Complete and submit the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form is a federal form that must be filed by any student who wants to be considered for college financial aid. For a Cal Grant, the FAFSA must be completed and filed with the federal processor by March 2* of each year.
*Missed the March 2 deadline? There is a secondary deadline, specifically for California Community College students, September 2. Submit the required forms before the September 2 deadline to be considered for this specific Cal Grant. There is a limited number available.
File a verified grade point average (GPA) form along with your SAT scores with the California Student Aid Commission no later than March 2. GPA Verification Form *IMPORTANT: Please read below for additional information regarding the filing of the GPA verification form with regards to homeschooling.
Be sure to make a copy for your records and obtain a Certificate of Mailing (additional fee required) from the Post Office so that you can verify the date you mailed your forms.
PLEASE READ BELOW REGARDING THE GPA VERIFICATION FORM
CAL GRANT VERIFICATION
We are not an accredited school and therefore need to follow different procedures for the CAL Grant and the GPA Verification Form. Instead of the normal way of filing, home schooled students file the form with GED, ACT or SAT scores attached. Please read the following for more detailed directions or go to the website www.csac.ca.gov
I am home schooled; can I get a Cal Grant?
If you are home schooled, you can still qualify for the Cal Grant Entitlement Program or the other programs available through the Commission.
I am home schooled how do I get my GPA verified?
If you are home schooled or attend a charter school, you must submit your SAT, ACT or GED test scores.
Submitting a test score instead of a GPA: complete questions 1-9, sign the form and attach a photo copy of the testing organization’s score report and mail by the deadline to Commission. TRANSCRIPTS AND DIPLOMAS WILL NOT BE PROCESSED.
The results from the GED, SAT or ACT tests must be submitted in lieu of a GPA if:
You participated in a home schooling program or attended an unaccredited high school
Recap: Complete questions 1-9, Fill in the bubble for Question 8 "Test Scores" and attach a copy of your ACT/SAT or GED scores to the form. The deadline (postmark) to send the form with a copy of the test scores to the Student Aid Commission is March 2.
You will need to arrange to have the GED or ACT/SAT test scheduled several months prior to the March 2nd deadline to insure your test scores are available by March 2nd. To find the ACT/SAT testing dates please visit their websites.
The scores and the GPA form must be postmarked and sent to the Commission by the March 2nd deadline.
The FAFSA form is available on Oct. 1 for the next school year. The 2020–21 FAFSA form asks for 2018 tax information. You should complete and submit a new FAFSA each year you are in school. And be sure to submit your Renewal FAFSA as soon after October 1 (the new, earlier due date) each year as possible. Often, state and school grants and loans are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis
Why do I need to start so early?
State and college based financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Filing the form now ensures you won't miss any college deadlines, and when you file the FAFSA it will also submit your information to your state aid programs. State funding is limited so you want to file early. Some programs state that funds are awarded until funds are depleted. Unfortunately, many students miss out on financial aid opportunities because they fail to meet the filing deadlines. The best financial aid awards (those heavy on grants and lighter on loans) are generally given to the earliest applicants.
Why all the questions on the FAFSA?
FAFSA enters your responses to the FAFSA questions into a formula from the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The result is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.
What Is an EFC?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of how much you and your family will be able to contribute toward your educational expenses for one academic year. It is calculated according to a formula established by law and is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Your state, and the schools you list, may also use some of your responses. They will determine if you may be eligible for school or state aid, in addition to federal aid.
How do I find out what my EFC is?
Three to four weeks after families mail in their FAFSA, they will receive a multi-part document called a Student Aid Report (SAR). If you recorded an e-mail address on your paper FAFSA or you filed your FAFSA online, you will receive an e-mail that links you to your SAR online.
The SAR lists the information you reported on your FAFSA and will tell you your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). 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. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive and help them to put together a package of financial aid designed to help you meet your need.
The information will also be sent electronically to the schools you designate and your home state’s scholarship agency (as well as the state agency of every school on your list).
Review your SAR very carefully. If there are any mistakes (for instance, if a $100 has become a $1,000) send the correction back to the processor immediately. It is now up to the college financial aid administrator to take all this information, determine your eligibility for student aid, and develop your financial aid package.
How much aid do I get?
Your EFC, along with the rest of your FAFSA information, is made available to all the schools you list on the FAFSA. The schools use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school's cost of attendance (which can include living expenses), as determined by the school. Cost of attendance minus EFC equals financial need.
If you or your family have special circumstances that should be taken into account, contact your
college's financial aid office. Some examples of special circumstances are: unusual medical or dental expenses or a large change in income from last year to this year.
If your FAFSA qualifies you for federal grants, loans or work-study programs, that money is disbursed directly to your school. With grants or loans, your school will apply that money toward your tuition, fees and (if you live on campus) room and board. Your school will notify you each time money is disbursed to cover expenses, typically twice a year. Any money that is left over will be paid to you to use for other expenses associated with school. You may be able to choose how that money is paid to you: via check, cash, a credit to your bank account or a prepaid debit or ATM card.
If you qualify for a work-study program, your school will pay you directly unless you request that money be applied to your student account.
Get a FSA ID
Creating your FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA® form only takes a few minutes and could prevent processing delays. (Plus, you can’t use the myStudentAid mobile app at all without an FSA ID, so you’ll need to create it before filling out the FAFSA form on the app.)
Use your FSA ID to start your FAFSA form. When you create your FSA ID, be careful to enter your name and Social Security number exactly as they appear on your Social Security card. Then, if you go to fafsa.gov to start your application and indicate that you are the student, you will be given the option to enter your FSA ID or to enter your “identifiers” (your name, date of birth, and SSN).
If you log in with your FSA ID, certain information (including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth) will be automatically loaded into your application. This will prevent you from running into a common error that occurs when your verified FSA ID information doesn’t match the information on your FAFSA form. Additionally, you won’t have to provide your FSA ID again to sign your FAFSA form electronically or to use the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) if you’re eligible.
The student is the one applying for financial aid, so be sure it’s the student entering his or her FSA ID in the “I am the student” tab. Do not start the FAFSA form by supplying the parent’s FSA ID.
When do I get the aid?
Any financial aid you are eligible to receive will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is paid to you for your other expenses. If you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you may receive it for only one school for the same period of enrollment.
Where can I get more information on student aid?
The best place for information about student financial aid is the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. The financial aid administrator can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources.
You can also check out these resources:
• Federal Student Aid
• The Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID
• (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913
• Your local library's reference section
There may be information available from foundations, religious organizations, community organizations and civic groups, as well as organizations related to your field of interest, such as the American Medical Association or American Bar Association. Check with your parents' employers or unions to see if they award scholarships or have tuition payment plans.
Be wary of organizations that charge a fee to submit your application, or to find you money
for school. Some are legitimate and some are scams. Generally, any help you pay for you can get for free from your school or the U.S. Department of Education.
Following are some helpful tips to getting aid without delay!
Important: Read the form!
Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, like your Social Security Number or
your date of birth. But many require you to read the instructions to make sure you answer the
question correctly. Words like "household," "investments" and even "parent" all have common
meanings, but are specifically defined for purposes of federal student aid. So be sure to read the
instructions carefully. Answer each question unless the FAFSA specifically tells you it’s a step you can skip.
Deadlines for aid from your state, from your school, and from private sources tend to be
much earlier than deadlines for federal aid. To make sure that any financial aid package your
school offers you will contain aid from as many sources as possible, apply as soon as you can
after January 1. However, to actually receive aid, your school must have your correct, complete information before your last day of enrollment in the school year. So it is important to apply early to make sure you leave enough time for your school to receive your information and to make any necessary corrections. More information about deadlines can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1314/pdf/Deadlines.pdf
Be as accurate as possible.
When completing the FAFSA, be as accurate as you can. Mistakes will cause your application to be returned. If a question or two seems confusing, call the federal student aid hot line at 800-4-FED-AID
List your colleges
You fill out the FAFSA only once regardless of how many colleges you’re considering. List the colleges that are to receive the processed data and indicate their housing plans at each - Do you intend to live on campus, off campus, or with parent? This helps aid administrators better determine their cost of attendance.
To make sure your data goes to the correct school, record each school’s federal school code. You’ll find these codes online (www.fafsa.ed.gov).
Keep copies for your records
Make sure that when you file any form or application that you keep a copy of the form you are submitting for your records. Also record that date that you submit the forms or applications. Usually when filing online you are provided an opportunity to review and print a copy of what you are doing – please do so! If you mail your form, mail it using delivery confirmation. You then have a record of when your form was mailed and confirmation that it was delivered. Keep good records like this is useful if any questions come up about when your forms were submitted.
Is there more to my story?
The answers on the forms don’t always completely reflect the financial situation in your household. If there are other situations that can affect your ability to pay for your child's education such as supporting an aging parent, already paying for private school education for siblings, unusually high medical bills, lay-offs from work? These sorts of situations can affect your ability to assist financially. If this is the case in your house let the colleges know about the situation through a special circumstance notice. Colleges have the ability to alter your EFC based upon special situations. It doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Ask: Do I need additional forms?
The FAFSA is the one application for federal student aid. Many schools and states rely solely upon this information. However, your school or state may require you to fill out additional forms.
An additional form needs to be completed for a Cal Grant. These additional forms may have deadlines that are earlier than the federal student aid deadlines, so be sure to check with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.