Financial aid is money you get to help you go to school. Financial aid can come from many sources.
- Grants – do not have to be repaid
- Loans – money borrowed that must be repaid
- Scholarships – do not have to be repaid
- Employment opportunities (federal work study opportunities) – employment that lets a student earn part of their school costs - do not have to be repaid.
Sources of financial aid are: federal aid (FAFSA), state aid (Cal Grants), institutional aid (from your college or university) and scholarships from other resources/private donors. The financial aid you are eligible to receive depends on the college you attend and your individual situation and needs.
Do you qualify for financial aid?
Most financial aid is awarded based on your financial need. That is, the difference between what it will cost you to attend a particular college, known as your student budget, and what you are expected to pay towards those costs. To qualify, you must first have your financial aid eligibility determined.
Your student budget, or cost of attendance, includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and food, transportation and personal expenses. Your student budget will vary depending on whether you choose to live on or off campus. To estimate your student budget, the financial aid office determines what it would cost for you to live under each of these circumstances.
How to apply?
- Explore all financial aid options from federal, state and school sources. Talk with a school counselor or ILS case manager about scholarships and grants.
- Find out what’s offered and what’s required for financial aid programs at the school you plan to attend. Requirements, application procedures, and deadlines vary. Check the school's web site for more information. Try searching the school's web site for "foster youth".
- Be aware of deadlines
- The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step in the financial aid process. You use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as grants, loans, and work-study. In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid such as scholarships. Detailed information on completing the FAFSA is provided below.
- Review your SAR (Student Aid Report). Within four weeks after completing your FAFSA, you will receive a SAR. Review it for accuracy of information and follow any instructions listed.
If you don’t receive your SAR within four weeks, call the FAFSA customer service number 1-800-433-3243 to check the status of your application. For online application status checks, go to FAFSA and select "check status of a submitted FAFSA", under the “FAFSA Follow-up” section.
How much can I get?
Your EFC (expected family contribution), along with the rest of your FAFSA information, is made available to all the schools you list in Section 8 of the FAFSA. The schools use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package to meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school’s cost of attendance (which can include living expenses), as determined by the school. If you or your family have special circumstances that should be taken into account, contact your school’s financial aid office.
Additional Financial Information
The best place for information about student financial aid is the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. The financial aid administrator can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources.
You can also check out these resources:
- Your high school counselor’s office or your local library’s reference section.