For high school seniors and their families – it’s later than they think! The first deadline for financial aid is March 2, which is the one for applying for Cal Grants (www.calgrants.org) by students planning to go directly from high school to a four-year college (California only). Students planning to go to a community college and transferring to a 4-year college have until Sept. 2 to apply. There are several types of Cal Grants available, including: academic only (Cal Grant A), need related (Cal Grant B) and careers (Cal Grant C).
It is also necessary to submit a “verified Cal Grant Grade Point Average (GPA).” Students should first check with the high school to see if they will do it for them. If not, they can go online and download a GPA verification form, fill out the student section, and take it to the high school.
For a list of eligible Cal Grant schools, see www.csac.ca.gov/doc.asp?id=1432 or Google “qualifying Cal Grant schools.”
Cal grants are great, although their numbers have been severely curtailed by the budget crisis. They are great because they do not have to be paid back, while student loans are a debt that follows a student until they are paid in full. Scholarships are like grants. Credit card debt is the worst of all ways to pay for post-high school education (PHSE); and PHSE is a necessity in the 21st century.
The other part of the Cal Grant program is the required submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA should be submitted by every high school senior’s family as soon after Jan. 1 as possible. W-2 information is not necessary for FAFSA submission. Now the time is short, so the FAFSA should be submitted ASAP via the web at www.fafsa.gov/options. Almost all scholarships require FAFSA submission – even academic-only ones.
There is also lots of good information available at the FAFSA 4caster.
Gene Lucas is a retiree from Silicon valley who has a master of science degree in instructional technology from California State University, Chico. After retirement he worked for four and a half years as an Regional Occupational Program Career Technician at two Lassen County High Schools. His main area of interested is in post-high school education, which he believes is essential to success in the 21st century. Lucas hopes to provide a series of articles on post-high school education. If someone has any questions, they should feel free to contact Gene at (831) 636-6716 for free of charge advice.