Cal Grants are a form of need-based financial aid provided by the state of California to help cover college expenses. Depending on which Cal Grant you get, you can receive as much as $12,192 per year to pay for college expenses at qualifying California colleges. There are 5 different types of Cal Grants:
- Cal Grant A: Can be used to cover school costs of up to $5,970 for CSU and $12,192 for UC schools, and up to $9,223 for private colleges in the state of California.
- Cal Grant B: Provides those who qualify with a living allowance, along with tuition and fee assistance. For most first-year students, awards are limited to money for books and living expenses. When the grant is awarded beyond freshman year, or renewed, it can also help pay college tuition and fees.
- Cal Grant C: For those who qualify, Cal Grant C helps pay tuition and training costs for occupational and career technical schools. The award can be for up to $547 to spend on books, tools, and equipment, and up to $2,462 additional to pay for tuition and fees if attending a school other than a California Community College.
- Cal Grant A Competitive Award: Awards for students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who are from low to middle-income families. However, meeting the requirements does not guarantee the award.
- Cal Grant B Competitive Award: Awards for students with a minimum GPA of 2.0 who come from low-income and disadvantaged families. However, meeting the requirements does not guarantee the award.
Cal Grant Eligibility
To be eligible for a Cal Grant, you must be a California resident who is graduating or recently graduated high school, or recently received your GED, and must meet the financial, academic, and eligibility requirements. In addition, you must:
- Be a California resident at the time of your high school graduation, or meet the AB540 criteria (for undocumented students), and be attending an eligible California school at least half time
- Not have previously received a bachelor's or professional degree
- Not owe a refund on a state or federal grant, nor be in default on a federal student loan
How to Apply
To apply, you must first fill out and submit the FAFSA form or California Dream Application by March 2. Then, you must file a verified grade point average, or GPA, form with the California Student Aid Commission by March 2.
When submitting the verified Cal Grant GPA form, first talk to a guidance counselor or school to see if your school does it for you. If not, download and fill out the student section of the GPA Verification Form and bring it to your school. Forms can be found at www.csac.ca.gov.
Cal Grant Deadlines
In order to receive an award, you must apply by March 2. If you miss this deadline and plan to attend community college in the fall, you have until September 2 to submit the application. However, the number of Cal Grants awarded each year is limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.
Do I need to reapply for my Cal Grant every year?
Yes, you must re-submit your FAFSA form every year by the March 2 deadline in order to have your Cal Grant renewed.
When will I know if I received a Cal Grant?
If you qualify for a Cal Grant, you should receive your award letter, or California Aid Report (CAR) by the end of March or early April. If you are applying for a Cal Grant Competitive award, you should receive your CAR by the end of May. If you are applying to renew your Cal Grant, you should receive a response by mid-July.
If you have not received a response within a month of the expected deadline, you should contact the California Student Aid Commission by phone at 888-224-7268, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit CalGrants.org or find other college grants you may be eligible for.
Last updated January, 2013