California College Grants

Every year, thousands of California students receive excellent financial support from the state which allows them to pursue higher education at publicly and privately funded postsecondary institutions in the state. California residents who are planning on attending accredited colleges and universities within California can take advantage of several excellent grant programs. A number of the state’s key grant programs offer both merit-based and need-based aid, and can be utilized by students of all socioeconomic backgrounds who have earned good grade point averages (GPAs) throughout their high school years. State-sponsored grants reduce the tuition burden of many California students by thousands of dollars per year.

Most people understand the importance of securing a college education; however, the means to pay for this degree is not always within view. College and university costs are soaring. An education is becoming more and more expensive. Nonetheless, do not let this discourage you, California offers college grant funds that can lighten your financial load. A grant is a form of need-based aid. These gifts do not demand repayment.

Students from California can also take advantage of grants offered through foundations and schools and community organizations. In addition, business and organizations in a student’s local area may offer special scholarship and grant programs to local students. Many key grant programs are outlined below. Students should also be sure to ask the advisors of any school or community organizations in which they participate if grant funds are available. In general, students can use their grant funds within the California State University (CSU) system, University of California (UC) system, at community colleges, and at private institutions accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC). Many students will also be able to use their grant assistance at qualified vocational and technical schools in California.

Of course, California students are also qualified to receive grant and loan assistance through the federal government. The initial step in almost all grant applications is completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA can be filled out online. Undergraduate students and students under the age of 24 almost always need to include their parents’ financial information on this form. Filling out the FAFSA will allow you to be considered for federal direct loan programs, Pell Grants, and other forms of federal financial assistance for higher education. Please note that the deadline for state administered grant programs in California is earlier than the federal FAFSA deadline. You should fill out and send in your FAFSA by March 2nd every year in order to be considered for California grant programs.

California Student Aid Commission Grant & Scholarship Programs

The Cal Grant Program California State Flag.

The Cal Grant program provides essential financial support to tens of thousands of students attending college in California. Each Cal Grant award offers two categories of aid. The first category of aid is called entitlement aid. Entitlement aid is given to students who have met the Aid Commission’s requirements for the Cal Grants program and whose family will have financial needs based upon that student’s estimated college costs. Your family’s estimated college costs are determined when you fill out the FAFSA. All California students who meet the requirements for entitlement aid are guaranteed to receive Cal Grants. The second category of aid offered under the Cal Grant program is called competitive aid. Competitive grants are available to students who do not fully meet the criteria of the Cal Grant Entitlement program but are otherwise eligible for aid. Keep in mind that competitive grants are not guaranteed.

Cal Grants can only be used at approved institutions within the State of California. Students can determine if the school they plan on attending is eligible to receive a Cal Grant by using the CSAC’s online tool to determine school eligibility.

Cal Grant A These awards offer students between $5,000 and $12,000 per academic year, depending on the qualified California institution which they attend. In order to be eligible for this award, you will need to be planning to study in a two or four year degree program. During high school, you need to have earned at least a 3.0 GPA. Students who plan on attending a community college for one year before continuing to a four year college or university will have their grant funds placed on reserve. Students who complete two years at a community college in California, hold a 2.4 GPA, and are residents of the state will also be eligible for the Cal Grant A when they transfer to a four year institution. Students who have completed a GED can submit their GED, SAT, or ACT scores in place of the GPA. Students who wish to apply for a Cal Grant with a GED must do so within one year of receiving their GED.

The Cal Grant A funds are sent directly to the school which you attend and are used to cover costs billed by the school. These costs may include tuition, student services fees, and on-campus housing fees. This grant can reduce the cost of tuition at public institutions to a negligible amount and is prized by California students.

Cal Grant B This Cal Grant program awards students from low-income families a living allowance and money to purchase books and necessary school supplies. After the first year of participation in this grant program, students are also offered tuition and fee assistance. The tuition and fee assistance is for the same amount as that offered under the Cal Grant A program. In order to secure these grants, students must meet all the financial need criteria of the Student Aid Commission and must have maintained a 2.0 GPA throughout college. The Cal Grant B is also offered to qualified students who have completed two years of education at a community college and have maintained a 2.4 GPA.

Cal Grant C Students who plan on attending vocational schools or technical colleges accredited within the State of California are eligible for Cal Grant C award. Students who wish to use this award must be enrolled in vocational programs at community colleges or accredited institutions. Their programs must be at least four months in length. While there is no GPA requirement for this Cal Grant, students do need to complete a supplemental form and will be asked to provide information about their work history and vocational aptitude. This grant awards students assistance in purchasing books, supplies, and tools needed for their vocational program. It also pays some of the cost of tuition and fees at vocational schools. The supplemental form for this program asks students to identify the field in which they intend to study. You will complete this supplement online when you fill out your Cal Grant application.

Cal Grant T In the past, the Cal Grant T has provided financial assistance to students studying to become teachers. Unfortunately, the T program has been discontinued due to budget constraints. You may still see this program listed on the California Aid Commission website. The commission provides information for students who were awarded this form of aid previously but has not offered these awards since 2003.

Cal Grant Application Requirements & Deadline

  • Visit the California Student Aid Commission website to make sure that they have the most up-to-date information about programs and eligibility.
  • Complete the FAFSA at the Federal Student Aid website prior to March 2nd.
  • Find out if your high school will submit a verified GPA to the Student Aid Commission for you. If your school does not offer this service, you will need to fill out the GPA Verification Form and send it to the California Student Aid Commission prior to March 2nd.
  • Track the status of your loan online and be sure to fill out and send any follow-up forms that the Student Aid Commission may request.
  • You should received a notification about your eligibility for a Cal Grant Award by April 30th. If you have not received a letter by that date, you should contact the Student Aid Commission by calling 1-888-CA-GRANT.
  • When you receive your financial aid award from the college you will be attending, make sure that your Cal Grant award is listed. If it is not, contact your school’s financial aid department immediately.

The Chafee Grant Program

The California Chafee Grant is awarded to students who are, or were, in foster care. Chafee Grants provide financial assistance to students who are studying at a public institution in California, at a vocational or technical school, at an accredited private college in California, or at some accredited institutions in other states. The Chafee Grant currently awards up to $5,000 per year to qualified students to cover the cost of tuition and fees.

Chaffee Grant Requirements & Deadlines

  • Students must be under the age of 22 when they apply for a Chaffee Grant. These grants can be renewed as long as the student is 23 years of age or younger.
  • Some students who have been in foster care may not have a social security number. You will need a SSN in order to apply for student aid. If you do not have one, talk to the guidance counselor at your school or to your social worker.
  • In order to receive a Chaffee Grant, students must complete the FAFSA.
  • Students also need to fill out the Online Chaffee Grant Application.
  • A Chaffee Needs Analysis Report (NAR) must also be filled out by your school. Your school may submit this information for you electronically. If they do not, you will need to fill out the NAR form and send it to the Chaffee Grant Program.
  • The California Department of Social Services will verify that you are, or were, in foster care.
  • You will receive a letter that notifies you if you will be receiving a Chaffee Grant.
  • Remember to fill out your Chaffee Grant application prior to March 2nd.

Child Development Grant Program

This program helps students who would like to run certified day care or child care centers with the costs of their education. It also assists students who would like to be teachers or administrators at child care centers and preschool programs. Many community colleges offer programs which lead to the awarding of a Child Development Permit, which is the necessary certification in this field. In order to receive these grants, students will need to attend school at least half-time and should apply through the school which they are attending. Employers can also sponsor students who wish to apply for these awards.

Child Development Grant Requirements & Deadline

  • Candidates must promise to teach in a California child care center or preschool.
  • In order to apply, candidates must be nominated by either their school or their employer.
  • The nomination packet and further information about these awards can be found online.
  • The deadline for Child Development Grant applications is June 15th. These grants may be renewed.
  • If you are eligible, you will receive a letter that notifies you of your award.

The Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program (LEPD)

This grant program offers the qualified spouses and children of qualified law enforcement officers who have been killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty financial assistance to attend an institution of higher learning. Eligible officers include Highway Patrol Officers, sheriffs and deputies, police officers, correctional officers (within the California Correctional & Rehabilitation system and the California Youth Authority), and permanent fire fighters who were employed by a public department or organization. The amount of these grants is commensurate with that of Cal Grant awards. They can be renewed on a yearly basis while the student is completing their undergraduate education. Students must be enrolled in at least six units per semester in a qualified public university or private postsecondary institution in order to receive these awards.

LEPD Grant Requirements & Deadlines

  • Students must fill out the FAFSA and must demonstrate financial need.
  • Students must fill out the LEPD application.
  • The department which your parent or guardian served for at the time of their death or disability-causing injury can help you with any certification processes you need to complete.
  • Students should fill out this application by March 2nd.
  • If you are eligible, you will receive a letter that notifies you of your award.

The California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNG EEAP)

These awards are available to students who have served for at least two years in the state division of the National Guard, in the Naval Militia, or in the State Military Reserve. These awards provide financial support to students who wish to obtain a certification or degree at a qualified education institution. In order the participate in this program, students must commit to serve with the reserve while they are receiving their award. Students will need to take at least three units every semester and must maintain a GPA of 2.0 while they are receiving the award.

CNG EEAP Requirements & Application

  • The student must have already served two years in a qualified Guard position at the time of their application.
  • Students must fill out the FAFSA prior to March 2nd.
  • Students must fill out the CNG EEAP application. Students who fill out this application prior to mid April will have a better chance of receiving awards than those who fill out the application late.
  • Students need to complete a Statement of Understanding and have it signed by their commanding officer.
  • Students must continue to serve in their qualified Guard post while they are receiving this aid.

The John R. Justice Grant Program

This is a relatively new program that is administered through the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), the Bureau of Justice (BJA), and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). This program offers qualified attorneys and students who have recently passed their bar exam some measure of loan forgiveness in exchange for serving as prosecutors or public defenders. Candidates must promise to work in this field of public service for at least three years. Students who are considering a career in law should keep the John R. Justice program in mind. Further information can be found at the Cal EMA website.

The Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE)

While not traditional grants, APLE loan assumptions are available to students who are studying to become credentialed teachers, to teaching interns in qualified schools districts in the State of California, and to credentialed teachers who teach in schools which are low-ranking and are considered to be particularly needy schools. They are also available to students and teachers who are training to teach in academic fields where there are shortages of qualified teachers. Full information about who qualifies for the APLE program is available in an APLE program fact sheet. If you are considering becoming a teacher, you should keep this program in mind. You will need to apply to participate in this program after you have completed 60 to 90 units in school and have enrolled in a credential track program.

State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education (SNAPLE)

The SNAPLE program is similar to the APLE program. It is offered to nurses and students who intend to become registered nurses. In order to qualify, nurses or prospective nurses must commit to work in certain state-run medical facilities with a vacancy rate in the nursing profession of at least 10%. If you are interested in becoming a nurse, you should review the SNAPLE application packet to stay apprised of requirements and deadlines for this program.

Other Significant Grant & Scholarship Sources For California Students

The California Hall Of Fame Dreamers Challenge

Every year, the California Museum offers high school seniors the opportunity to contribute creatively to California history and to win a $5,000 grant to be used towards their college education. Students who wish to apply will create a poem, essay, multimedia presentation, or other work of art to communicate their dream to The California Museum. Students communicate how their dream can help impact the world for the better. This Challenge offers a unique opportunity for students to earn money for college and to attend a special event at The California Museum, where their work will be put on display.

Teaching Credential Grant

Another California college grant is referred to as the Teaching Credential Grant. Prospective teachers can garner this money from their college aid offices. The highest amount distributed is currently $1,800. Funds are passed out until the monies run out. The standard application deadline of March 2 is applicable to this grant.

Comparatively, the California Teach Grant is for future educators. Future teachers can get $4,000 to help with school costs. This amount is an annual award. You want to meet the March 2 application deadline.

Dreamers Challenge Requirements & Deadline

  • Students must be high school seniors who will graduate in the school year in which they are applying.
  • Students must create an original essay or work of art.
  • Students must fill out an Entry form and must send copies of their work, digital or otherwise, to The California Museum.
  • The deadline to apply for the Dreamers Challenge Awards is generally October 15th, though this is subject to change. You should check the Dreamers Challenge website for information about the current contest and deadline.

The California Association of Collectors (CAC) Educational Scholarship

The California Association of Collectors offer this scholarship to three high school seniors who can succinctly explain the importance of maintaining good credit throughout their college years. Students do not need to be related to members of the CAC in order to apply for these awards. These awards are currently offered in three different amounts for first, second, and third place.

CAC Educational Scholarship Requirements & Deadline

  • Students must be high school seniors enrolled in a California high school.
  • Students must begin study at an accredited college or university within twelve months of receiving the award.
  • Students must complete a brief essay detailing why maintaing good credit throughout their college years is important.
  • Students must complete the scholarship application for this award.
  • The award application deadline is generally in mid-January.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) 11-99 Foundation Scholarship

The California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation offers scholarships to the children and dependents of current or former employees of the CHP. The children and dependents of CHP officers and administrative and support staff at the CHP are eligible for these awards. For more information on current application procedures and the deadline you will need to meet, visit the CHP 11-99 Foundation website. Your local CHP office should also be able to provide you with information about these awards.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) Scholarships

Every year, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association offers scholarships to the spouses and dependents of correctional officers. Information about the current year’s program, eligibility requirements, and application procedure can be found at the CCPOA website.

The California Scholarship Federation (CSF) Seymour Award

California high school students who plan on attending college need to work to receive good grades. They should also participate in clubs and organizations, and should complete community service activities as well. The California Scholarship Federation (CSF) is a student organization that recognizes achievement, potential, and dedication to academics. Interested students should check with the guidance counselors at their high school to find out if there is a CSF chapter. CSF provides students with invaluable information about grants and scholarships, and offers an annual Seymour Award to deserving students. The adviser at your school’s CSF chapter can explain how to apply for membership and how to apply for awards and opportunities offered through the organization.

The Professional Businesswomen of California (PBC) Scholarship Program

The Professional Businesswomen of California offer scholarships to deserving young women in California every year. The scholarship programs offered vary from year to year. Students who are interested in these opportunities should visit the PBC website and get in touch with the scholarship coordinator to see what opportunities are currently available. Individual chapters of PBC can also be contacted for information regarding scholarships and awards.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Scholarships

The Association of California Water Agencies offers two $3,000 scholarships to California college juniors and seniors every year. Students must attend publicly funded colleges or universities in California in order to be eligible for these awards. These awards are targeted at students who are studying in a field related to water policy. Some students studying water-related issues in agricultural programs may also be eligible for these awards.

The ACWA Scholarship Requirements & Deadlines

  • Students must be juniors or seniors who are attending universities in the CSU or UC systems.
  • Students must be studying in a field related to water policy.
  • Students should complete an application.
  • The deadline for applications is April 1st.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is based in San Francisco and has been offering assistance to students since 1975. Though this program is no longer specific to California, it offers excellent scholarships to Latino/a students who would like to pursue higher education in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students must have a 3.0 GPA in order to qualify for HSF scholarships. More information about these scholarship programs can be found at the HSF website.

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) Scholarship Program

The FFA is certainly not specific to California. Students from around the nation who participate in FFA are eligible to apply for scholarships. The agriculture and farming industries form a significant portion of the economy in California. Students should apply for FFA scholarship if they are interested in continuing their education in the agriculture field. Special programs may be offered in your community or county for qualified FFA members. Be sure to check with your FFA chapter’s advisor for any specific opportunities. Interested students should fill out the FFA Scholarship Application. This application may help you qualify for scholarships funded by major agricultural companies and organizations within California.

Federal Grants Programs

The supplementary (FSEOG) award complements the Pell. Pell Grants are reserved for those with exceptional need. In California a student can expect to receive around $2,000 from this grant funding. The early bird will definitely get the worm in this case. Awards are dispensed on a first come basis. Your target application date 2 March.

Furthermore, an International Student Grant is obtainable for non U.S. citizens that hold a F1 visa. The foreign student must achieve a minimum of a C average in all subjects. Also, the student must prove that a sponsor can pay for 75% of the educational costs. If these criteria are satisfied, the state of California will confer an award for $4,500 for an international undergraduate student. Applications are deemed late after March 31. It is unlikely you will win get the international aid if deadlines are not achieved.

The University Award/Grant is among other available resources. The student that wishes to gain this assistance should have grades that do not fall below the standard 3.0. Funds in the amount of $8,278 are granted to successful recipients. For full award consideration, please turn in paperwork by March 2. A partial award can be issued with documents surrendered by the time period of March 3-July 31.

Other Assistance For California Students California State Seal.

The California State University and University of California systems are very large, encompassing dozens of campuses all over the state. Each campus has its own set of available awards and grants for eligible students. If you plan on attending a CSU or UC campus, you should speak with an admissions counselor about what particular opportunities that campus might offer. The financial aid award letter you receive from your school should outline what specific institutional grants and scholarships you are being offered. Remember that you must accept or decline all offered awards prior to the start of the school year.

Because California is such a large state, students should be mindful of the many scholarship and grant opportunities offered in their own communities. Students can consult with guidance counselors at their schools and advisers of clubs and organizations in which they participate. Your guidance counselor’s office should offer you up-to-date financial aid resources. They should also maintain a list of local scholarship and grant opportunities for which you may be eligible. Many local organizations also offer small scholarships to students. Some of the organizations students should be sure to check with are:

  • The Rotary Club. Local Rotarians often provide scholarships and grants to qualified students. In addition, local Rotary Clubs sponsor a yearly speech contest that allows students who are interested in public speaking to showcase their skills and earn monetary awards. While these awards do not have to be used for college, they can prove very helpful for the college-bound student.
  • The Kiwanis Club. Like the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis often offer scholarships and grants to local students. Circle K is the high school and college branch of the Kiwanis organization. The Kiwanis are particularly focused on community service and give awards to students who have contributed to their schools and communities.
  • The Soroptimists. This club is for women who are dedicated to community service and business leadership. Your local Soroptimist club may offer scholarships to promising young women who plan to pursue higher education.
  • Local banks and credit unions. These financial offices often offer scholarships and grants to students. You should check with your local credit unions in particular, as they are more likely than banks to be locally owned and operated.
  • Churches and other community-based organizations. These bodies may offer scholarships to students. If you attend a church or work for an organization with national offices, remember to check with an organization leader about scholarship and grant opportunities.
  • Local historical societies. These societies sometimes give awards to students who want to study history or related fields.
  • Local law enforcement offices. If your parent(s) or guardian(s) works in law enforcement, you may be eligible for scholarships and grants awarded by local police and sheriff’s departments. Remember that you should apply for a LEPD grant if your parent was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

California has a selection of college grants that can make your college journey less cumbersome. It is up to the individual to take advantage of all possible resources. Loans do not have to be your only solution for financing a great college degree. The grants listed are a good foundation for you to build upon; information is power; thus, it is in your control to make the dream happen. The future rewards belong to those that labor diligently and smartly. Hard work is good, but strategic work coupled with a solid education is better.

Given recent budget issues in California and nationwide, students should be diligent in checking the California Student Aid Commission website to keep up-to-date with changes in grant programs and award amounts. For several years, the state government has warned that Cal Grants might not be funded. However, this has never actually prevented any student from receiving their award.

3 Responses to “California College Grants”

  1. Evette Rodarte says:

    Hi my name is Evette I’ve been married for a year ..I’m about to done with high school and I need to if I qualified for any grants and what schools they can work for

    Thank you,

  2. Janie Decesare says:


    I need a schorship or grant for Paris Beauty College in Concord, Ca I applied for
    Fafsa/pell grant. I didnt quaify for either. I need direction as to were else can
    I apply for a schorship

  3. Sianna Austin says:

    I want to find out is there a grant for kids that their parent did not graduate from high school?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

College Grant Information By State