COVID19

Overview

CSAC’s Response to COVID-19

Marlene Garcia California Student Aid Commission

The COVID-19 crisis has uprooted all of our lives, especially the lives of our students whose college experience has turned into a virtual one overnight. We at the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) applaud segments and campuses for pivoting quickly to ensure students remain on their educational path. We also recognize equity gaps have widened due to COVID-19. Many students relied on on-campus resources such as technology, internet access, jobs, shelter and cafeterias. We cannot afford to let our most vulnerable students fall through the cracks. 

CSAC is committed to ensuring students have accurate information and resources regarding their financial aid packages during the COVID-19 crisis. Our team is diligently monitoring the situation and is compiling a list of resources and frequently asked questions. As California continues to navigate this global pandemic, CSAC will help our state’s students—especially those whose struggle with food and rent is heightened by this crisis—have access to real-time guidance and resources. Student success in college will play a major role in the state’s economic recovery. This is the time to double-down and support students during this time of economic uncertainty and make higher education financially accessible for all Californians.

Marlene Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission

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For Students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will CSAC be extending the Late GPA Appeal deadline for competitive students due to school closures during this time? There has been no change for the GPA submission process for the Competitive Cal Grant program. On May 19, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order extending the Late GPA deadline from May 18, 2020 to September 2, 2020 for Cal Grant Entitlement (see link for requirements) students.  Students must have submitted a FAFSA or CADAA by the March 2nd deadline in order to qualify for this extended GPA submission deadline. CSAC encourages students to contact their campus to complete and provide the GPA form, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure CSAC receives the verified GPA.  If there are any changes to our programs, we will communicate them to your campus and will post updates on our CSAC website.

2. Will I still be able to receive my Cal Grant award if my classes were transitioned to online courses due to COVID-19? Since the school is responsible for Cal Grant payments, please work with your financial aid office to resolve questions and issues concerning your eligibility to receive payments.  Schools disburse the funds to their students based on their disbursement schedules. If the school determines that a student is not eligible, they have the authority to withdraw the award.

3. If I am not able to complete my courses due to COVID-19, what steps do I need to take to keep my Cal Grant? We have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer. For any semester/term you will not be receiving a Cal Grant payment, you will need to place a leave of absence to put a hold on your account for that time.  Leave of Absences can be used for up to two years during the time of the Cal Grant award for each participant.  You can place a leave of absence by creating and logging into your account at https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov .  If you are unable to access your account, you may also complete the Grant Record Change Form (G-10) to request the Leave of Absence.

4How will I receive my Cal Grant payment since my school’s financial aid office is closed? Since the school is responsible for disbursing Cal Grant payments, please work with your financial aid office to resolve questions and issues concerning your ability to receive payments.  Schools disburse the funds to their students based on their disbursement schedules. If the school determines that a student is not eligible, they have the authority to withdraw the award. If you find it difficult to receive assistance from your school, please contact our Student Support Call Center at (888) 224-7268.

5. I missed the March 2nd filing deadline due to COVID-19. May I still be considered for a Cal Grant? Students who are attending a California Community college in the Fall 2020 term and have completed a FAFSA or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) have a second chance to compete for a Cal Grant award.  To be considered,  CSAC must have both a completed FAFSA/CADAA on file and a GPA Verification Form postmarked by September 2nd, 2020.   

If you will not be attending a California Community College, and feel you have circumstances outside of your control that caused a late submission of your application, you may file a Cal Grant Appeal Form (G-18) to have your case reviewed. Please note, our appeals may take 6-8 weeks processing time for you to receive a response.

6. My high school graduation has been delayed due to COVID-19. How does this affect my eligibility for the Cal Grant award? Currently, we have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer.  If you will still be graduating high school in the 2020 academic year, and have submitted your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) and GPA Verification Form by the March 2nd deadline, you will still be eligible to be considered for our High School Entitlement Cal Grant Award.

7. What date do I use to confirm my high school graduation for my to-do list on WebGrants 4 Students? When confirming your High School Graduation date for High School Entitlement Cal Grant Award, you should use the date that is listed on your High School Diploma, High School Transcripts, or the completion date of your high school graduation equivalency document (such as HiSet, TASC, GED, CHSPE).  Please note, you must wait until the month of your graduation to complete this requirement.  You may complete the certification by creating and logging into your account at https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov.

8. My household has suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19.  How does this affect my eligibility for the Cal Grant award? Currently, we have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer. To see the Cal Grant Income and Asset ceilings please visit https://www.csac.ca.gov/post/cal-grant-income-and-asset-ceilings.  To make a change to your income information, please contact the financial aid office at your college and inquire about filing a loss of income appeal through the school. At the conclusion of the process, your school’s financial aid office will work with the Institution Support Unit at CSAC so we can make any necessary corrections in our system.  These changes may impact your Cal Grant eligibility.

 9. Will the Cal Grant award amounts be increased to help students who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19? As of right now, the state is working to address several options that will be designed to assist students and California residents.  Currently, we have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer. We encourage you to contact your financial aid office at your college to see if there are any programs or additional assistance, they are aware of that you may be able to apply for.  If there are any changes to our programs, we will communicate them to your institution and post the information on our CSAC website.

10. Will I still be required to verify that I have registered for selective service to get a Cal Grant?  Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order on May 19, 2020 waiving the requirement for students that apply for financial aid via the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) to verify Selective Service registration to be eligible to receive a Cal Grant for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.  Students are still required to complete the selective service registration.

Undocumented/Dreamer Student Resources

State

California DACA Updates during COVID19

Ca.gov: California Immigrant Guide (COVID19): Information on public charge, protecting yourself, and if you get sick and don’t have health insurance.

Institutions

UC: California DREAM Loan Program & CSU: California DREAM Loan Program (Cal State LA) : The California Dream Loan is a subsidized loan program specifically developed to assist the California Dream Act students, also known as an AB-540 student, to cover the cost of attending a UC/CSU.

California Community Colleges: Undocumented Student Resource Center

We encourage students to contact their campus’ financial aid and scholarships office for questions about their financial aid packages and availability of emergency grants or loans. If applicable, we also encourage students to visit their campus’ Dreamer/Undocumented Student Resource Center.

Organizations

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance: Resources for Undocumented People

Immigrants Rising: Tangible support for undocumented communities during COVID-19.

Immigrants Rising: Beyond DACA

Informed Immigrant DACA Updates During the COVID-19 Crisis: Resources in California and other states for the Undocumented community during COVID-19

Undocumented/Dreamer Student FAQ

Financial Aid and Resources Amid COVID-19

1. What financial aid is available to Undocumented Students? What if I don’t have DACA, can I still receive financial aid? Undocumented students who meet Assembly Bill 540 requirements are eligible to complete the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) even if they do not possess a Social Security Number or were not granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Financially qualified students who are AB 540 eligible and complete an on-time CADAA can qualify for the following types of financial aid from the state of California and California college campuses. Students should be mindful of application deadlines:

  • Cal Grant, Middle Class Scholarship, and the Chafee Grant for foster youth.
  • UC Grants, State University Grants
  • California Community College (CCC) California Promise Grant
  • EOP/EOPS
  • Some University scholarships

Additionally, undocumented students with or without DACA may be eligible for private scholarships:

For more information about the California Dream Act Application, AB 540, or state financial aid programs that are available to undocumented students, please refer to our website resources, or contact the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC):

2. I don’t think I qualify for financial aid as an undocumented student, should I fill out a CADAA application? Great news! Undocumented students who meet certain requirements under Assembly Bill 540 are eligible to submit a CADAA to apply for the types of financial aid itemized in question #1.  To find out if you are eligible to submit the CADAA, you must access the California Dream Act Application.  The application starts out with questions to help determine whether you meet AB 540 requirements and are eligible to submit the CADAA.

3. One of my parents lost their job due to COVID-19, so I don’t think I’ll be able to afford college next year. Should I still submit my CADAA? Students who are AB 540 eligible should still submit a CADAA, even if they think they will not be able to go to college next year. Keep in mind that through the CADAA, you are applying for multiple sources of financial aid: California state financial aid; campus financial aid from community colleges, California State Universities (CSU); and Universities of California (UC). In addition, applying for private scholarships may also require submission of a CADAA. Think of it this way- if you choose not to apply, you will not receive financial aid, so just apply and see what happens.

Impact to Financial Aid

4. My household has suffered loss of income due to COVID-19. How can I receive additional financial aid? Currently, legislation has not made any specific changes to the programs we administer. To see how to apply for the Cal Grant, Middle Class Scholarship, or Chafee Grant for Foster Youth, please visit our website at https://www.csac.ca.gov/how-apply. 

If you have suffered a loss of income and need to report a change to your income information, please contact the financial aid office at your college to inquire about filing a loss of income appeal through the school. Many schools also have a section on their website that deals specifically with “Special Circumstances”, sometimes referred to as a “Professional Judgement”. Upon approval of the appeal, your school’s financial aid office will work with the CA Student Aid Commission so we can make any necessary corrections in our system.  These changes may impact your Cal Grant eligibility.

5. Will the GPA eligibility requirement for the transfer entitlement award be changed? On May 20, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order which extends the deadline by which Cal Grant applicants must submit their Grade Point Average (GPA) from March 2, 2020 to September 2, 2020. This extended deadline applies to students who submitted a financial aid application by the pertinent deadline but do not yet have a verified GPA on file. Additionally, it waives the verification of Selective Service registration for students applying for financial aid via the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. Read the governor’s Executive Order: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/5.19.20-EO-N-65-20-text.pdf

6. Will this semester be counted against the remaining duration of my Cal Grant if I drop to zero units because of COVID-19 related issues? Any term for which you receive a disbursement utilizes a percentage of the lifetime duration of your Cal Grant. If you do not receive a disbursement, it does not impact the remaining duration of the Cal Grant. However, students should contact the financial aid office at their school of attendance. Schools will follow their policies when it comes to the administration of financial aid impacted by COVID-19.

For any current or future semester/term that you will not be attending college, you will need to place a Leave of Absence to put a hold on your account for that term.  Leaves of Absence can be used for up to two years, and do not impact the remaining duration of your Cal Grant.  You can report a Leave of Absence by creating and logging into your account at https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov.  If you are unable to access your account, you may also complete the Grant Record Change Form (G-10) to request the Leave of Absence.

7. I lost my job due to COVID-19 and had to withdraw from classes because I can no longer afford tuition. How does this impact my financial aid? For any current or future semester/term that you will not be attending college, you will need to place a Leave of Absence to put a hold on your account for that term.  Leaves of Absence can be used for up to two years, and do not impact the remaining duration of your Cal Grant.  You can report a Leave of Absence by creating and logging into your account at https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov.  If you are unable to access your account, you may also complete the Grant Record Change Form (G-10) to request the Leave of Absence.

8. Will CADAA students’ financial aid be affected once COVID-19 is over? Will it not change, or will there be other assistance to undocumented students? As of right now, the state is working to address several options that will be designed to assist students and California residents.  Currently, we have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer. We encourage you to contact your financial aid office at your college to see if there are any programs or additional assistance they are aware of, that you may be able to apply for.  If there are any changes to our programs, we will communicate them to your institution and post the information on our CSAC website.

9. Is the Cal Grant amount expected to reduce (change)? Cal Grant award amounts are subject to the annual budgeting process but are not expected to change. Currently, we have not made any specific changes to the programs we administer.  To view our current Cal Grant award amounts, please visit our FAQ at https://www.csac.ca.gov/post/what-are-cal-grant-award-amounts. We also encourage you to contact your financial aid office at your college to see if there are any programs or additional assistance they are aware of, that you may be able to apply for.  If there are any changes to our programs, we will communicate them to your institution and post the information on our CSAC website.

10. Some students have not received their disbursements. The Financial Aid department said that we need to provide some documents.  What is this about? If you are expecting a disbursement but have not received it yet, there are several possible reasons. First, you will want to create a WebGrants 4 Students account to check for any pending requirements. WebGrants 4 Students is the student portal for all California state financial aid, and informs students if they are missing certain requirements, such as a GPA or confirmation of high school graduation. Students can also confirm or change the college they are attending, report a Leave of Absence, and update their address and contact information. 

Next, since schools are responsible for disbursing Cal Grant payments, please work with your Financial Aid Office to resolve questions and issues concerning your ability to receive payments.  Schools determine which documents must be provided to verify your eligibility to receive financial aid. If the school determines that a student is not eligible, they have the authority to withdraw the award. Documents need to be submitted to the school by June 30th (end of the academic year). 

If you find it difficult to receive assistance from your school, please contact our Student Support Call Center at (888) 224-7268.

About CSAC/General Financial Aid

11. Will ICE get our information if we file CADAA? The California Dream Act Application is a proprietary application to the California Student Aid Commission. This means that the application is ours and we will only share information collected on the application for the sole purposes of awarding students financial aid. The California Student Aid Commission protects student information collected through the California Dream Act Application to the fullest extent of the law.

12. Can CSAC make the CADAA online application easier to navigate? We are currently in the process of updating our CA Dream Act website to make the application easier to navigate and compatible on most devices and browsers.  We will be providing more information and training resources on our websites at https://dream.csac.ca.gov and https://www.csac.ca.gov in the coming months.

13. Will applying for CADAA jeopardize me in the future? No, applying for and receiving grants and scholarships through the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) will not jeopardize your ability to obtain U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. There has been much confusion about what constitutes a “public charge” but financial aid for students is not considered a public charge. For more information on what is and is not considered public charge please visit https://www.uscis.gov/news/fact-sheets/public-charge-fact-sheet.

14. Where can I get help to fill out my CADAA? Starting October 1 through June 30 of every year, students and families can attend FREE Cash for College virtual workshops for help with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act (CADAA) and Chafee Grant for Foster Youth applications. Remember, applying for financial aid is free- don’t pay someone to submit your financial aid application. Get the help you need by attending a FREE, online Cash for College workshop.  All you need is a computer with internet access. Go to the Cash For College website, https://cash4college.csac.ca.gov/, to request a complete list of workshops dates and times.

Foster Youth Resources

General Resources

What is My Institution Saying?

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For Institutions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQs: Impact of COVID-19 on Commission Programs

Institutional Support Update

CSAC Institutional Support Unit Statement:

CSAC’s Institutional Support Unit (ISU) has received several questions about the CARES Act and its impact on financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working closely with our financial aid partners to develop detailed responses. More information will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

We know institutions are facing rapidly changing conditions and want to remind institutions that they should follow their policies when it comes to the administration of financial aid for their students. If there are unique and specific scenarios, please reach out to ISU.

As of today, CSAC continues to process Cal Grants and MCS according to our regular processes. Payments and rosters continue to be updated weekly. ISU phone hours are 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM and staff can be reached at 888-294-0153. Emails can be sent to schoolsupport@csac.ca.gov. Institutions will be notified if there are any changes.

Training and Outreach Update

The Director of Public Health and the Governor of the State of California have enacted a Shelter in Place Order for all non-essential employees in order to preserve the health and safety of all Californians. The California Student Aid Commission’s Training and Outreach Unit is following state guidelines for this order. As such, in order to continue serving the needs of our partners at high schools, colleges and advocacy groups, we will be transitioning all training and outreach workshops and events to a virtual format. Until the Shelter in Place mandate is lifted and it is safe to resume travelling and gathering for in-person meetings, our Regional Trainings, Annual Statewide Financial Aid Workshops, Cash 4 College workshops and Ad Hoc events will be administered on a virtual format. We appreciate your patience as we all work together to continue to support California’s students and each other.

External Training Request