Eligibility Changes as a Result of the 2012 Budget Act


To participate in the Cal Grant Program, a California university or college must have an approved Institutional Participation Agreement with the California Student Aid Commission and meet certain requirements in California law.

The State of California has put new eligibility qualifications on Cal Grant participating schools.

Qualifying schools must now:

  • Keep their federal student loan Cohort Default Rate (CDR) below 15.5% to remain eligible for participation in the Cal Grant Program. That means that 84.5% or more of the institution’s federal student loan borrowers must be successfully repaying their loans within 3 years of completing their certificates or degrees.
  • Keep their graduation rate above 30% to remain eligible for participation in the Cal Grant Program. That means that more than 30% of an institution’s students are completing their certificate or degree within 150% of the published program length. For example,
    • Their graduates complete a 4-year BA or BS degree in 6 years or less.
    • Their graduates complete a 2-year Associate or Transfer degree in 3 years or less.
    • Their graduates complete a 6-month certificate in 9 months or less.
  • Only schools with more than 40% of their students borrowing federal student loans have to meet the CDR and graduation rate requirements.
  • A limited exception in law allows institutions that do not meet the graduation threshold to continue to be eligible through the 2016-17 academic year if their CDR is below 10% and their graduation rate is above 20%.

What schools meet the new CDR and graduation rate requirements?

  • All 10 UC campuses qualify.
  • All 23 CSU campuses qualify.
  • All 112 California Community Colleges qualify.
  • Many private 4-year and 2-year universities and colleges qualify.
  • Some private career and technical colleges qualify.

Institutional Eligibility for Cal Grant Participation — Frequently Asked Questions

Program Changes for students:

Students initially qualifying for both Cal Grant A and Cal Grant B , but awarded a Cal Grant B, may renew in subsequent years as a Cal Grant A if they do not meet the Cal Grant B financial need renewal requirements but do meet the Cal Grant A requirements.

Community College Transfer Entitlement Award recipients must have attended a community college in the academic year immediately preceding the year for which the award applies. However, the 2012 Budget Act made a one-time exception to permit students who attended a community college in the 2011-12 academic year to apply for a Transfer Entitlement award in 2012-13 or 2013-14.