The Golden State gives college students many opportunities to pay for their tuition.
In fact, California is one of three states that provides more grant aid to its low-income residents than the Federal Pell Grant, according to a 2017 University of California, Berkeley study. The average student with financial need in California receives close to $5,000 per year.
Here’s how college students can access this honey pot of California grants.
How to apply for California grants
Unlike many scholarships, grants are typically need-based. To prove your financial need for California grants, also called Cal Grants, you’ll need to complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the state’s Dream Act Application (DAA) by March 2 of each year.
The DAA allows noncitizens, including some undocumented immigrants, to apply for Cal Grants, state financial aid, and qualify for in-state tuition rates.
In addition to filing the FAFSA or DAA annually, you’ll also need to submit your high school or community college transcripts via the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) no later than March 2. Although they’re need-based, most California grants require you to maintain a certain GPA.
If you miss the March 2 deadline, and you’re a California Community College student, you can submit your transcripts by Sept. 2. This allows you to be considered for a September Cal Grant, though there’s only a limited number available.
Other eligibility rules for citizens and noncitizens applying for California grants include:
- You haven’t graduated from college yet.
- You haven’t defaulted on a student loan.
- You haven’t been jailed.
You also need to enroll at least half time at an eligible school. Make sure to check the list of eligible schools provided by the CSAC.
Find out more below about California grants you can apply for.
4 California grants for college available today
At $120 per credit, California’s public colleges are among the nation’s cheapest places to study. California grants could drop your costs even further.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, Cal Grant recipients could receive up to:
- $12,630 at a University of California campus
- $5,742 at a California State University campus
- $9,084 at independent colleges
Here are the full details on California’s grant programs.
1. Cal Grant High School Entitlement Award
California grants in this category are guaranteed to high school seniors and recent high school graduates who meet the requirements. Depending on your income level, you could be eligible for one of these multiyear grants:
- Cal Grant A: Low- to middle-income students could use this award for tuition at a two- or four-year school in the state. You need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain eligible.
- Cal Grant B: Low-income students enrolled in an eligible program can apply for this grant. You need at least a 2.0 GPA to receive it. The grant includes an annual award of $1,672 for living expenses.
You can review income ceilings for the 2017-2018 school year here.
2. Cal Grant Transfer Entitlement Award
This California grant is for any community college student transferring to a four-year school in the state. Your income level is the primary factor affecting which grant type you could receive, either a Cal Grant A or Cal Grant B.
Cal Grant B recipients receive an additional award for living expenses that go beyond tuition and academic fees.
Regardless of your income level, you’ll need to maintain a 2.4 GPA to be eligible. The average Transfer Entitlement Award recipient in the 2015-2016 academic year had a 3.11 GPA, according to the CSAC.
3. Cal Grant Competitive Awards
For students who don’t receive the awards listed above, you could earn grants via the Cal Grant Competitive Awards.
When you apply for one of these grants, your application is scored based on information in your FAFSA, such as the education level of your parents. It’s also dependent on your GPA.
You could score one of the following three grant types:
- Cal Grant A: Be a low- to middle-income student and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Cal Grant B: Be a low-income student and sport at least a 2.0 GPA. This grant comes with an annual award ($1,672) for living expenses.
- Cal Grant C: Be a low- to middle-income student and attend a certificate or associate’s degree program for a high-demand career. You could receive up to $2,462 for tuition and fees, plus as much as $1,904 to help save on textbooks and supplies.
Cal Grants A and B in the Competitive Awards category are for FAFSA filers only. Undocumented immigrants without a Social Security number who meet other requirements could complete the DAA to be eligible for Cal Grant C.
4. California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth
If you are or were in California’s foster care system, you could receive up to $5,000 annually for career or technical training or college. In fact, all that’s required is that you spent a single day in foster care between the ages of 16 and 18. You also need to be younger than 22 at the time of your application.
Unlike other California grants, you could use the $5,000 at schools in other states. You could also apply the funds to nontuition expenses, such as transportation, rent, and childcare.
To be considered, complete the FAFSA or DAA application. Then fill out the Chafee Grant application online.
Use California grants to help pay for college
If you live and plan to attend college in California, you’re in luck. The state has one of the country’s more generous grant offerings.
In fact, you’re guaranteed to receive a Cal Grant if you meet income requirements. But if you don’t, you could still rack up grant aid via the state’s Competitive Awards. Your high school or community college GPA could mean the difference between winning and losing one of those.
And if you fall short of your school’s cost of attendance despite earning California grants, don’t worry. There are other ways to pay for college, including applying for scholarships, taking out federal student loans, and looking into private student loan options.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.24% – 13.24%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|6.08% – 7.22%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|