California has over 12% of the US population and Silicon Valley is a vibrant technology hub and so is San Francisco. There are top-notch colleges in the area such as Stanford University, University of California, University of Berkeley and the California State University (CSU).
I’ve spoken with high school and college students in California. One key issue many students face here just like the rest of the US is with the high cost of a college education. Nevertheless, I also found that about 80% of students I spoke to had some form of college scholarship in California.
The first place to look for college scholarships in California is the Cal Grants which is administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). As part of the Cal Grants program, you will also be required to complete the FAFSA application. This has two benefits, one is that the FAFSA application helps CSAC to figure out your financial background and second, the FAFSA is used for making the decision on your federal student aid.
The FAFSA application will enable you to apply for federal student aid. Students are required to sign up for US Selective service to be eligible for federal aid. Also, the following details will be required as part of the application process:
- Your basic information such as social security number, drivers license and for non-citizens of the US their alien registration number
- Tax information or the tax returns and W2 information. This is required for you, or both you and your parents in case you are dependent of your parents
- Information on un-taxed income such as interest income, child support and so on
- Details of all investments, cash, account balances and real estate assets
The above information will be used to confirm your identity, eligibility status for federal aid, and for determining your financial need towards college expenses.
For more in-depth information on the FAFSA application, refer to the worksheet here.
Students are provided college grant money of about $10,000 or more per year as part of this program.
To be eligible for Cal Grants, students need to be residents of California and study at a public or private college in California. Students should have completed high school recently or a year earlier. There is flexibility on time limit for those who have valid SAT or ACT scores.
Students are also classified based on financial need and are expected to have an average GPA score from high school. Additionally, they need to be signed up for the US Selective Service and not be in default on any student loans or grant refunds.
For students who did not graduate high school, a GED or a SAT or ACT score report can be used to apply for the Cal grants. The process is made very simple and a large percentage of California students receive Cal grants financial aid.
There are four types of Cal Grants as follows:
- Cal Grant A: This covers tuition at a two year or four year college or university. Students are granted an average of about $10,000 and this amount varies depending on the financial need and the college or university they are attending.
- Cal Grant B: This covers other expenses such as books and other non-tuition college expenses of about $1300.
- Cal Grant C: Technical/ vocational school students are eligible for this grant and are awarded about $500 for books and around $2500 for tuition at their vocational school.
- Cal Grant A Competitive Awards: These are reserved for students with a GPA of at least 3.0. Economically disadvantaged students are allowed a 2.0 minimum GPA.
For more information before applying for Cal Grants, refer to this Cal Grants checklist.
Other California Scholarships
The University of California students, University of Berkeley and other individual colleges and universities also have their own scholarship programs. However, these are a much smaller percentage than the federal aid and Cal grants.
Also, most people are eligible for federal aid and Cal Grants in any of the flexible Cal Grant categories. The amounts of these aid programs are also quite substantial. So by just applying for those two, you will be more than half-way through with your college financing.
Upon completing the FAFSA application, a Student Aid Report (SAR) is generated. This report needs to be submitted along with your Cal Grants application. So overall, it’s just a matter of gathering up all your documents as stated above, and then applying for the FAFSA and the Cal Grants program.
After that, depending on which colleges you’ve received acceptance letters for, simply contact the student aid office for information on their college-specific scholarships and any other local scholarships that they would recommend for you.
Hope you enjoyed this post and find it helpful for your college scholarship in California. Let me know what you think in the comments below.