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Financial Aid for College

fin aid

Paying for College...

Financial Aid is a general term encompassing all different sources of money to help you pay for your education in college and some trade schools. While most colleges expect you and your family to contribute toward your education, financial aid can help narrow the gap between your resources and the costs. The following types of financial aid (usually distinguished between need-based or non-need based aid) are available from the federal government, state government, colleges/institutions and private sources:

  • GRANTS: Money you don't have to repay and are typically based on financial need (per your FAFSA or CSS Profile Form - see below). They are given by the federal/state government and colleges/universities.
  • SCHOLARSHIPS:  Free money for college and usually based on your area of study/merit or affiliations, such as good grades, high test scores, athletic, musical or other special talents, leadership, community service, a community you belong to, and sometimes financial need. They are given by local, state or national private organizations such as various unit PTAs, WHS Alumni Foundation, Afro-American Cultural & Historical Society, South Bay Chinese Service Club, Niles Rotary Club, Lam Research, Horatio Alger Association, United Negro College Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, etc.
  • WORK STUDY:  Federal aid program that allows you to earn money, usually not more than a few thousand dollars during a school year, through certain jobs on or off campus to help pay for your education. You can find related job postings at the Career Center of the college or university.
  • LOANS:  Borrowed money with interest that you must pay back. Be cautious of private loans with high interest rates. It's recommended not to take on more than $10k in student debt per school year to earn a Bachelor's degree. Otherwise, public universities or two years at a community college first is a wiser financial option.


Financial Aid Forms

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Important Due Date: MARCH 2

Deadline to:

* Apply for Cal Grant

* Apply for California Dream Act (CADAA)

* Priority FAFSA Application Deadline


Senior students and parents/guardians: October 1st was the first day you could submit your Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can use the same form for the CSUs, UCs, community colleges, and private colleges/universities. Financial aid is first come, first served, so make sure you submit your application as soon as you have your college list narrowed down (usually in November) and for the correct academic year. Typically, submitting the FAFSA application before December 31st would be ideal, unless you are applying Early Action (with November 1st or 15th deadlines) to some private universities in which they may require the FAFSA sooner, so double check on the university's website.

The first step to determine if you qualify for financial aid for college is to complete the FAFSA between October 1st and March 2nd of senior year in high school. This is a detailed financial form that your parent will need to contribute information to as well, unless you are considered an "independent". Check here: Dependency Status. FAFSA is produced by the US Department of Education and processed by Federal Student Aid Programs (and then shared with the California Student Aid Commission and the colleges/universities/trade schools on your list). It must be filed every year while you need aid in college. It is suggested by financial aid offices that you list these colleges/universities in order of expense starting with the most expensive (such as a private/public California university for Cal Grant calculations), regardless of preference, and include a community college as well.

In order to open up as many funding avenues as possible, it is strongly advised that you complete the FAFSA, even if you decide to attend a community college, which you can opt to use the funds for or save them until later for transferring to the CSU or UC. It's like an insurance policy because your financial need may change from year to year or semester to semester. Some colleges may not offer merit (non need-based) aid to students who have not filled out the FAFSA, so check with individual colleges to be sure. Additionally, some private/outside scholarships require the FAFSA, too.

Beginning October 1st, 2022 per California Assembly Bill 469, local educational agencies including our school district and high school are required to have graduating senior students and their parents/guardians complete a FAFSA or CADAA form. Students/parents/guardians may complete an the FUSD's FAFSA/CADAA Opt-out Form if they do not plan to submit the FAFSA/CADAA. More information on this will be provided soon.

For prospective students who will attend California Community Colleges such as Ohlone College, your FAFSA/Cal Grant application deadline is September 2nd, but it's best to submit it by March 2nd to qualify for the Ohlone Promise Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship worth $3600 over two years.


Estimate Your Federal Student Aid

Before you complete the FAFSA form, the Federal Student Aid Estimator can help you understand your options to pay for college or career school by providing an early estimate of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and eligibility for federal student aid.

Federal Student Aid Estimator (~10 minutes)



Begin Your FAFSA Form

In order to complete the FAFSA, the high school senior student and a parent will individually need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID # first, which you can get here but may take a day or two to process: Create Account | Federal Student Aid


If you have trouble getting your FSA ID, here is the CSAC User Reference Guide.


How to Complete Your FAFSA

Besides the Ohlone College FAFSA video recording provided on the left menu bar, here is another recording from the Coalition App for comparison:

Completing the FAFSA | Coalition for College (

In Spanish:

Plática con expertos: Completando la FAFSA | Coalition for College (


After the FAFSA: What Happens Next?

Please see the official Federal Student Aid website.



California Dream Act Application (CADAA):  AB540 Requirements

This California financial aid form, an alternative to FAFSA, is for undocumented students in our state. A student who meets all of the following requirements shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), and the California Community College (CCC) systems:

(1) Attended high school in California for three or more years,

(2) Graduated from a California high school, passed the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE), or earned a General Equivalency Diploma (GED),

(3) Enrolled in an accredited and qualified California college or university, and

(4) If applicable in the case of a person without lawful immigration status, the filing of an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so.

See further:

California Dream Act FAQ's for Students and Parents.PDF

California Nonresident Tuition Exemption - California Student Aid Commission

Financial Aid and Undocumented Students (

March 2nd is the deadline for FINANCIAL AID from the state of California (Cal Grant & CADAA)!


The Cal Grant is a California-specific financial aid allocation that does not need to be paid back. There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. The Grant is based on your information from the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application (CADAA), applying by the deadline, and meeting all eligibility, financial, and minimum GPA requirements of either program. You do not need to complete a different application form besides either one just mentioned. After submitting the FAFSA/CADAA, create a login at WebGrants4Students to check your Cal Grant status.


For senior students planning to attend a California college or university, your GPA along with your California student ID number have been sent by our school district in September to the Cal Grant program for verification. No longer will students need to individually submit a Cal Grant GPA Verification Form. However, if you are a new senior student at this school since September or the start of the academic year, please complete and sign this Cal Grant GPA Verification Form and give it to Mrs. Ponssen in the College & Career Center, room F243, so she can submit your information separately by March 2nd to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC).


Questions from students about Cal Grants and answers from CSAC:

1) We were told the first 10 schools in the FAFSA application must at least have a UC/CSU university or CA community college in order to be eligible for some aid. Please confirm and elaborate.

For the student to be processed for Cal Grant consideration, the application must have at least one California college (UC/CSU/Community College/Private CA College) for the CSAC system to check if the student could be eligible for Cal Grant. The California school does not need to be listed first. However, the first California school listed will be the school the CSAC system uses to process for Cal Grant eligibility. Please see example list of schools below. In this example, the CSAC system will process the student for Cal Grant using CSU, Sacramento. The student will see what they could be eligible to receive in Cal Grant if they attend CSU, Sacramento. However, if the student then decides to go to Folsom Lake College, the student will need to update their school of attendance in the WebGrants 4 Students portal. The system will re-process the student for Cal Grant eligibility at Folsom Lake College.


Example School List for a student:

  1. Harvard
  2. CSU, Sacramento
  3. Folsom Lake College
  4. Kansas State University


2) How do the students know that all the 10 schools have received/been notified about FAFSA submission? Is there a way the student can check?

When a student has been accepted to the school, they can check their student portal and financial aid account to verify the financial aid office has their application on file. They should also receive a financial aid award letter after they have been accepted.


3) We have been told students need to wait for a couple days before resubmitting the second set of 10 schools. What would be the waiting period before submitting the second set?

I tend to recommend students wait one week from the date they submit their application before logging back in and deleting the 10 schools and adding the 2nd set. After they receive an email from the Department of Education that their FAFSA has been fully processed (usually a few days later) that is also a sign that they can most likely log back in and safely add/remove schools.


4) Must the second set of 10 schools have at least one UC/CSU/CCC school? What is the criteria?

No, the 2nd set of 10 schools does not need to have a California college. As long as a California college is reported at some point, the CSAC system will process for Cal Grant consideration.

(The Q&A section above is courtesy of Mrs. Ng, MSJHS.)


UC Financial Aid Calculators

These calculators provide a quick and easy way to estimate the amounts and types of financial aid you might receive, based on your personal information, from each UC campus. The values produced are not the actual amounts you will be offered and are subject to the availability of funding.

Estimate your aid | UC Admissions (



Calculate the Net Price for Private or Public Colleges Before Applying

Each college or university has a different calculation on the net price (after financial aid) that a student/family has to pay per academic year. Estimate the net cost to attend a certain college, especially private ones, before you invest the time, energy, and resources into applying. If you are from a low-income or single-parent family and have good grades, you might be pleasantly surprised. You can also look at the Common Data Set of each college by school year to see how much need-based and non-need based aid it gave that year.

Net Price Calculator Center (



CSS Profile for Institutional Financial Aid:

The CSS Profile form is required by some colleges, usually private ones, to provide them with more detailed information about the financial status of the student's family so that the colleges can make a more informed decision about the need-based financial aid they can offer you. Depending on your situation and the particular college, the Profile form might be an addition to the FAFSA. See Home – CSS Profile | College Board. Once you have submitted the Profile form, the university, through the College Board, might ask you to upload your tax and other financial documents via a secured site called IDOC. See here: Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) Overview | Slides (



Saving for college... | An Introduction to 529 Plans

Scholarshare 529 College Savings Plan:

Students and their families are encouraged to save money for college expenses. ScholarShare, the state-administered 529 college savings plan, provides families with a tax-advantaged way to deposit after-tax contributions to save for future college expenses.  Earnings, if any, are tax-deferred and disbursements, when used for tuition and other qualified higher education expenses, are federal and state tax-free. You can open an account with as little as $15 when setting up automatic investments and choose from a number of low-cost investment options that allow you to watch the investment grow over time. The money can then be used at any accredited college nationwide as well as many international schools.


Financial Aid Websites:

California Community Colleges -

Federal Government Student Aid

Government Loans for Education

Expected Family Contribution Calculator (

UC Davis Financial Aid and Scholarships Handbook


Financial Literacy Websites and Articles:

Grown-up Stuff Explained 75 Topics 18 Year-olds Should Know (free financial and life skills book) (with permission from the author, Witty Ryter)

Paying for College Unit | Khan Academy

Personal Finance | Life skills | Khan Academy

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: Building Wealth

US Securities & Exchange Commission: Saving and Investing

Ranking 4,500 Colleges by ROI (2022) - CEW Georgetown

Stafford Loan: Another Name For Federal Direct Loans – Forbes Advisor

Parent PLUS Loans: What You Need to Know | Student Loans | US News


Students on Visas:

Eligibility for Non-U.S. Citizens | Federal Student Aid

Immigration-Statuses.pdf (

The process for determining residency | UC tuition (