Consider the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as the beginning of any application for federal student aid. Almost everything else in the financial aid spectrum hinges upon this form being completed. Many schools’ financial aid offices won’t even know you exist until you have completed this form. It’s really that important.

If you plan on attending college for the 2018-2019 school year, the FAFSA can be submitted any time between October 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019. However, because of the variation in state and college deadlines, 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.

When you’re ready to complete the FAFSA, you’ll want to have the following items handy:

  • Federal tax return
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security Number
  • Any other pertinent financial documents (e.g. bank statements, investment account information)

Visit fafsa.ed.gov for more information and to begin the FAFSA application.

Federal Aid

Federal Perkins Loan

The Federal Perkins Loan Program is designed to help you pay for your education through long-term low-interest loans. The only requirement for this loan is that you must demonstrate financial need. You can borrow up to 4,000 dollars per year as an undergraduate. No repayment of the loan is required while you are in college. Payment begins 9 months after you leave college, or if your enrollment status falls below half-time. If you join the Armed Services, you can get a deferment. The interest rate over ten years is 5%. To obtain this loan you need to apply through FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant

This grant awards from $100 dollars to $4000 dollars per year if you can demonstrate exceptional financial need and the student does not have to repay the money. These grants are renewable over four years so long as you remain eligible. To obtain this loan you need to apply through FAFSA.

Federal College Work Study

The work study program provides you with a job while attending college. Student’s usually work a limited number of hours per week while college is in session and ensures that the job will not interfere with your academic program. In this program you may work on campus in a number of capacities with various departments. Some off-campus jobs exist. Average earnings during the academic year would usually be 1,500-2,000 dollars. Often, summer jobs are available. To obtain this loan you need to apply through FAFSA.

Pell Grant

The Pell Grant ranges from $200-$4050 and your eligibility is based upon your family’s financial circumstances. Part time students are eligible for Pell Grants, but their award is reduced accordingly. Students must have a social security number to complete this form. Pell Grants can be used at colleges, vocational, technical, business schools, and hospital schools of nursing. To obtain this loan you need to apply through FAFSA.

Federal Stafford Student Loan

This loan is a long term low interest loan offered through the federal government. College freshman may borrow 2,625 per year, sophomores 3,500, juniors 5,500, and seniors 5,500. The loans are interest free until repayment begins. Within six months of finishing college the student must begin to repay the loan or obtain short term deferments. To obtain this loan you need to apply through FAFSA.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

Under this loan program the student does not have to demonstrate financial need for the loan. The Student does however have to pay the interest on the loan while in school.

Visit The US Federal Student Aid Office for more information

State Aid—Cal Grants

Cal Grant A

This grant assists low and middle-income students with tuition and fee costs. Recipients are selected on the basis of financial need and GPA. The minimum program length of study is two years. The assistance ranges up to 2,046 at a CSU, 4,984 at a UC, and up to 9,708 at an independent College or University, based upon financial need. A FAFSA form and GPA verification form are required.

Cal Grant B

This grant provides a living allowance (some tuition and fee assistance) to very low-income students. This award ranges up to 1,551 dollars. A FAFSA and GPA verification form are required. The minimum program length of study is one academic year and when it is renewed beyond the freshman year the grant includes additional tuition and fee awards

Cal Grant C

This grant assists vocational students with their tuition and training costs. Students must be enrolled in a vocational program at a community college, independent college, or a vocational school in a program of study from four to twenty-four months of study in length. Awards range up to 2,592 for tuition and fees; and up to 576 dollars for books, tools, and equipment. A FAFSA form and GPA verification form are required.

Visit the California Student Aid Commission for more info.


Applying for and receiving financial aid is an important part of the college admissions process, that’s why it’s important to look at all of your financial aid options, including scholarships. While we recommend students apply for as many scholarships as they can, it is important to keep in mind that most scholarship money students earn comes directly from their university, and not from outside sources. So the first place you should look for scholarship money is from your school.

That being written, third party scholarships can provide a much needed addition to affording college tuition and additional fees that come with furthering your education. Below, we have several links for various national scholarship websites, please peruse these to find any scholarships that fit your need and situation. In addition, please speak with the guidance department to find any local scholarships, as local scholarships consistently prove to be more easily earned for students.