Start your financial aid research by talking to your high school and career counselors. Colleges offer different packages and amounts of financial aid. Compare the offers of financial aid from various schools. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate with a college of your choice for a better offer.
You can find college specific financial aid information on the websites of colleges you are interested in.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
To apply for financial aid, you have to fill out the FAFSA or other required forms prior to deadline dates. Colleges determine what type of financial aid you are entitled to as well as your family’s contribution based on the FAFSA. The FAFSA can be filled out online.
College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE
The PROFILE is an online application that collects information used by certain colleges and scholarship programs to award institutional aid funds.
California Student Aid Commission
The Cal Grant and Cash for College programs provide resources to both help students and their families understand the college application process in California, and pay for college. The Commission is required to determine if an institution of higher education is eligible to participate in the Cal Grant Program.
I Can Afford College
Learn about financial aid opportunities that can help you attend a California Community College.
U.S. Department of Education Student Aid
There are three basic types of federal student aid: grants, loans, and work-study.
Grants do not have to be repaid. Sometimes they are referred to as gift aid. Generally, grants are for undergraduate students, and the grant amount is based on the student's financial need, as determined by the information reported on the FAFSA, cost of attendance, and enrollment status. There are four federal grants:
Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH)
- Grant Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant Loans are borrowed money that must be repaid with interest.
- Federal loan programs allow undergraduate and graduate students to borrow money to cover their education expenses.
- Parents also may borrow to pay education expenses for dependent undergraduate students. Generally, loan amounts depend on the student's year in school, cost of attendance, and the amount of other aid received. Some loans are based on the student's financial need and others are not.
There are five federal loans:
- Federal Perkins
- Federal Stafford
- PLUS Loan for ParentsPLUS
- Graduate and Professional Degree Students
Work-study lets students earn money while enrolled in school to help pay for education expenses.