Start 2019 Right: Apply for Cal Grant!

Hey California seniors! We hope you enjoyed your Christmas break with your friends and family. Now that you’re back in the swing of things, it’s a great time to start thinking about applying for Cal Grant.

What is Cal Grant?

Cal Grant is a financial aid program administered by the California Student Aid Commission that provides aid to California undergraduates, vocational training students, and those in teacher certification programs. The short version: A Cal Grant is money for college you don’t have to pay back!

Cal Grants can be used at most colleges in California. If you’re planning on attending a private non-profit California college like PUC, Cal Grant is worth up to $9,084 per year. That’s over $36,000 to help pay for four years of college—and it’s free!

How to Apply for Cal Grant

Applying for Cal Grant takes just two easy steps! To be considered for a 2019-20 Cal Grant award, you must complete the following requirements by March 2nd:

  1. Submit a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA)
  2. Ensure that a certified GPA is submitted to the California Student Aid Commission

GPAs are accepted only if certified by a school electronically or submitted by using the CSAC official GPA verification form. No transcripts are accepted.

*Due to March 2, 2019, falling on a Saturday, the CSAC will accept GPA verification forms postmarked no later than Monday, March 4, 2019.

Helpful Links

Need Help?

Our team of financial aid counselors in the Student Finance office is here to help if you have questions about Cal Grant and how much aid you may qualify for. Call (800) 862-7080, option 1 or email studentfinance@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now.

Take Just One Hour and File Your FAFSA

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for college is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an online form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. This year, for the first time, you can also complete it on your phone. The U.S. Department of Education has created a mobile-friendly version on its website or it can be filled out using its new myStudentAid app.

Starting today, October 1, 2018, you can file your FAFSA and have your information sent to up to 10 colleges you’re considering. Make sure to file FAFSA as soon as possible since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. To have your FAFSA information sent to PUC, include PUC’s school codeit’s 001258.

According to the FAQs on the FAFSA website, it takes most people less than an hour to complete a FAFSA for the first time, which includes taking time to gather the necessary documents, completing and reviewing the application, and reading the important information on the “Confirmation” page you’ll receive after signing and submitting the FAFSA. Nothing should stop you from taking one hour to do this incredibly important step in the college financial aid process!

Filing the FAFSA also potentially qualifies you for a Pell Grant, which is a subsidy from the U.S. federal government, and is something you don’t have to pay back. Amounts can change each year, but for the 2018-2019 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,095.

According to a study by NerdWallet, in 2014 U.S. high school graduates left a whopping $2.9 billion in free federal grant money on the table just by not completing the FAFSA, which made them ineligible for a Pell Grant. In our great state of California, over 100,000 seniors would have qualified for Pell Grants if they had filed their FAFSA, but as a result, they lost $396,401,205. See how critical it can be for you to take the time to do the FAFSA?

Based on your FAFSA information, our team of financial counselors can determine how much financial aid you are eligible for and create a personalized financial aid estimate for you where you can see how much per month it would cost to attend PUC. It’s incredibly helpful and absolutely an essential thing for you to have when making a decision about where to attend college.

Well, what are you waiting for? Start your FAFSA now at fafsa.gov!

Five Financial Things You Can Do Now

The fall is always a busy time of year for high school students (and their parents!) as they finish their college applications and start to work on determining how much financial aid they’re eligible for. This year in particular can be stressful, with new changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), more information about which can be found at puc.edu/financeresources. The following is a short list to help keep you on track now that FAFSA has opened—it’s time to get ready for next year!

Apply to college

  • If you haven’t already, apply to PUC at puc.edu/apply
  • Be sure to list your Social Security Number so PUC can access your FAFSA
  • Send in your transcripts and one letter of reference

Submit the FAFSA
(Starting October 1)

  • Get your FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov, which will serve as your legal signature when you submit the FAFSA; your parents should get one too
  • Start your FAFSA at fafsa.gov—have income information from the previous tax year available to refer back to
  • Be sure to include PUC’s school code (001258) to have your data sent to PUC
  • List at least one in-state college, otherwise you may be ineligible to apply for Cal Grant (CA residents only)
  • Sign your FAFSA with both your FSA ID and your parent’s ID; keep proof of completion

Submit a GPA verification form to the California Student Aid Commission
(
March 2 deadline)

  • Both this form (available at csac.ca.gov) and your FAFSA are required by March 2 to apply for Cal Grant (CA residents only)
  • Be sure to get proof of mailing from the Post Office

Talk with a PUC financial counselor

Search for scholarships

  • See what PUC offers at puc.edu/scholarships (March 2 deadline)
  • A helpful list of external scholarship websites is available at puc.edu/outsidescholarships
  • Don’t limit your search to just online; check local organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, and your chamber of commerce to see what they offer
  • Ask your PUC financial counselor for ideas of where else to look

Filling Out the FAFSA

Most of you, I imagine, are just about spent when it comes to filling out applications. Whether it’s a college application, scholarship application, or possibly a job application, the last thing you want to do is have an entirely different one to fill out. But the reason you should fill out this application? The potential for free money. Filling out the FAFSA gives you access to grants, loans, and work study funds that are provided by the federal government. Many states and schools also use FAFSA for their individual financial aid programs. There are different deadlines for each school to receive your FAFSA, so it’s good to have it filled out as soon as possible. Some of the funds are done on a first-come-first-serve basis, so it’s important to fill this early so you may be eligible for Cal Grant and Pell Grant.

Think of the FAFSA as one of those free giveaways you see in the mall. You answer a few brief questions about yourself and then you’re entered into a raffle for whatever the prize may be; the difference being, EVERYONE who enters in this “raffle”, wins.

Let me preface this step-by-step process by saying if, at any time, you are asked to pay for submitting your FAFSA, you are not at the right place. FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid and can be found at fafsa.gov.

Before you start, here are the items you will need:

  1. Your Parents. Unless you plan to file as independent, you’ll need your parents with you for certain information.
  2. Your Federal Student Aid PIN. This will act as your electronic signature. You can then use this each of the following years you fill out the FAFSA. Your parents may also need to create a PIN. Go to http://pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp to get started.
  3. Your Social Security Number, your Permanent Resident Card (if you have one), your W-2 or any records used to show money earned for the previous year, and finally your tax records. If you haven’t filed your taxes for this year, you can give estimates of your tax information but you’ll need to update your FAFSA once you do file. (This may be where your parents come in handy.)

Now you’re ready to fill out the FAFSA:

  1. The first set of questions is fairly basic in asking for personal information. Name, address, date of birth, favorite color (not really though).
  2. The second section of questions is financially based. You’ll need to use your tax return from the previous year. For example, this year (if you’re applying for 2015-2016 school term) you’ll need 2014 tax information. If you haven’t filed those, then you can make an estimate based on the previous year unless your financial information has dramatically changed.
  3. You can list up to 10 schools that you wish to have your FAFSA sent to. You can send the FAFSA to these schools even if you haven’t applied or been accepted to them. If you are considering more than 10 schools, you can add more after submitting the original application. If you want to have your FAFSA sent to PUC, include our school code, which is 001258.
  4. Lastly, use your Financial Student Aid PIN to sign your form. Your parents may also need to enter their PIN.

If you need additional information about what you are filling out, there will be helpful icons to the right of the application as you go through. Also, there is a new chat feature which allows you to speak with a knowledgeable agent if you need assistance. You can also contact our Student Finance office and talk with one of our Financial Counselors if you have questions about the FAFSA or other financial related questions. They can be reached at studentfinance@puc.edu or at 800.862.7080 option 1.

Below is a helpful video that goes into a little more detail about how to fill out your FAFSA.

Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.