Applying for Financial Aid

If you are not certain that you and your family can afford to pay college expenses, you should apply for student financial aid. Almost all students qualify for some form of student aid, although for some students, the aid is limited to unsubsidized loans. It is important that you apply as early as possible to ensure that you are considered for all programs for which you might be eligible and before campuses award the limited available grant funds to other, earlier applicants. Applying as early as possible will also increase the likelihood that you will receive an earlier notice regarding your eligibility thus enhancing your ability to make an informed decision about your choice of colleges.

How to Apply

Most students will apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students without lawful immigration status, DACA, U-Visa holders should apply for financial aid using the California Dream Application (CADA).

There is no charge for filing the FAFSA or the CADA. The FAFSA form and the process have been simplified over the years but certain information remains essential in order to ensure that the aid funds are being distributed to qualified students. The FAFSA and CADA collect student (and parent if applicable) personal and financial information. This data is used to determine the student’s eligibility for grants and loans. *NEW* The FAFSA and CADA will now be available on October 1 for students to apply for aid for the next school year. Students will also not need to wait until their (and their parents) taxes are filed to apply for financial aid. For both the FAFSA and the CADA the prior-prior-year taxes will be used.

Students filing the FAFSA are encouraged to use the IRS Data retrieval tool. It transfers yours (and your parent’s) tax information directly from the IRS, making the FAFSA easier to complete. At this time the IRS Data retrieval tool is not available for the CADA.


  • *NEW* The 2017-2018 FAFSA will be available October 1, 2016 and can be signed and submitted that same day
  • *NEW* For your 2017-2018 FAFSA or CADA you will need your (and your parents if applicable) 2015 income and tax information
  • The 2016-2017 FAFSA and CADA are still available
  • If you are applying for financial aid using the FAFSA or CADA for the 2016-2017 school year use your (and your parents if applicable) 2015 income and tax information
  • March 2, 2017 is the priority filing date for applying for financial aid, for the 2017-2018 school year, using the FAFSA or the CADA in the state of California

How to Get Started!

  1. Secure your (and your parents, if applicable) an FSA ID or CA Dream Act ID
  2. Visit www.fafsa.ed.gov
  3. Visit https://dream.csac.ca.gov
  4. Open a www.webgrants4students.org account to track your state financial aid award


Who should apply for financial aid using the California Dream Application?

The California Dream Application (CADA) * is used by students without lawful immigration status who qualify for an AB540 Non-Resident Tuition Waiver to apply for state and institutionally funded financial aid. There is no charge for filing the DREAM application. You can go online directly to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) CA Dream Application.


Students who are eligible to apply for financial aid using the DREAM application must meet the following three requirements to be eligible to file a DREAM application:

1. You have or will have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years
Attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school coursework and attended a combination of elementary, middle, and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years
2. You have or will have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example: passed the GED or California High School Proficiency exam)
3. Be a student who is without lawful immigration status who must file an AB540 Affidavit (California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption Request form) with the college or university stating that you have filed an application to legalize your immigration status, or will file an application as soon as you are eligible to do so

Complete and submit the affidavit to the Admissions and/or Records department at your California college campus

Students applying for financial aid using the DREAM application will be considered for the following State and Institution based financial aid programs:


  • Cal Grant
    • Please Note: You must submit a High School GPA Verification for Cal Grant eligibility prior to the March 2nd deadline
  • State University Grant
  • Middle Class Scholarship
  • EOP Grant
  • Need Based Scholarships


To be considered for financial aid, as a DREAM applicant, it is important to file your DREAM application by the annual priority filing date, March 2. Don't wait to find out if you have been admitted! File the DREAM application every year to be considered for Financial Aid!

*Males applying for financial aid using the California Dream Application must register for Selective Service. See below for more information.


Undergraduates who are California Residents

California residents and eligible AB540 students who will be undergraduates should apply for a Cal Grant administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). Undergraduate applicants who file a FAFSA or CA Dream Application by March 2 must also provide the California Student Aid Commission with a verified GPA by March 2.

Check with your high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office if they submit a GPA on your behalf.

Males Between the Ages of 18 and 25

Male students applying for financial aid using the FAFSA or the CA Dream Application are required to meet the following Selective Service requirements. The federal Military Selective Service Act ("the Act"), requires most males residing in the United State to present themselves for registration with the Selective Service System within thirty days of their eighteenth birthday. Most males between the ages of 18 and 25 must be registered. Males born after December 31, 1959 may be required to submit a statement of compliance with the Act and regulations in order to receive any grant, loan or work assistance under specified provisions of existing federal law. In California, students who fail to register are also ineligible to receive any need-based student grants funded by the state or a public postsecondary institution, including Cal Grant and more. Male students meeting the age requirements above, can register for Selective Service at the time they complete their FAFSA or CA Dream Application.

Selective Service registration forms are also available at any U.S. Post Office, and many high schools have a staff member or teacher appointed as a Selective Service Registrar. If you haven't registered and are required to do so, you can request that information provided on the FAFSA or the CA Dream Application be used to register you with the Selective Service. You can obtain additional information and register online through the Selective Service System's web site. This site also enables you to obtain proof of registration or to provide a change of address to the Selective Service System.



Updated May 2016

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