There are several resources that can help you both estimate the cost of attending college and check what aid you might qualify for. There are typically two types of aid available to students: gift aid (like grants and scholarships) that help reduce the cost of attending college, and self-help aid (like loans, work-study and part-time employment) that help you cover the net cost (costs that aren't paid for by gift aid). You should explore all available options and reach out to your chosen higher education institutions for more information.
Check and see what aid your specific public or private university may offer. Typically in the form of gift aid, these funds will go towards tuition and fees, but not necessarily living expenses. Some of these are awarded automatically based on your economic information, things you have accomplished, and other criteria.
Cal Grant and the Middle Class Scholarship
Paying for college can be difficult, but California has always been a leader in providing eligible students with an affordable college education. The Cal Grant and the Middle Class Scholarship are two great state programs to help California families afford college:
Cal Grant, a need-based state financial aid program, has been a big part of making college affordable for many California families. Qualified students can receive up to $12,192 in funding to attend almost any college in California – awards vary depending on economic need, grades and the college you attend. The California Student Aid Commission offers nearly billion dollars in Cal Grants and other financial aid to approximately 320,000 eligible students each year.
Click here to download my Steps to Getting Aid Infographic!
The Middle Class Scholarship Act is a newer program for students who do not qualify for Cal Grants but are still priced out of college. It offers sliding-scale discounts of up to 40 percent for families who earn $150,000 or less and don't qualify for Cal Grants, which support lower-income students. Students must have at least a "C" average.
Students apply just as they would for a federal loan or a Cal Grant, by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 2. They must also have a C average. Don't delay!