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Everything You Need to Know About the Cal Grant

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Congratulations on applying to college in California! Now it’s time to get started on your Cal Grant application for financial aid.


Most California colleges require in-state applicants to apply for a Cal Grant from the California Student Aid Commission. A state grant, this award doesn’t have to be repaid the way loans do. The funds are available to students pursuing undergraduate degrees or vocational or career training at California colleges and universities. This year, the deadline for Cal Grant applications is March 2, so read on to learn more about the process of securing aid.


Do You Qualify for a Cal Grant?


Not all college students qualify for Cal Grants. In addition to being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, recipients must meet the following requirements:


  • Be a California resident for a minimum of one year
  • Be enrolled at least half time in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or certificate at a qualifying California school
  • Be in need of financial aid and have eligible family incomes and assets
  • Be registered with the U.S. Selective Service, if required
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress standards


To be considered for this financial award, students must submit a FAFSA or CADAA along with their verified Cal Grant GPA. Note that students who already hold a bachelor’s or professional degree, incarcerated students, and those who owe a refund on any state or federal grant don’t qualify for aid.


Additionally, some students may qualify for the Cal Grant C (CGC). A state grant, this award is designed to help students attending a vocational, occupational, or technical program at an eligible school. Providing up to $547 for books and equipment and up to $2,462 for tuition and fees, these grants are available for a period of two years.

Steps for Completing the Cal Grant Application


The good news is that filling out a Cal Grant application for aid is fairly simple. Follow these steps to avoid leaving free money on the table:


1. Certify your GPA

Cal Grant applicants are required to file a certified grade point average (GPA) by March 2. If you’re a current high schooler, you can relax, as California law dictates that all public and charter high schools must upload GPAs for enrolled seniors electronically. If you graduated high school in previous years though, you’re responsible for submitting a certified GPA by the deadline. You can find a copy of the GPA verification form online.



2. Fill Out Your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application

To qualify for the Cal Grant, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a California Dream Act Application. The latter applies only to those individuals who lack a Social Security number or have received DACA approval. Be sure to submit your form before March 2 of the year in which you plan to start college.


What to Expect From Your Cal Grant Award


When budgeting for college, you need to know how much you can expect to receive from different forms of financial aid. With the Cal Grant, students receive various amounts of money depending on whether they’re attending a UC, CSU, community college, or private school in California.


According to the California Student Aid Commission website, college students may qualify for both Cal Grant A and Cal Grant B awards, but they are only able to receive awards from one type at a time. Students need a high school GPA of 3.0 (or a college GPA of 2.4) to receive Cal Grant A. A GPA of 2.4 is required for Grant B.


The following award amounts are in place for the 2018-2019 school year:


Cal Grant A (per year): up to


  • $12,570 for UC students
  • $5,742 for CSU students
  • $9,084 for students at private non-profit California colleges and WASC for-profit California colleges
  • $4,000 for students at non-WASC accredited for-profit institutions


Cal Grant B (per year):


  • $1,672 stipend toward first-year books and supplies


It’s important to note that students can receive the Cal Grant for a period of four years, provided that they meet eligibility requirements. In general, renewal updates are posted in late July.


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A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.