For students who are planning to attend college or are already attending college in California, there is a special grant program known as Cal grants. Like other types of grants, the Cal grant is money that does not have to be paid back. In addition, applying for a Cal grant start with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) just like for other kinds of financial aid.
There are some very specific rules about Cal grants set up by the California Student Aid Commission.
The requirements for a Cal grant start with submitting the FAFSA before the yearly deadline. The deadline for most schools is March 2; however, students who are attending community college have until September 2nd to apply. Students should keep in mind though that it is better to file as early as possible because the money for Cal grant is limited. In fact, the California Student Aid Commission recommends not missing the March 2 deadline even for community college students.
Students applying for Cal grants need to also verify their GPA before the deadline as well. Most schools have an automatic way to verify the student’s GPA, but it is important to ensure that it is done. For students whose schools do not automatically verify the GPA, the Student Aid Commission has a downloadable form. The student must meet other requirements as well, such as being a California resident at the time of high school graduation, be attending a California college that qualifies, and not yet having earned a bachelor’s or professional degree.
Students who apply for college grants and Cal grants are sometimes also eligible for Pell grants.
The report from the FAFSA includes detailed information about the student’s eligibility for these and other financial aid as well. Colleges use the report to award financial aid to their students and sometimes funds run out before the number of qualified students does, so applying early is very important.
Cal grants are another great option for California students who want to attend college but aren’t sure they can afford it. The grants are money that does not have to be paid back. In addition, depending on the type of grant awarded, the money can be used for tuition, room and board, and even books and supplies. The only way to find out if a student is qualified though is to start the application process with the FAFSA.