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Financial Aid


Grants are financial aid that you don’t need to pay back. Grants usually come from your state, the federal government, and colleges. Many of these grants are based on need, which means that they are based on your (and your family’s) financial circumstances.

To apply for federal and state grants (Cal Grants), complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by March 2. 

To apply for federal and state grants as an undocumented student, complete the California Dream Act application by March 2.

California Dream Act Information and Resources

Cal Grants

A Cal Grant is money for college from the state of California that you don’t have to pay back. To qualify, you must meet the eligibility and financial requirements as well as any minimum GPA requirements. Cal Grants can be used at any University of California, California State University or California Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California.

There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B, and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA responses, your verified Cal Grant GPA*, the type of California colleges you list on your FAFSA and whether you’re a recent high school graduate. 

*ESUHSD uploads all verified Cal Grant GPA's. No action is needed by individual students.

Federal Pell Grants

A Federal Pell Grant is money for college from the federal government that you don't have to pay back. It is usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. Amounts can change yearly. For the 2020-21 award year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), the maximum award is $6,345.  You can receive the Federal Pell grant for no more than 12 semesters or the equivalent (roughly 6 years). 

Work Study

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need , allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student's course of study. Money earned in the Federal Work-Study program is not used to determine financial need when applying for financial aid, therefore, making it a better option than a part-time job elsewhere. 


The federal and state governments, colleges and private organizations all provide college loans to students and parents. 

Need-Based Loans

  • Federal Perkins Loans may be awarded by colleges to students with the highest need.

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are interest-free while you're in college and have a borrowing limit that increases for each year of school you complete.

Non-Need-Based Loans

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans charge interest but allow you to add the interest fees to the amount you borrow until after graduation. However, doing this means you’ll actually end up owing more.

  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans allow parents (or graduate students) to borrow the total cost of college, minus any financial aid received.

Private Loans

In general, private loans are not subsidized or need-based. They also often require a cosigner — someone who promises to repay the money if the student fails to do so. The interest rates of private loans vary.


Find many different types of financial aid available year round at California Community Colleges that directly connect you with events in your area where you can get free professional assistance completing financial aid forms.  I Can Afford College