Free financial aid for Calif. students |

Free financial aid for Calif. students

Cal Grants provide financial aid to college undergraduates, vocational students and those in teacher certification programs. Cal Grants are free money and are renewable for four years. To be eligible, you must live in California, be a recent high school graduate or have a GED, and meet eligibility requirements.

In order to apply for a Cal Grant, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or CA DREAM Act Application, between Jan. 1, 2014, and March 2, 2014. An additional form, the GPA Verification, is required and is most often filed by the high school the student attends.

There are different kinds of Cal Grants. Cal Grant A can be used for tuition and fees at public and private colleges. At California State University and University of California schools, this Cal Grant covers tuition and fees up to $5,472 and $12,192, respectively.

At private colleges, it pays up to $9,084 toward tuition and fees. To be eligible for a Cal Grant A, you must have a minimum 3.00 high school GPA.

Cal Grant B provides students with a living allowance and assistance with tuition and fees. Most first-year students receive an allowance of up to $1,473 for books and living expenses. A minimum 2.00 GPA is required for the Cal Grant B program.

Cal Grant C helps pay for tuition and training costs at occupational or career technical schools. To qualify, you must enroll in a vocational program at a California Community College, private college, or a career technical school. Funding is available for up to two years, depending on the length of the program. There is no minimum GPA requirement for Cal Grant C.

If you have a Cal Grant A or B and plan to enroll in a teacher credential program, you may be eligible to renew your Cal Grant award for an additional year.

Cal Grants can only be used while attending a qualified college in California. All of the UC and CSU campuses qualify, as well as the 112 California community colleges. Many private four year and some private career and technical colleges qualify.

For a list of all the Cal Grant eligible schools, go to

To be eligible for a Cal Grant, income ceilings for a family of four are around $87,400 for Cal Grant A and $45,900 for Cal Grant B. The income ceiling may go up this year, but this has not been announced as of yet.

In order to determine an applicant’s eligibility for a Cal Grant C, additional information must be provided on the Cal Grant C Supplement form.

Parents of dependent students must report assets on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Cal Grant has an asset limit of $67,600 to be eligible. Keep in mind when determining your assets — you don’t report home equity, most retirement funds and life insurance.

California students and their families have reasons to cheer this year. Besides Cal Grants, financial aid opportunities such as the Middle Class Scholarship program at the CSUs and UCs and the Blue and Gold plan at the U’s may keep many students, who were thinking of going out of state, in California for college.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at or

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