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Paying for College

Don't let the high cost of college discourage you. Numerous sources of financial aid can help you afford even the most expensive schools. In fact, nearly half of all college students receive some financial aid. The key is to start saving and researching now.

Save Early: Consider the types of college you might attend (public, private, urban, rural), the requirements of your potential major (books, supplies), and living costs (housing, transportation, food). Estimate your financial needs, and begin saving money each month. Many banks offer special college savings accounts.

Explore Your Options: You can apply for several types of aid from federal and state agencies, private foundations, and colleges. The federal government alone provides nearly $50 billion in student aid to U.S. citizens annually. Delve into the topics below for more information. 

This page contains general information on financing college and government financial aid programs. For specific scholarship opportunities, please visit our Scholarships page.

All about the FAFSA

Seniors: If you plan to start college in the fall of the following year you and your parents need to submit a FAFSA on the required dates for best results.

FAFSA On the Web They promise quicker turnaround time if you fill out the FAFSA on the web. It's a good idea to pick up a hard copy of the FAFSA in the counseling center so you know ahead of time what information they are going to require.

FAFSA PIN - Before you can apply for financial aid online, you need to register for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for you and your parents. This serves as you electronic signature when you fill out the FAFSA online http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/scams.phtml to learn more about scholarship scams. You can actually search for free online or go to your local library for a list of scholarships. Check out these websites.

Financial Aid Calculators - The most popular calculators are the College Cost Projector, Savings Plan Designer , Financial Aid Estimation Calculator and Loan Payment Calculator.
(Kantrowitz)

FAFSA Help - Here you will find all the answers to your questions about filling out the FAFSA. There are even photos of the form with very exact instructions on completing the questions.

Cal Grants

If you are a current high school senior or a recent high school graduate, you may be eligible for the Cal Grant Entitlement Award to assist you with your college costs. If this sounds like you, then you can receive a Cal Grant Entitlement Award.

In order to be eligible for the Cal Grant Entitlement Award, you will need to:

  • be a recent High School graduate or high school senior ready to graduate
  • be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • be a California Resident
  • attend a qualifying California college
  • not have already earned a bachelor's or professional degree
  • have financial need at the college of your choice
  • have a family income and assets below the income ceilings
  • be enrolled or plan to enroll in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or certificate
  • be enrolled or plan to enroll at least half-time
  • have registered with the U.S. Selective Service, if required to do so
  • not owe a refund on any state or federal grant
  • not be in default on any student loan

You must also complete and file both the FAFSA and GPA Verification form by March 2nd. The FAFSA may be completed on line by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov or you can file a paper FAFSA. Paper FAFSA's are available at your campus financial aid office and must be completed and postmarked no later than March 2nd. The GPA verification form must be completed by your college or high school and must be submitted with a postmark no later than March 2nd. At the schools option, it can be transmitted, directly by your school, no later than March 2nd.

CAL GRANT A

Cal Grant A awards assist low- and middle-income students with tuition/fee costs. Awards are based on financial need and academic achievement, as measured by the applicant's GPA or test scores.

The minimum length of the course of study in which a Cal Grant A recipient must be enrolled is two academic years. If you are a Cal Grant A recipient and attend a community college, no payment will be made. Your award will be placed on reserve for up to two years until you transfer to a four-year college, university, or trade school. The maximum new award amounts for 2003-2004 are: $9,708 at independent schools and colleges, $3,429 at the University of California (UC) and $1,428 at the California State University (CSU). The Cal Grant A award amounts may differ depending on the annual budget process. You will receive notification of the official award amounts once the budget is signed.

CAL GRANT B

Cal Grant B awards assist low-income or disadvantaged students with "access costs." Awards are based upon financial need and academic achievement and may take into consideration other family circumstances. The access award assists with living expenses, books, supplies, transportation and other non-tuition/fee costs in the first year. The maximum access award proposed for the 2003-2004 academic year range between $700 to $1,551. Renewal recipients, California Community College transfer students, and 2 percent of first-year recipients will receive a Cal

Grant B award which will also include a tuition award. Cal Grant B award amounts for the 2003-2004 award year will be determined through the annual budget process. (The maximum tuition and fee amounts for 2002-2003 were the same as those awarded under the Cal Grant A program.)

Loans vs. Grants

LOANS:

A Federal subsidized educational loan is money borrowed to help assist students with low interest rate loans to help defray the educational costs. The Federal subsidized loans can be borrowed from different lenders and can be guaranteed by several state agencies throughout the United states. You will need to check with your college or university for a list of lenders and guarantors.

The loans must be paid back after you graduate from college or drop below a half time status. Your loans can be deferred during some periods while you are in attendance in school and most loans have a grace period before you begin to repay. You may wish to go to EDFUND to see more about the loans they guarantee. They may be contacted by going to www.edfund.org .

GRANTS:

The Cal Grant is different in that you do not have to pay back the grant. Both the grant and loan are used for the purpose of assisting students, who demonstrate financial need, with tuition costs to attend a college, university or private post secondary institution.

Each student should look into the grant programs both federal and state first and if you demonstrate further financial need, then you can explore subsidizing your educational costs with student loans.

Don't Fall for Scholarship Scams: Applying for financial aid is free!! You will only need to fill out a FAFSA application. Be wary of companies offering to find scholarships for you for a fee. Go to http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/scams.phtml to learn more about scholarship scams. You can actually search for free online or go to your local library for a list of scholarships. Check out these websites..

FastWeb.com - This is a free scholarship search site. You fill out an online profile and they look for scholarships that fit your profile. They give you a "mailbox" and as time goes by they'll put scholarship applications (or letters about them) in your mailbox.

Financial Aid Calculators - The most popular calculators are the College Cost Projector, Savings Plan Designer , Financial Aid Estimation Calculator and Loan Payment Calculator.
(Kantrowitz)

Americorps - This explains the volunteer programs of service to America, like VISTA and The National Civilian Community Corps. Americorps workers also work for Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and Boys and Girls Clubs. It is a great program for those who are really interested in doing something for the country as a civilian

Selective Service Registration
In order to receive any government backed loans, all 18 year old males must register with the selective service. Might as well do it now!

Financing College

Don't let the high cost of college discourage you or your child. Numerous sources of financial aid can help you afford even the most expensive schools. In fact, nearly half of all college students receive some financial aid. The key is to start saving and researching now. Consider the types of college your child might attend (public, private, urban, rural), the requirements of your potential major (books, supplies), and living costs (housing, transportation, food). Estimate your child's financial needs, and begin saving money each month. Many banks offer special college savings accounts.

Financial Aid

You and your child can apply for several types of aid from federal and state agencies, private foundations, and colleges.

Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation and should be the first stop for students seeking financial aid. By completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students are considered for federal student aid. Many other financial aid programs require that students first fill out the FAFSA (including Cal Grants). To fill out the FAFSA, you will also need to complete the application for a Federal Student Aid PIN.

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) is the principal state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending California colleges and universities. Students can apply for the Cal Grant program and several other financial aid programs through the CSAC website.

Undocumented students who are eligible for AB 540 are now eligible to receive financial aid from the State of California. To apply for California State aid, AB 540 students must complete the California Dream Act Application and the Cal Grant GPA Verification process. More information on AB540. Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) also provides college information and scholarships for undocumented students.

LA Cash for College provides free assistance to Los Angeles students and familes applying for federal and state financial aid. Visit their website to find out more about the workshops and other services they offer.

Many colleges and universities also provide financial aid to their students. You should ask each college on your list what their financial aid policies are and what it takes to apply for financial aid. Many colleges will require that you fill out the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE before applying for financial aid.

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded to students based on several criteria. Your child can receive a scholarship for academics, athletics, community service, and many other endeavors. FastWeb.com is a great Web site to search for scholarship opportunities. Your child can fill out an online profile and the website will match their profile with potential scholarships. The Minority Scholarship Search allows students to search for scholarships that are open to students of their race. Other organizations that offer college scholarships include:

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