Cal Grants are one of the best avenues for California college students to pay for college education without falling too deeply into student loan debts. Keep in mind that the money granted by the state is not considered as a student loan but as scholarship assistance – truly, good news for deserving students.
Seven Important Points About the Cal Grant
- The application deadline is March 2nd. An exception is made if you will be attending community college in the fall, in which case the deadline is September 2nd. However, there are a limited number of Cal Grant awards for the September 2nd deadline.
- The amount you can receive is up to $12,192 per academic year.
- You do not have to repay Cal Grants
- Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a required part of the application process for Cal Grants.
- Cal Grants are for undergraduate students and occupational training programs. In some cases they can also be used to pay tuition, room and board, textbooks and supplies. This however depends on which kind of Cal Grant you are awarded.
- Cal Grants must be used within the state of California.
- Cal Grants come in three different categories: A, B, and C.
- A- tuition and fees / ranges from $5,970 to $12,192 for public colleges and up to $9,223 for private colleges
- B- living allowance and assistance with tuition and fees, for low-income students.
- C- helps pay for tuition and training costs at occupational and technical schools plus $547 for books
Who Can Qualify for a Cal Grant?
Not everybody is eligible for the Cal Grant so it is important to pay attention to the eligibility requirements. Interested individuals must possess the following qualifications: (It should be noted that these requirements apply to a graduating high school senior or a recent graduate)
• Be a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen or meet the AB540 criteria.
• Be a resident of verified resident of California upon graduation from high school or meet the AB540 criteria (i.e., attended a California high school for a minimum of 3 years between grades 9 and 12 and must not hold a valid non-immigrant visa)
• Have a social security number or meet the AB540 criteria
• Have financial needs based on the costs of a college education
• Have family income and assets at or below the established ceilings for applicants
• Attend a qualifying California college (i.e., Cal Grants can be applied in all campuses of the University of California, the California State University, and community colleges)
• Enrolled in an undergraduate degree or certificate program (Exceptions are given to Cal Grant A and B for individuals enrolled in teaching credential programs)
• Registration with the U.S. Selective Service for most male applicants
• Not in default for a student loan and/or not owing a refund for a state or federal grant
• Meet the GPA required for Cal Grant qualification; if using the high school GPA, the minimum is 3.0 but if using college GPA, the minimum is 2.4 for eligibility for Cal Grant A but for Cal Grant B, the minimum is 2.0 GPA.
Other Eligibility Factors for the Cal Grant
Interested individuals can avail of Cal Grants in one of four ways, namely:
• Within a year after graduation
• As a community college transferee with an age limit of 28
• As a high school senior student
• Within a year after completing GED requirements
Many interested individuals may not possess the GPA required for Cal Grant qualification but there several ways for them to still apply for Cal Grants, namely:
• Directly submit GED papers to the California Student Aid Commission
• Provide ACT, SAT or GED score for individuals who attended schools not accredited by regional accrediting agencies like the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or curriculum not approved by the University of California as well as for individuals who were home-schooled for their high school education
• SAT or ACT score or a re-established GPA for grades attained at any California community college for individuals who graduated from high school more than 5 years upon application.
How to Apply for a Cal Grant
Applicants for the Cal Grants must submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications between January 1 and September 2 but experts suggest submitting by March 2 to maximize the chances for approval. The school where the applicant is enrolled can submit the application but applicants also have the option of applying online.