Cal Grants are specifically for residents of the state of California but if you have graduated from high school while living in California and are a resident, you may qualify. You must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen.
Cal Grants can be as much as $9,700 a year for students who meet all the requirements and submit all the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork.
It is incumbent upon you, the student, to wade through and educate yourself on what the necessary requirements are. If, after reading about all that needs to be done, and you follow through, it is almost a certainty you will receive a full or partial Cal grant.
Cal Grants require that you must either submit or have the qualifications of the following:
- Be a recent high school graduate or be in receipt of your GED.
- Meet academic, financial and eligibility requirements as set out by the Cal grant requirements.
- Submit your GED score directly to the California Student Aid Commission if you do not have a GPA (Grade Point Average).
- Provide Parental income records and student grade point averages.
- Not be in default on a student loan or owe a refund on a state or federal grant.
- If you have been home schooled you must provide your ACT, SAT or GED score.
- Have a Social Security Number.
- Attend a qualifying California college that also meets the Cal grant designation.
- Not have a bachelor’s degree or professional degree (although Cal Grant A and B do extend awards for a teaching credentials program).
- The family income and assets must be below the established ceilings.
- Be registered with U.S. Selective Services (this usually applies to males).
The most important thing to remember is that you must submit your FAFSA plus your verified Cal Grant GPA by the deadline. Filling out your FAFSA is a key to automatically making yourself eligible for all other grants that are available federally. This especially applies to Pell grants.
You must apply for a Cal grant by March 2nd if you want to maximize your opportunities to receive the grant. March 2nd is the deadline, but consider there is some truth to the fact that the early bird gets the worm. Cal Grants do have a financial shelf life. That means that once the grant has been depleted (awarded to other applicants), you will have to apply again the next academic year.
If you plan to attend a community college in the fall, your deadline for applying for a Cal grant is September 2nd.
There are four levels of Cal grants that can be mixed and matched but there are specifics in how you can qualify. The Cal grants are broken down in the following categories: Cal Grant A, Cal Grant B, Cal Grand A Competitive Award, and Cal Grant B Competitive Award.
Cal grants can be applied to tuition, room and board, books or other supplies and it does have to be repaid.
Final approval for a Cal grant lies with the State Budget Act, so until you are notified that your application has been approved, it is considered to be tentative.