Application Process

Apply for a Cal Grant in 2 easy steps!

Step One Application

Complete and submit the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application by March 2* of each year.

  • If you are a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or other eligible non-citizen, you should file the FAFSA. For the definition of eligible non-citizen see the description of "Citizenship Status" in the application instructions here.
  • If you are not a citizen, but attended a California high school for at least three years or graduated early from a California high school with the equivalent of at least three years of credits and attended three years of elementary and secondary school, graduated from a California high school or the equivalent, and are or will be attending an accredited California college or university, you should file the California Dream Act Application.
  • You can also download a PDF version of the FAFSA or PDF version of the California Dream Act Application in English or Spanish which you will need to mail for processing. If you will be mailing in a paper application, be sure to make a copy for your records and obtain a Certificate of Mailing ($1.30 in addition to postage) from the Post Office so you can verify the date you mailed your forms.
  • *Missed the March 2 deadline? There is a second deadline, only for California Community College students, September 2. Submit the required forms before the September 2 deadline to be considered for this specific Cal Grant. There is a limited number of September Cal Grants available.

Step Two Certified GPA

File a certified grade point average (GPA) with the California Student Aid Commission by no later than March 2*.

  • Public high schools and public charter schools are mandated in legislation to automatically submit their current senior year students’ certified GPAs with the Commission, unless the parent or student has opted out. Additionally, some colleges automatically submit their students’ certified GPAs, however, you must confirm whether your school will file your GPA for you before the deadline.
  • If your high school or college won’t be automatically submitting your Cal Grant GPA to the California Student Aid Commission, obtain a Cal Grant GPA Verification Form, get it certified by a school official, and mail it yourself before the deadline.
  • If you will be mailing in a paper GPA Verification Form, be sure to make a copy for your records and obtain a Certificate of Mailing from the Post Office so that you can verify the date you mailed your form.

Tips for Filing

To avoid issues later, complete your application early.

  • Need help completing the FAFSA, California Dream Act Application, or other forms? See your high school counselor or college financial aid administrator, or attend a free California Cash for College workshop.
  • If you or your parents won’t file taxes before the March 2nd deadline, don’t wait to file your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application. You can still submit the application based on estimated financial information, then come back later after you have filed taxes and update your application. The Student Aid Commission cannot accept late FAFSAs or California Dream Act Applications for Cal Grant consideration.
  • The FAFSA is the application for federal student aid like Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), TEACH Grant, and federal student loans as well as state financial aid like Cal Grants. Most institutions also use the FAFSA for institutional need-based financial aid.
  • The California Dream Act Application is the application non-citizens will use to apply for High School Entitlement Cal Grant A and B awards, Community College Transfer Entitlement A and B awards, and Cal Grant C. The Dream Application is also used for institutional Dream Act financial aid and California Community Colleges Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOG fee waiver).
  • Find more information about money for college in the Fund Your Future brochure, Fund Your Future Magazine and the More Ways to Pay Fact Sheet.
  • Out-of-State Students - In most cases, Cal Grants are only for California residents —those who are or will be a California resident for at least one year by the application deadline. If you’re under 18 years of age, your residency is determined by your parent's state of legal residence. However, if your college or university determines you are AB 540-eligible, then you may be eligible for Cal Grants, institutional grants, or BOG fee waivers.
  • Financial Aid Checklists - Use these checklists to help you plan and pay for college.
  • Explore Colleges - Take some time to explore colleges:

Learn more about the Cal Grant and other financial aid at: Financial Aid Programs