Apply for financial aid

The first step toward paying for a UC education is applying for financial aid.

Applying is free, and many students are surprised to find out what they're eligible to receive. Whether or not you think you’ll qualify for need-based financial aid, it’s still a good idea to apply.

Here's how to apply:

1. Submit your application for admission to UC.

2. File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) OR a California Dream Act Application between January 1 and March 2.

  • Most students should file a FAFSA, which serves as your primary application for most federal, state and school financial aid. For help filling out the FAFSA, download our FAFSA guide (pdf).

    3. Check to make sure your Cal Grant GPA verification was submitted.

    • California community colleges and most California high schools automatically submit students' GPAs for Cal Grants. Check with your school to make sure; if they don't automatically submit your GPA, download the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form and have your school submit it to the California Student Aid Commission.

    The FAFSA or California Dream Act Application and Cal Grant GPA Verification Form must be completed and filed (postmarked) between January 1 and March 2, 2015.

    Don't wait until you're accepted to UC or until you or your family have filed your income taxes to apply for financial aid.

    What happens next?

    All of the information you submit will help UC determine the amount and type of financial aid you receive. Each UC campus to which you have been accepted will calculate your aid and send you an electronic financial aid award offer.

    Here's what you should do after applying to keep the financial aid process on track:

    • Find out how campuses will communicate with you. All campuses rely on students to frequently check email and student online portals for document requests and award notices.
    • Campuses may contact you seeking additional information. Respond immediately to all requests for follow-up documents and actions, including those from both the financial aid and admissions offices.
    • You should hear about your financial aid award before the campus asks you to commit to attending, and with enough time to make an informed decision. (The Statement of Intent to Register deadline for most campuses is generally May 1 for freshmen and June 1 for transfers).
    • Make sure you accept (or decline) your financial aid offer (typically through the UC campus online portal).
    • After you've been admitted, if your personal or family circumstances change or your basic financial aid budget doesn't cover your educational expenses, you can appeal to your campus financial aid office for more help.
    • Apply again next year! You'll need to apply for financial aid every year you're enrolled in school to continue receiving aid. (And even if you didn't receive financial aid one year, you may be eligible to receive financial aid the following year).

    Learn more at How aid works »

    What about private scholarships from sources outside of UC?

    Many organizations offer private scholarships that may help cover some of your costs. Consult with your high school career center or counselors for help finding scholarship opportunities.