California Students: Don’t forget to apply for a Cal Grant!

The California Student Aid Commission runs CalGrants.org, a great website that offers financial aid and grant information about, well, California Grants! Funded by the State of California, this type of college grant awards up to $9,700 a year* to pay for tuition, student housing, and books at any California community college, Cal State University, University of California, private college, and most career technical or vocational schools. Oh, and did I mention that this is free money that you don’t have to pay back?

There are a few available Cal Grants that you can apply for:

  • Cal Grant A – you may use this entitlement award for college or school tuition fees for public or private colleges and also for some private career colleges.
  • Cal Grant B – this entitlement award helps low-income students, by providing a living allowance as well as grants for school or college.
  • Cal Grant C – this entitlement award helps students in paying the tuition and training costs at career colleges.

As with most scholarships or education grants, there are some academic and income requirements. Awards are given primarily to high school seniors and recent graduates, but for older students who have been out of high school for long time, there is an opportunity for you to get your hands on some of this money, too. If your GPA is unavailable you must submit a recent SAT, ACT, or GED test score instead.

If you want some assistance in applying for your Cal Grant, find a Cash for College workshop in your area. Each winter, financial aid experts team up to offer Cash for College workshops throughout the state where students can get help in filling out the FAFSA and GPA Verification forms. The mission is to help low-income and first-generation college students complete the application process so that they have the financial means to pursue higher education. While you’re there, ask them about the Cash for College Performance Based Scholarship that you might be eligible for.

*The fine print: in the last month or so, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed some budget revisions that could affect the Cal Grant program, and unfortunately, I’m not talking about an increase in award money. Awards will be subject to approval of the final 2009-10 state budget, so keep yourself informed by checking in with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.

**Update (08/03/09): The California Student Aid Commission informed California State University campuses on July 31st that Cal Grant awards will be adjusted to cover the CSU’s recent student fee increase of $672 per year. For more information, click here.

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