Graduate Programs

Financial Resources: Applying for Financial Aid

View of students sitting on a lawn in front of a CSU campus buildingApplying 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.

Filing the FAFSA

All applicants for need-based financial aid at CSU campuses must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—the FAFSA.

There is no charge for filing the FAFSA. 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.

Early March is the priority filing date for applying for financial aid at CSU campuses. Even if it is too early to file your FAFSA, you (or your parents) can apply for a PIN—a personal identification number—that enables you to sign in when you file a FAFSA electronically or make corrections, and to access your personal information in various Department of Education systems.

The U.S. Department of Education makes the FAFSA available in several formats on the Internet. FAFSA Express software can be downloaded to your computer for completion, and FAFSA on the Web provides for online completion of the student aid application.

Additional Internet assistance is available in the form of the department's publication, Completing the FAFSA. Questions may also be addressed to counselors at your college or to staff of the financial aid office at any CSU campus.

Filing a Dream Application with the California Student Aid Commission

The DREAM application form 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.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply as a DREAM applicant?

You 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 AND
  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) AND
  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.
When do You Apply?

To be considered for financial aid, as a DREAM applicant, it is important to file you DREAM application by the annual priority filing date, March 2. Do not wait to find out if you have been admitted!

File the DREAM application every year you want to be considered for Financial Aid!

Content Contact:
Tarita Varner

Technical Contact:
Last Update: November 26, 2013