Video: Financial Aid 101

Here's How to Apply for Financial Aid 

... and some things you'll want to know about what happens after you apply.

Learn what's available

If you're not already familiar with the world of financial aid, check out our pages on the Types of Aid that may be available to you.

See what college costs

You will also want to get an idea of how much it costs to go to college. See our Costs of Attending page.

Start the process

Ready to get started? Our Steps to Apply page will walk you through each stage of the process. Don't forget to check our Dates and Deadlines pages to make sure you're on track.

Now what ?

Once you've applied for financial aid, you'll want to know what happens next. You can learn what to expect – and how financial aid gets distributed – by reviewing the Accepting Your Award  and Funding Dates pages.

Anything else ?

Financial aid comes with conditions. Read the Maintaining Eligibility webpage to learn how you can remain in good standing – so you can continue to receive financial aid.  

Also, we understand that financial circumstances can change. Visit our Special Circumstances page to find out what you can do if that happens to you.

And finally, don't forget to check out our Things to Know section, where you will find important forms, funding dates – and more!

About Eligibility

To be eligible for financial aid, you generally must show the following

  • Financial need

  • U.S. citizenship, federal status as an "eligible noncitizen" or – for state aid – qualification under the California Dream Act

  • No current defaults on student loans and no outstanding amounts owed to any financial aid office

  • Enrollment or acceptance in an eligible program for the purpose of obtaining a degree or certificate (or transfer)

  • High school diploma, GED certificate, state certificate of proficiency, home school diploma or previous qualification through testing or completion of degree-applicable units

  • Satisfactory academic progress

Male students also must satisfy Selective Service requirements for draft registration. 

About Financial Need

Most types of financial aid are awarded on the basis of financial need

  • The information you report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is then used to determine your eligibility, under this formula:

    Cost of Attendance
    – EFC
    = Financial Need
  • A low EFC means you have greater need, and you may be eligible for more aid. However, funds are limited, so your award might fall short. To maximize your award, make sure you apply early.

  • Under some special circumstances – such as unusual debts or expenses, divorce or death – your estimated need may be adjusted by the Financial Aid Office. You will have to provide documentation of your family’s financial situation. For more information, visit the webpage entitled "Accepting Your Award."  

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