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Financial Aid

Financial Aid 101

Financial Aid 101

Securing financial aid can be one of the most confusing processes. However, it really comes down to just a few simple concepts and strategies. What most students and parents don’t realize is that preparing to pay for college can begin as early as Freshman year. Here are a few tips about the process:
1. Sources of Aid. There are 3 sources of aid: Federal/State, Institutional, and Organizational.
  • Federal/State: Both federal and state governments offer aid to eligible students.
  • Institutional: Many colleges, especially private institutions, provide aid to their students.
  • Organizational: Many companies and organizations provide scholarships for students.
2. Types of Aid. There are 3 types of aid: Grants/Scholarships, Loans, and Work Study.
  • Grants/Scholarships: Do not need to be repaid.
  • Loans: Must be repaid. Loans are available for both parents and students.
  • Work Study: A program to help students earn money while in school.
    • Note: Being awarded work study funds does not guarantee the student will secure a job, but does offer many more opportunities to do so.
3. The Process. There are really only a few steps to getting financial aid.
  • FAFSA: Federal and state aid is determined through the FAFSA which can be submitted at in the student’s senior year. Be sure to indicate interest in work study. Everyone should fill out the FAFSA regardless of desire or need for aid!
  • CA Dream Act:  The California Dream Act Application is not an application for federal financial aid. Students eligible to file the Free Application for Federal
    Student Aid (FAFSA), must use that application which is available on-line at Students should not complete both applications.  CADAA is for undocumented immigrants.  The application from CA Student Aid commission and info is not shared with the federal government.  Application is for state financial aid only.  If a student is a DACA recipient, they should fill out the CA Dream Act application.  Visit
  • Institutional Aid: Most schools consider students for aid based on their application alone. However, some will require a separate application for particular scholarships or require you to submit a CSS Profile, which is similar to the FAFSA.
  • Scholarships: Search and apply for organizational scholarships regularly. You can find scholarships in the College & Career Center.  Otherwise, ask the companies/organizations you or your parents are a part of. There are even some available for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors!
4. Wait. Once you’ve filled out the necessary applications, all you can do is wait. Once accepted, each college will send you a complete financial aid package outlining your federal/state and institutional aid, as well as your options for loans. It is only then that you can truly compare costs. Don’t worry too much about the types of grants/scholarships you are awarded. It’s the final amount that counts. Types of loans, however, will make a difference, but no need to worry about that yet. The financial aid office at the school you choose to attend will be able to walk you through everything.
Financial Aid


2020-21 FAFSA Changes

2020-21 FAFSA Changes

FAFSA® News 

Note: We'd like to request that you encourage students and parents to create FSA IDs as soon as possible, especially if they think the Social Security Administration might have incorrect information for them in its files. Send students and parents to for information about the FSA ID and a link to create an FSA ID. Meanwhile, we've developed several resources to help you get the word out about the FSA ID.

Changes on the 2020–21 FAFSA® Form
The 2020–21 FAFSA changes include the following:
  • To promote a fully integrated user experience, has been synchronized with the myFAFSA component of the myStudentAid mobile app, allowing applicants and parents to seamlessly transition from one application source to the other.
  • On the myStudentAid mobile app, students and parents may begin, complete, and submit a new or renewal FAFSA form for both the 2020–21 and 2019–20 FAFSA processing cycles.
  • Due to the elimination of IRS Forms 1040 A and 1040 EZ, Schedule 1 questions were added to determine students' eligibility for the Automatic Zero of an Expected Family Contribution and the Simplified Needs Test. Learn how to help students and parents with the Schedule 1 questions.
  • Students can access and view their Student Aid Report on the myStudentAid mobile app.
Additional FAFSA Resources

Additional FAFSA Resources

1) Table of Where to Find the Information you Need Online
2) A Sampling of Student Aid Resources of Students and Parents
Western Undergraduate Exchange

Western Undergraduate Exchange

WUE (pronounced “woo-wee”) is the Western Undergraduate Exchange, and it is coordinated by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WUE is a regional tuition-reciprocity agreement that enables students from WICHE states to enroll in more than 150 participating two- and four-year public institutions at 150 percent of the enrolling institution’s resident tuition. WUE is the largest program of its kind in the nation, and has been in operation since 1987! WUE is not a short term exchange—it is meant to be used for a full degree. Every school and program is different, search your school and program to see the application process and requirements.
The Financial Aid Process

The Financial Aid Process

Finding financial aid can seem overwhelming. The infographic below provides helpful information about the financial aid process.
Financial Aid Process Mapped Out