A Cal Grant is money for college you don’t have to pay back. To qualify, you must apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or CA Dream Act Application (CADAA) by the deadline and meet the eligibility and financial requirements as well as any minimum GPA requirements. Cal Grants can be used at any University of California, California State University or California Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California.
There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA or CADAA responses, your verified Cal Grant GPA, the type of California colleges you list on your FAFSA and whether you’re a recent high school graduate.
Cal Grants are for students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree or vocational or career training, and do not have to be repaid. In addition to meeting the financial criteria and Cal Grant requirements, you must:
- submit the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application and your verified Cal Grant GPA by the deadline
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen or meet AB540 eligibility criteria
- be a California resident for 1 year and 1 day
- attend a qualifying California college
- not have a bachelor’s or professional degree
- have financial need at the college of your choice
- have family income and assets below the minimum levels
- be enrolled or plan to enroll in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or certificate
- be enrolled or plan to enroll at least half time
- have registered with the U.S. Selective Service, if required to do so
- not owe a refund on any state or federal grant or be in default on a student loan
- not be incarcerated at the time of enrollment in school
- maintain the Satisfactory Academic Progress standards as established by the school. Recipients who do not meet the standards are ineligible for Cal Grant payment and will not use eligibility during the terms they are ineligible for payment.
Cal Grant A
- will help pay for tuition and fees at four-year colleges
- award amounts vary by type of college — for 2018-2019, Cal Grants are up to $12,630 at a University of California campus, up to $5,742 at a California State University campus, and up to $9,084 at independent colleges
- has a GPA requirement. If you’re applying using your high school GPA, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA; if applying using your college GPA, you must have at least a 2.4 GPA
- requires that your course of study leads directly to an associate or bachelor’s degree, or qualifies you for transfer from a community college to a bachelor’s degree program
Cal Grant B
- provides a living allowance of up to $1,672, in addition to tuition and fee assistance after the first year, at a two- or four-year college
- pays most first-year students a living allowance only, which may be used to pay living expenses, books, supplies and transportation, as well as tuition and fees
- when renewed or awarded beyond your first year, you’ll receive the living allowance as well as a tuition and fee award (up to $12,630 at a UC campus, up to $5,742 at a CSU campus and up to $9,084 at independent colleges for 2018-2019)
- requires at least a 2.0 GPA
Cal Grant C
- Assists with the costs of a technical or career education
- provides up to $1,094 for books, tools and equipment—and up to $2,462 more for tuition and fees if you will be attending a school other than a California Community College (community colleges do not charge tuition and your fees will be waived as a Cal Grant recipient)
- is available for a maximum of two years
- If you qualify, you will receive an email or letter notification to complete the online Cal Grant C Supplement in WebGrants for Students by the deadline. Even though a GPA is not required to apply for a Cal Grant C, you are still encouraged to submit yours because it can help your chances of receiving an award.
If you are a high school senior or within one year after graduating high school or transferring from a community college to a 4 year school, meet all the requirements, have financial need, submit the FAFSA or CADAA and GPA by March 2nd and graduate from a California high school (or receive your GED), you are guaranteed to receive a Cal Grant award. Be sure to check out the details.
You have three chances to qualify under the Cal Grant Entitlement Awards:
- As a high school senior
- Within one year after graduating from high school or receiving your GED
- As a California Community College transfer student, if you meet the requirements
- Complete a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) or CA Dream Act Application by March 2nd
- Submit a California Community College GPA based on 24 completed units to the California Student Aid Commission by March 2. Note: Most colleges, if not all, electronically submit student's GPA to the commission before the deadline.
- If you receive a preliminary award notice you must complete a Transfer Entitlement Certification form at WebGrants for Students
Important! Starting with the 2017/18 academic year students must create a Web Grants account (https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov/logon.asp) and claim their award. If a student doesn’t claim their award and the school doesn’t either, the student will not show up on the schools roster to award for the 2017/18 award year.
Once you submit your completed FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application (CADAA) and California Community College GPA you will be considered for the appropriate Cal Grant award based on GPA, financial need and college of attendance. For additional information visit the California Student Aid Commission website click here.
To renew your Cal Grant, you must complete and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or CA Dream Act Application (CADAA) for the upcoming academic year, available October 1st. As a renewal student, it is not necessary for you to submit a GPA verification form. Once your grant is renewed, you will be able to view your information for the new academic year on WebGrants for Students. This information is usually available by late July when renewals occur.
Your school will notify you of your award amount if you are eligible for payment. Prior to disbursing Cal Grant payments, the school is responsible for validating your eligibility to receive the award. If the school determines that you are not eligible, they have the authority to withdraw the award. It is recommended that you contact your financial aid office to ensure that your grant is renewed. Students must have 10 percent or more of remaining eligibility to renew a Cal Grant award.
March 2: The most important deadline for Cal Grants is March 2. Be sure you submit your FAFSA and your verified Cal Grant GPA by the March 2 Cal Grant application deadline.
September 2: If you’ll be attending a California Community College in the fall and missed the March 2 deadline, you have a second deadline of September 2. There are only a limited number of awards available for those who apply in the fall, so try to meet the March 2 deadline.
Keep in mind that your college may have earlier deadlines for its financial aid programs, so be sure to check with each college you’re considering. Also, deadlines for private scholarships may be earlier in the year.