Paying for College
Finding ways to pay for college can be intimidating, but the state of California is here to help. The Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship are two state programs to help California students and their families.
Cal Grant is a need-based state financial aid program and has been a big part of making college affordable for many California families. Qualified students can receive up to $12,240 in funding to attend almost any college in California. Awards vary depending on economic need, grades, and the college you attend.
The Middle Class Scholarship Act is a new program for students who do not qualify for Cal Grants but are still priced out of college. It offers sliding-scale discounts of up to 40 percent for families who earn $150,000 or less and don’t qualify for Cal Grants, which support lower-income students.
Complete a Free Application for FAFSA by March 2nd at the California Student Aid Commission’s website www.csac.ca.gov.
Students who do not have a permanent Social Security number should instead complete the California Dream Act Application (CADAA), not the FAFSA. CADAA application information is confidential – it is NEVER shared with the federal government, homeland security, or immigration and customs enforcement. To learn more, please visit https://dream.csac.ca.gov/.
Get FREE Help!
Applying for financial aid can seem overwhelming and difficult to understand, but there are many free and helpful resources available to help you navigate through the process!
The California Cash for College (CCFC) program offers FREE workshops to assist low income and first generation college-bound high school seniors with filling out the applications listed above and applying for all types of financial aid. For dates, locations, and a list of what to bring, please visit: https://www.csac.ca.gov/cash-college
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
(800) 4-FED-AID (433-3243)
- California Student Aid Commission
(888) CA GRANT (224-7268)
(877) 2 EDFUND (233-3863)
- College Connection Scholarships
- FastWeb: Internet Scholarship Service
- California College Explorer
- Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid
Student Debt Resources
Congratulations! Making the decision to pursue higher education is an important step that can open doors and provide opportunities, but as you graduate you must start preparing for repayment of the loans used to pay for your education. Every 28 seconds someone defaults on their student loans from the over $130 billion in total outstanding student debt in California. The average student debt balance is over $35,000, making it difficult for borrowers to buy homes, invest, and start businesses. The State of California and the Federal Government offer programs and assistance to help you pay for your student loans.
An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size. The main plans are Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). To apply, visit the Federal Student Aid website.
Deferment and Forbearance
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to temporarily stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment amount for a period of time. To see if you are eligible, visit the Federal Student Aid Deferment or Forbearance website.
Federal Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is intended to encourage individuals to work in public service. The program allows public service employees to have certain federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of payment. Examples of “public service” include work in government, public schools, police and fire departments, public hospitals, non-profits, national service programs and more. To certify that you work for a public service organization, have your employer download and complete the Forgiveness or Cancellation webpage.
Eligible physicians may apply for a loan repayment up to $300,000 in exchange for a five-year service obligation. Eligible dentists may apply for either a loan repayment up to $300,000 in exchange for a five-year services obligation or a practice support grant up to $300,000 in exchange for a ten-year service obligation. All awardees are required to maintain a patient caseload of 30% or more Medi-Cal beneficiaries. For more information visit the CalHealthCares program page.
Closed School Discharge
You may be eligible for discharge of your federal student loan if your school closes while you’re enrolled or soon after you withdraw. You may even be eligible for a 100% discharge of your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans if you were unable to complete your program because your school closed. To learn more about the application process for getting your loan discharged contact your loan servicer. For more information visit the Federal Student Aid Discharge page.
Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) provides individualized assistance to California residents selecting a private college. OSAR counsels California students as they navigate their financial and academic future following the closure or unlawful activities of the private college they attended. For more information visit the California Office of Student Assistance and Relief Student Assistance page.