Financial Assistance for College
Financial aid is money that helps you pay for your postsecondary education. The financial assistance can come in the form of grants, loans, work-study, and/or scholarships. You may be eligible for some or all and typically your financial aid award is a mix of these.
TYPES OF AID
A grant is money from the federal government that does NOT have to be repaid as long as you meet all obligations. Examples of when you may have to pay back a grant are: you drop out before 60% of the semester is over, you go from full-time to part-time during that year, or you receive the TEACH grant (provided to future teachers) but do not complete your service obligation
A grant is money from the federal government that does NOT have to beLOAN
A loan in money that you borrow, and MUST be paid back with interest. This means that you will pay back the full amount you borrow, plus a percentage of your remaining balance.
For example, if you borrow $2,000 and there is 5% annual interest. After a year, your total amount owed would be: the $2,000 you borrowed + $100 (because 5% of $2,000 is $100). The $100 in this example is the interest. If you do not make any payments towards the loan, the next year you will owe $2,100 + $105 (because 5% of $2,100 is $105).
The types of loans you may be offered include:
Subsidized Loan- This is for students who are considered financially “in need” using FAFSA calculations. With subsidized loans, the federal government pays your interest as long as you are in school at least part-time, for the first six months after you leave school, and/or during a period of deferment (meaning postponing payment which you have to discuss with the loaning agency).
This means that if you borrow $2,000 (as long as you continue to meet the requirements above) the federal government will pay the interest, and you will still owe only the $2,000 you borrowed. once you no longer meet the requirements, you are responsible for paying the interest.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan-This is available to students and not based on financial need. With unsubsidized loans, you are responsible for paying the interest at all times, including while still in school.
NOTE: If you are taking out loans, find out if they are subsidized/unsubsidized and what the interest rate is. Also, make sure that you make payments as recommended or more if possible, otherwise you may end up paying much more than you expected. repaid as long as you meet all obligations. Examples of when you may have to pay back a grant are: you drop out before 60% of the semester is over, you go from full-time to part-time during that year, or you receive the TEACH grant (provided to future teachers) but do not complete your service obligation
Federal Work-study is money made available to your college to employ you part-time. As a student, you must seek out and apply to work study jobs on campus. You will be paid for the hours you work, but cannot exceed the amount awarded to you (unless your college can pay your wage after you have used all of your work-study funds). Typical work study on campus jobs are: tutors, library assistants, fitness center positions, computer lab/IT, research assistants, tour guides, department assistants, and many others.
A scholarship is free money that may be offered to you by your college or outside sources. You may be eligible based on your financial need, grades/test scores, talent or athletics, or area of study. You should contact your college’s financial aid office and ask if they have scholarships available and how to apply. You can also apply to local scholarships meant for students in your area/from your high school; ask your high school counselor about scholarships. You can also find scholarships online. They require you to fill out applications and have varying deadlines. Companies like Dell, Coca Cola, Burger King, and many others have large scholarships you can apply to, though be sure to read the eligibility requirements. Make sure that you are eligible, keep deadlines in mind, and ensure your application is complete before submitting. You can also search for scholarships depending on your identities (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, first generation, undocumented, etc.), college attending, and area of study. Even, if you are not eligible for federal financial aid, you may be eligible for outside scholarships. It is good practice to start researching scholarships early (suggested to start in your junior year, though you can start even earlier!), since there are various scholarships you can apply to beginning the summer between your junior and senior year.
Warning: There should be no cost to submit a scholarship application; if there is, it is most likely a scam.
Financial Aid ApplicaTIONS
What is FAFSA?
In order to see if you are eligible for financial aid, students must complete the official FAFSA application. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is FREE to fill out and submit. Many states and colleges use the information from this application to determine how much aid and what types of aid you qualify for. This financial aid is meant to help you pay for college (tuition, fees, room/board, books, and more). It opens every year on October 1st. It is best to apply as early as possible to ensure that your colleges receive your information on time and because certain aid may be awarded on a first-come first- serve basis. Also, make sure to note your colleges' FAFSA deadlines so you submit the FAFSA on time. This is also a yearly process, you will have to complete the FAFSA every year to continue to receive financial aid. Here are the items you will need to fill out the FAFSA.
The California Dream Act Application is a significant step in the financial aid process. You use the California Dream Act Application to apply for California state financial aid, such as UC Grants, State University Grants, California Promise Grant and Cal Grants. In addition, many colleges use information from the Dream Act Application to award private scholarships.
Undocumented students, including DACA students are ineligible for federal student aid, but may still be eligible for state or their college's financial aid, as well as private scholarships. You should contact your college's financial aid office to find out if you should still complete the FAFSA for their own financial aid calculations.
A social security number (SSN) is needed to complete the FAFSA. Therefore, if you do not have a SSN you will be unable to submit FAFSA online, but some colleges will accept a signed paper form.
NOTE: If your parents are undocumented, enter 00s in the fields that ask for their SSN. (It may be necessary to submit a couple times before a gets accepted. Might get pinged as an error initially, but this is correct). At the end they must sign with a pin tied to their SSN. They will be unable to do this, instead print it and have them sign, then mail the forms as soon as possible.
Undocumented Student Resources