Students who went to high school in California and go on to college or technical school in the state might receive Cal Grants, which the state gives to qualified students to help with higher education costs. These grants provide up to $11,124 per year, as of 2011, and because they are grants, students do not have to repay them.
Applicants must have either graduated from high school in California or earned a GED while living in the state. Applicants must also be planning to attend a California college at least halftime as an undergraduate during the upcoming school year. In addition, students must meet all conditions for federal financial aid eligibility, including having a Social Security number, being citizens or eligible non-citizens, not being in default on a federal student loan and not owing any refunds on previous academic grants.
Types of Grants
There are five separate Cal Grants that students can receive. Cal Grant A is the largest one that provides assistance with tuition and fees at two-year and four-year colleges. Cal Grant B is similar, but it also helps with living expenses and books for low-income students and can be used for programs as short as one year. Cal Grant C is for students who are enrolled in occupational or career technical schools in programs at least four months long. Competitive Cal Grants A and B require students to have a particular GPA but allow families to have slightly higher incomes.
Students must apply for Cal Grants no later than March 2 of the year in which the school year begins. Therefore, a student who wants to begin college in the fall of 2012 must apply no later than March 2, 2012. The main part of the Cal Grant application is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which the federal government sends to the California state government if a student resides in California and has listed at least one California school on the application. The second part is the GPA verification from the student's high school. Most high schools in California send this automatically for every student, but students should confirm this with their guidance counselor and submit the form by hand if the school does not send the GPA verification. After receiving a Cal Grant one year, the student only needs to submit the FAFSA each subsequent year.
Recieving the Award
Students offered Cal Grants will receive a California Aid Report no later than April 30 of the application year. The Cal Grant will also be listed on the college's financial aid award letter. The money for a Cal Grant goes directly to the college each academic term. If you are due a refund for living expenses or books, the college will send you a check.