University Culture

High School Students

You don’t have to dig into those couch cushions for cash any longer, my friend. Finding free money for college is easier than you think! Find out how you can apply to get some money for your university education.

Follow these simple steps below to reach the pot ‘o gold!

1. Learn how to fill out your financial aid application.

FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

It’s free! You can find this application at www.fafsa.ed.gov which opens October 1st of your senior year. Use your prior year income to complete the application! This application’s priority deadline is MARCH 2nd. The FAFSA will provide in-depth information on all the U.S. Department of Education's federal student aid programs (grants, work-study and loans) and on how to apply.

Apply for a FSA ID: This is your username and password used to log in to certain U.S Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is also used to sign legally binding documents, such as your FAFSA, electronically. Visit fsaid.ed.gov create an FSA ID account. You will need to enter your email address and select a username and password. Your parents will also need to create a FSA ID. Please note that they will only create ONE FSA ID. If you have other siblings who attend or will be attending college, your parents will use the same FSA ID for all applications.

What you will need:

Student Aid Eligibility:

Eligibility for most federal student aid is based on financial need and on several other factors. The most basic eligibility requirements to receive federal student aid are that you must;

California Dream Application

The CA Dream Act Application is used to determine the California state financial eligibility of students who meet the qualifications of Assembly Bill 540 (AB540). This application is used to apply for state financial aid and it is free! You can apply by visiting www.caldreamact.org. The application opens October 1st and the deadline to submit is MARCH 2nd. You must also submit a GPA Verification Form.

Eligibility Requirements:

In general, to complete the CA Dream Act Application to receive aid from the State of California as a non-resident applying under AB 540 and AB 131, you must meet the following requirements:

2. Learn about federal, state and university grants:

There many grants available if you apply on time and are eligible. Grants are FREE money that do not have to be repaid!

Federal Grants:

Pell Grant: This grant is available to undergraduate students who are working towards their first bachelor’s degree. The amount that you are awarded is based on our Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is calculated when you complete and submit your financial aid application. Learn more about EFC

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): This grant is awarded to students that have the most financial need. Students can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year. The amount you get is based on your financial need and the availability of funds at your school.

State Grants:

Cal Grant: There are three types of Cal Grants – A, B, and C—awarded by the California Student Aid Commission. Your eligibility is determined on your FAFSA or Dream Act application. This grant is intended to pay for tuition and can also provide an allowance to help pay with additional educational expenses. A GPA Verification form must be submitted in addition to your financial aid application.

State University Grant: provides funding to pay the state tuition fee at any of the 23 California State Universities who are California residents or are otherwise determined eligible. Funding for this program is limited. Students must reapply for consideration every year. State University Grant awards are limited based on the number of units a student has earned and published length of their academic program. For more complete information, review the financial aid web site(s) of the campuses you are interested in or currently attending.

Institutional Grants:

Each college and university may have institution funding which they award to students. They types of aid and award amount are based on the school’s funding. Awarding criteria and application process may vary per institution. Contact your campus of choice to find out about different funding opportunities available to you. The sooner you call the more likely you are to receive some sort of university funding.

3. Learn about the Federal Work-Study Program:

Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the recipient's course of study. Once you have submitted your FAFSA your EFC will inform you whether or not you have qualified for this program.

4. Learn about federal student loans:

Yes…loans are considered a type of financial aid. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans need to be paid back. There are various low-interest loans available to students. Typically, you do not make payments on federal student loans while you are enrolled in school. The interest rate is fixed and repayment usually begins 6 months after you graduate from school. There are different types of student loans:

Subsidized Student Loan: This type of loan is available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. Your school will determine the amount you borrow. Interest on this loan does not accumulate on this loan while you are in school at least half-time. The Department of Education is your lender.

Unsubsidized loan: This loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students. There is no requirement to demonstrate financial aid. The amount you are awarded is determined based on your cost of attendance. Interest begins to accumulate in this loan once it has been disbursed to you. The Department of Education is your lender.

Perkins Loan: This is a low-interest (5%) federal student loan fir undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Your school is the lender and your payments will be made to your school. Repayment begins 9 months after you graduate. Check with your campus regarding available funds as not all schools participate in this program.

5. Scholarship search:

Scholarships are great little packages of joy and happiness that come in the form of FREE MONEY FOR YOUR EDUCATION! Unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Hundreds of thousands of scholarships from several thousand sponsors are awarded each year. You can obtain a scholarship by searching under the right qualification that fits you such as academic, athletic or artistic talent. Awards are also available for students who are interested in particular fields of study, who are members of underrepresented groups, who live in certain areas of the country or who demonstrate financial need.

The best way to search for scholarships is by using scholarship specific search engines such as www.FastWeb.org. Ventura County students can also visit www.vccf.org for great opportunities to apply for scholarships from local agencies, families and organizations.

There are several free scholarship databases available online. With more than 1.5 million scholarships worth more than $3.4 billion, the FastWeb scholarship search is the largest, most accurate and most frequently updated scholarship database. If you supply an email address, they will notify you when new awards that match your profile are added to the database. You can even submit an electronic application to some of the scholarships listed on scholarship search engines.

There are several free scholarship databases available online. With more than 1.5 million scholarships worth more than $3.4 billion, the FastWeb scholarship search is the largest, most accurate and most frequently updated scholarship database. If you supply an email address, they will notify you when new awards that match your profile are added to the database. You can even submit an electronic application to some of the scholarships listed on scholarship search engines. We have put together a list of scholarship for you! (PDF, 287KB)