Financial Aid

Financial Aid (FAFSA)


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA) is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid (including the Pell Grant, Federal student loans and Federal Work-Study). Despite its name, the application is not for a single federal program, being rather the gateway of consideration for:

  • the nine federal student-aid programs

  • the 605 state aid programs

  • most of the institutional aid available

You should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible beginning October 1st . Click here to apply

By completing the FAFSA you are applying for Federal and State Grants, Federal Student Loans and Federal Work Study. The Board Of Governor's Waiver (BOGW/Fee Waiver) is also included in this application but for California Community Colleges only.

Do you know if you qualify for financial aid? If not, Visit the FASFA help site

Upon completion of your FAFSA you will be given an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. This index number is used to calculate your eligibility for financial aid. Typically, the lower the EFC the more financial aid you may qualify for.


For a general estimate as to how much a particular college usually costs the average student, use this free online calculator provided by College Board to estimate college expenses at specific colleges.


Advice for students and parents on changes for the fall college year of 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CA Dream Act Application (CADAA):

  1. Apply in Fall - The 2020-2021 FAFSA and the CADAA will open on October 1, 2020. This allows students to apply three months earlier than in the past.

  2. Applying is Easier - Completing forms for both the FAFSA and the CADAA is easier because applicants will provide income and tax information filed for tax year 2019 (they don't have to estimate). Many students and parents will find completing the FAFSA easier since they will be able to provide income-tax information directly from the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) that is linked to the FAFSA.*

Info on the DRT

*Please note the CADAA does not support the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Unchanged: The priority filing deadline is still March 2 for both applications. Students may receive information regarding Cal Grant eligibility in the fall, but will still receive their UC financial aid offer(s) after notification of admission in the spring.

What students and parents can begin doing before October 1:

  1. Secure a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID here for FAFSA applicants or here for a CA Dream Act ID for CADAA applicants.

  2. To attend a FREE Cash for College workshop for hands-on application assistance click here.

After submitting a FAFSA or CADAA students should open an account to check the status of their Cal Grant eligibility here.

Click here for more information on FAFSA Changes for 2020-2021.


Are you a foster youth?

If you are or were in foster care and have not yet reached your 22nd birthday you may be eligible to receive the California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth. You will need to complete the FAFSA and the California Chafee Grant application. Access the California Chafee Grant application.


The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and the California Department of Education (CDE) understand that, in light of recent events, there could be confusion regarding the California Dream Act program, which allows certain undocumented and out-of-state students (“Dreamers”) to receive state financial aid while attending colleges in California. The California Dream Act is a state law, separate and distinct from the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Regardless of what happens at the federal level, state financial aid for Dreamers remains legal in California. A Dreamer student does not need to be DACA-certified to be eligible for a public education or state financial aid. Losing DACA status will not affect most state financial aid.


Do you know a student who is undocumented and wants to go to college? Have you heard of the term AB540? Am I AB540? California Assembly Bill 540 (AB540) passed in 2001 permits qualified immigrant students to pay in-state tuition.

What is AB540:

  • Attended a CA high school for 3 or more years;

  • Graduated from a CA high school or attained the equivalent

  • File an affidavit with your college or university stating that you have or intend to file an application to legalize your immigration status, if applicable.

  • Are AB540 students eligible for FAFSA?

  • No AB540 students can NOT apply to FAFSA

What types of aid are available for AB540?

Become your own advocate:

  • AB540 students need to become advocates of their own education in order to gain access to networks, resources, services and opportunities. How can AB540 students become involved?

  • Join your campus AB540 support group

  • Learn about political issues that affect your status and get involved

  • Write your Legislators, Congressmen/woman asking them to support the Federal DREAM ACT

  • Attend AB540 Conferences/Summits in order to build your AB540 Network

  • Volunteer in the community

  • Organize Fundraisers for AB540 Scholarships

  • Research AB540 Friendly Scholarships and share with other AB540 Students.

  • Coordinate Informational Parent/Student/Community Workshops in order to make others aware of AB540.


The first step in determining your eligibility for college financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Just answer a few questions in this interactive tool, and we’ll help get you ready to complete the FAFSA application with tips and guidance based on your personal situation.

FAFSA Assistant


What is a Cal Grant?

A Cal Grant is money for college you don’t have to pay back. To qualify, you must meet the eligibility and financial requirements as well as any minimum GPA requirements. Cal Grants can be used at any University of California, California State University or California Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California.

There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA responses, your verified Cal Grant GPA, the type of California colleges you list on your FAFSA and whether you’re a recent high school graduate. To learn more about the qualifications, go to

Cal Grant A

  • will help pay for tuition and fees at four-year colleges

  • award amounts vary by type of college

  • has a GPA requirement. If you’re applying using your high school GPA, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA; if applying using your college GPA, you must have at least a 2.4 GPA

  • requires that your course of study leads directly to an associate or bachelor’s degree, or qualifies you for transfer from a community college to a bachelor’s degree program

Cal Grant B

  • provides a living allowance, in addition to tuition and fee assistance after the first year, at a two- or four-year college

  • pays most first-year students a living allowance only, which may be used to pay living expenses, books, supplies and transportation, as well as tuition and fees

  • when renewed or awarded beyond your first year, you’ll receive the living allowance as well as a tuition and fee award

  • requires at least a 2.0 GPA

Interested in a technical, vocational or career education?

Cal Grant C

  • assists with the costs of a technical or career education

  • may provides for books, tools, equipment, tuition and fees if you’ll be attending a school other than a California Community College (community colleges don’t charge tuition and your fees will be waived as a Cal Grant recipient)

  • is available for up to two years

Step 1: The Application

Complete and submit the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application by March 2*of each year.

  • If you are a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident (green card), or other eligible non-citizen, you should file the FAFSA. For the definition of eligible non-citizen see the description of "Citizenship Status".

  • If you are not a citizen, but attended a California high school for at least three years or graduated early from a California high school with the equivalent of at least three years of credits and attended three years of elementary and secondary school, graduated from a California high school or the equivalent, and are or will be attending an accredited California college or university, you should file the California Dream Act Application.

Step 2: Certified GPA:

Cal Grant/GPA Verification: La Quinta High School will electronically send your GPA to the California Student Aid Commission if we have your social security number on file. Check with your counselor to make sure we have your social security number.

Tips for Filing:

To avoid issues later, complete your application early.

  • Need help completing the FAFSA, California Dream Act Application, or other forms? See your high school counselor.

  • If you or your parents won’t file taxes before the March 2nd deadline, don’t wait to file your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application. You can still submit the application based on estimated financial information, then come back later after you have filed taxes and update your application. The Student Aid Commission cannot accept late FAFSAs or California Dream Act Applications for Cal Grant consideration.

  • The FAFSA is the application for federal student aid like Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), TEACH Grant, and federal student loans as well as state financial aid like Cal Grants. Most institutions also use the FAFSA for institutional need-based financial aid.

  • The California Dream Act Application is the application non-citizens will use to apply for High School Entitlement Cal Grant A and B awards, Community College Transfer Entitlement A and B awards, and Cal Grant C. The Dream Application is also used for institutional Dream Act financial aid and California Community Colleges Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOG fee waiver).

  • Out-of-State Students - In most cases, Cal Grants are only for California residents —those who are or will be a California resident for at least one year by the application deadline. If you’re under 18 years of age, your residency is determined by your parent's state of legal residence.