Step 1: Eligibility

The Basics

Are you eligible for federal financial aid? Good question. California community colleges currently serve more than one million students with financial aid, totaling more than $2.7 billion annually (2014-15 academic year). To meet the basic requirements, you have to:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen [see the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for more detail]
  • Be registered with Selective Service (if required)
  • Be working toward a degree, certificate or eligible goal (such as transfer to a four-year college or university)
  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal educational loan
  • Be a high school graduate or have the equivalent of a high school diploma, like a California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) or a General Education Diploma (GED)
  • Not have been convicted of drug possession or sales in the recent past (see the FAFSA for more detail)

Other Factors to Consider

The amount of financial aid you can receive depends on:
  • Your family's size
  • The number of your family members in college
  • Your family's income and assets
  • Your college costs, including enrollment fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other education-related expenses

Your eligibility can depend on other things too, like when you apply, when you respond to requests from the financial aid office, and whether you have any types of special eligibility. It's important to get applications in on time and stay in communication with your college financial aid office. Your college financial aid office can explain eligibility to you in more detail and answer any specific questions you may have.

To find a financial aid office near youclick here.

Eligibility Chart

Use the chart below as a quick reference to determine the types of aid you may qualify for at California community colleges. Once you have an overview, check the Types of Aid page to find out more about how fee waivers, grants, work study, loans and scholarships can help you achieve your educational goals.

Type of Aid What You Can Get Eligibility Requirements For More Info
California College Promise Grant (Formerly known as the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver) Varies
  • If you qualify for a Cal Grant or have financial need, you may receive a fee waiver
  • Completing the FAFSA is recommended, regardless of the type of fee waiver, to qualify for other federal and state aid
  • Once you've qualified for the California College Promise Grant, it's important to ensure that you're meeting the academic and progress standards in order to avoid losing it.

Maintain BOGFW eligibility

Federal Pell Grant Up to $5,920 a year (2017-2018)
  • Your cost of attendance and expected family contribution.
  • Whether attending full or part time
  • Must not already have a bachelor's degree*
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) From $100 to $4,000 a year (funds are limited)
  • Your cost of attendance and expected family contribution
  • Priority given to the Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions
  • Whether attending full or part time
Chafee Grant Up to $5,000 a year for job training or college, in addition to any other state or federal aid you receive
  • You are or were in foster care between ages 16-18
  • Stay in school and maintain good grades
  • Be enrolled at least half time
  • Requires a Chafee Grant Application (doesn't require a social security number)
College Financial Aid office or Independent Living Coordinator
Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Up to $13,840 a year
  • Dependent or spouse of a California peace officer, firefighter or certain other law enforcement employee who died or became 100 percent disabled in the line of duty
  • Requires a Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Application or call 1-888-224-7268
American Opportunity Tax Credit Maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student
  • The full credit is available to individuals with a modified adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less, or $160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return
Federal Perkins Loan Program  Funds depend on your financial need and the availability of funds at your college
  • Available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students with exceptional financial need
Direct Subsidized Loan Program Your college determines the amount you can borrow; amount may not exceed your financial need
  • Available to undergraduate students with financial need 
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Your college determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive
  • Available to undergraduate and graduate students
  • There is no requirement to demonstrate financial need 
Cal Grants Up to $12,192 a year, based on the type of Cal Grant you receive
  • Dependent on academic, financial and eligibility requirements
Work Study Amounts Vary
  • Varies, based on when you apply, your level of financial need, and resources available to your college
Scholarships Amounts Vary
  • Varies,
or contact the financial aid office at your local community college

*Except for students working toward teacher certification or enrolled in a five-year baccalaureate program.

Financial Aid Office Locator

Enter your zip code to find the nearest financial aid office