help millions of students pay for college.
Unfortunately, some students feel like they shouldn’t bother filling out a FAFSA because of some common myths. These include:
- “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
- “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
- “I’m too old to get financial aid.”
- “The form is too hard to fill out.”
However, these concerns are usually unfounded. For more information, download “Myths About Financial Aid” at http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/financial-aid-myths.pdf.
NEW FINANCIAL AID WORKSHOP SCHEDULE:
How do I apply for aid? (Watch this tutorial to get started)
To apply for federal student aid, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). >>>Click HERE to start your application>>>
We recommend that you submit your FAFSA online using FAFSA on the Web, as your application will process within 3-5 days; alternatively, you can submit a paper FAFSA, which processes within 7-10 days.
For help with filling out the FAFSA, you can go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/resources#free-application-for or call 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
- Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen of the United States.
- Have a valid Social Security Number.
- Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling.
- Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
- Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering; see www.sss.gov for more information.)
- Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans).
Many types of federal student aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant or subsidized loans where the government pays the interest while you are in college, also require you to have financial need. Additionally, once you have a bachelor’s degree or a first professional degree, you are generally not eligible for Pell or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).
Click HERE for Answers to Most Common FAFSA Questions like what do when:
- I have a non-traditional family
- I don't depend on one or both parents
- I have an unusual immigration status
What types of aid are available? (click HERE for a user-friendly graphic)
Grants are typically awarded on the basis of need and generally do not have to be repaid. There are four types of federal student grants:
- Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award for the 2015-2016 award year is $5,775; however, the actual award depends on the student’s financial need, the college’s cost of attendance, the student’s enrollment status, and the length of the academic year in which the student is enrolled. Students can receive the Federal Pell Grant for up to the equivalent of 12 semesters.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. The amount of the award is determined by the college’s financial aid office, and depends on the student’s financial need and the availability of funds at the college.
California Chafee Grants for Foster YouthStudents who have been or are currently in foster care may qualify for up to $5000 for college or job training in addition to other student aid. Chafee Grants do not have to be paid back. Learn more about the California Chafee Grant and services for foster youth.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants are awarded to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. If the service requirement is not fulfilled, it could turn into a loan.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are awarded to students whose parents or guardians were members of the Armed Forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. To qualify, a student must have been under 24 years of age or enrolled in college at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death.
The Federal Work-Study Program enables students to earn money during the school year while also gaining valuable work experience, typically in part-time, career-related jobs.
Loans consist of money that the student borrows to help pay for college, and must be repaid (plus interest). There are two federal student loan programs:
- The Federal Perkins Loan Program is a campus-based program that provides low-interest loans to undergraduate and graduate students. The amount of the award depends on the student’s financial need, the amount of other aid the student receives, and the availability of funds at his/her college.
- The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program enables students and parents to borrow money at low interest rates directly from the federal government. The Direct Loan Program includes Direct Stafford Loans, which are available to undergraduate and graduate students, and Direct PLUS Loans, which are available to parents of dependent students and to graduate and professional-degree students.
Other forms of financial aid that might be available to students include:
- State government aid - Cal Grants
- Aid from the college. Students should contact the financial aid offices at the colleges they are considering for more information.
- Scholarships. Some states, local governments, colleges, community organizations, private employers, and other organizations award scholarships based on academic ability or other factors.
- Tax credits for education expenses. For more information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/tax-benefits.
- Aid for the military. For more information, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/military.
Note: Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. Think of the EFC as an index number used by your college to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.
it is highly recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can after October 1 to ensure that you do not miss out on available aid. You will need to have your tax forms from the prior tax year available. For example if you're applying for Fall 2017 admission, you will be using 2015 tax forms.
Your eligibility for financial aid can differ from year to year for various reasons, including your family’s financial situation and the number of your family members enrolled in college.
***If you have a burning question and need support please call FAFSA directly at 1-800-433-3243***
Teacher/Counselor Financial Aid Toolkit - Interested in facilitating a FAFSA activity in your classroom. Click the link for a full list of FAFSA resources including videos and handouts.
Students must complete the FAFSA or the Dream Act application and submit the Cal Grant GPA Verification form by March 2. Cal Grant GPA are sent electronically for all Seniors at PHS. Cal Grant money can only be used for California colleges and is allocated based on your high school GPA and financial need.
Many PHS students applying to college will be eligible for a Cal Grant A or B, which can potentially cover all of your CSU or UC tuition only. For more information on Cal Grants including income ceilings and GPA verification forms click HERE.
Cal Grant A Entitlement Award
- Students who meet all the Cal Grant eligibility requirements, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, and apply by March 2 either of the year they graduate from high school or the following year are guaranteed a Cal Grant A. Students awarded an Entitlement Cal Grant A must confirm their high school graduation at www.webgrants4students.org before funds can be disbursed.
- The Cal Grant A Entitlement award provides for tuition and fees at the California State University and the University of California, as well as tuition support at participating independent colleges and universities and career colleges.
- For year 2012-13, a Cal Grant A pays $12,192 at the University of California, $5,970 at California State University, and $9,223 at non-public colleges.
Cal Grant A and B Competitive Awards
- Students who are not eligible for a Cal Grant A or B Entitlement award may compete for a Cal Grant A or B Competitive award.
- Cal Grant Competitive awards are the same as a Cal Grant Entitlement awards, except that they are not guaranteed.
- Each year, 22,500 Cal Grant Competitive awards are available. Of these, 11,250 are for students who do not qualify for a Cal Grant Entitlement award, but who otherwise meet the Cal Grant requirements and apply by March 2.
- The remaining 11,250 awards are set aside for eligible California Community College students who meet the September 2 deadline.
Cal Grant B
Cal Grant B provides a living allowance and tuition and fee assistance for low-income students. Awards for most first-year students are limited to an allowance for books and living expenses. When renewed or awarded beyond the freshman year, the award also helps pay for tuition and fees. The awards for tuition and fees are the same as those for Cal Grant A. For Cal Grant B, your coursework must be for at least one academic year.
There are two types of Cal Grant B awards: Entitlement and Competitive. There is also a Cal Grant B award for students transferring from a California Community College to a four-year college.Cal Grant B Entitlement Award
- Students who meet all the Cal Grant eligibility requirements, and have at least a 2.0 GPA and apply by March 2 of the year they graduate from high school or the following year are guaranteed a Cal Grant B. Students awarded an Entitlement Cal Grant B must confirm their high school graduation at www.webgrants4students.org before funds can be disbursed.
- The Cal Grant B Entitlement award provides up to $1,473 for books and living expenses for students in their first year of college.
- For the second and subsequent years, the award also provides for tuition and fees at the California State University and the University of California., as well as tuition support at participating independent colleges and universities and career colleges.
Cal Grant C awards assist with tuition and training costs for occupational, technical, and vocational programs. The award includes up to $547 for books, tools and equipment — and up to $2,462 more for tuition and fees if you’ll be attending a school other than a California Community College (community colleges don’t charge tuition and your fees will be waived as a Cal Grant recipient). Funding is available for up to two years, depending on the length of the program. To qualify, you must enroll in an occupational, technical, or vocational program that is at least four months long at a California Community College, an independent college, or a vocational/career school. Even though a GPA is not required to apply for a Cal Grant C, you are still encouraged to submit yours because it can only help your chances of receiving an award.
In order to determine an applicant’s eligibility for a Cal Grant C, additional information must be provided on the Cal Grant C Supplement form. Supplements are scored based on your work experience, educational history, vocational aptitude, and occupational goal (see Senate Bill 451 info below).
Only if you are potentially eligible for the award will you receive an e-mail or letter notification and access to complete the online Cal Grant C Supplement in WebGrants for Students. You will have 30 days from the date of notification to complete this form. If you are unable to complete the Cal Grant C Supplement online, a paper copy of the form is available at http://www.csac.ca.gov/doc.asp?id=80. The paper Supplement must be completed and submitted to the California Student Aid Commission by the deadline.
Cal Grant C award offers will be made by the end of June.
Community College Reserve Grant
If you receive a Cal Grant A but attend a California Community College first, your award will be reserved for up to three years until you transfer to a four-year college, if you continue to qualify. If you list a California Community College before a four-year California college on your FAFSA, it will be assumed the community college is your first choice. If you receive a Cal Grant A, it will be placed in reserve for your first year unless you transfer to a tuition or fee-charging college and activate your award. When you transfer, be sure to let your school know you have a reserve grant.
California Community College Transfer Entitlement Cal Grant
- California Community College students who meet all the Cal Grant eligibility requirements, have at least a 2.4 community college GPA, and meet the awards additional requirements (listed below) are guaranteed a Cal Grant to attend a four-year college.
- To qualify, students also must have graduated from a California high school after June 30, 2000, have been a California resident at the time they graduated and be under the age of 28 as of December 31 of the year in which they first receive an award.
- In addition, students can not have received a Cal Grant within a year of graduating from high school.
The CSS PROFILE is required by many private colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution's own grants, loans and scholarships. For a list of schools that require the CSS Profile click HERE.
The biggest differences between the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA are:
- Specific questions: The CSS PROFILE contains questions specific to the school or program you're applying to; FAFSA contains the same questions for everyone.
- Different methodology: The CSS PROFILE determines your financial need differently than the FAFSA, taking into account such factors as whether your family owns a home. In general, the CSS PROFILE asks for more detailed information than FAFSA.
- Minimum student contribution: The CSS PROFILE requires this; the FAFSA doesn't.
- Greater reliance on professional judgment: The CSS PROFILE gives financial aid counselors greater freedom to grant aid based on a student's particular circumstances.
- Cost: There is a cost to filling out the CSS Profile, though some families may qualify for fee waivers; the FAFSA, as the name implies, is free.
You can complete the CSS PROFILE online profileonline.collegeboard.com.
Colleges that Meet 100% Financial Need
A number of colleges have committed to offering low-income students who meet admission requirements loan-free financial aid packages. For a full list of colleges click HERE.
For a list of colleges that meet 100% financial need click HERE.