Institutional Participation Criteria


Postsecondary education institutions that would like to disburse Cal Grant funds must be deemed eligible as a qualifying institution. California Education Code 69432.7(l)(1) defines a qualifying institution as meeting one of the following criteria:

1. California private or independent postsecondary educational institution that participates in the Pell Grant Program and in at least two of the following federal student aid programs:

  • Federal Work-Study Program.
  • Federal Stafford Loan Program.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program.

2. A nonprofit institution headquartered and operating in California that certifies to the Commission that (a) 10 percent of the institution’s operating budget, as demonstrated in an audited financial statement, is expended for purposes of institutionally funded student financial aid in the form of grants, (b) demonstrates to the Commission that it has the administrative capacity to administer the funds, (c ) is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and (d) meets any other state-required criteria adopted by regulation by the Commission in consultation with the Department of Finance. 

3. A California public postsecondary educational institution.

Additionally, the institution must have a federal student loan borrower’s rate of 40 percent or less for undergraduate students, otherwise, be below the three year cohort default rate of 15.5 percent and be above the graduation rate of 30 percent.

Institutions use the Cal Grant Institutional Participation Agreement (IPA) to apply for Cal Grant initial participation, renewal, or to update a current approval. Updates include changes such as, but not limited to, a change of ownership or structure, name or address change, new location or program, or change of officials.

An institution that meets the requirement of a qualifying institution and is interested in participating in Cal Grant Program should submit a request for certification via email to Please provide the name of your institution, the six digit Office of Postsecondary Education Identification number, and under which requirement your institution meets the qualifying institution definition.