Many students qualify for financial aid. There are different types of aid that can be received, these include scholarships, grants and loans. Scholarships are typically awarded to students based on academic or other achievements and do not have to be paid back. Grants are awarded based on need by the federal government and do not have to be paid back. Other types of financial aid include loans, either federal loans or private loans that do need to be paid back and work study programs which provide part-time employment while enrolled to help pay for school.
The first step for obtaining financial aid is to complete a FAFSA form to determine eligibility and need.
Here are some helpful resources for financial aid.
The United States Department of Education provides this Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, as a service to students. Students complete this profile of their financial resources, and the information is used by schools to evaluate the means of students and offer them aid.
California Student Aid Commission
In addition to administering Cal Grants, the California Student Aid Commission works to make postsecondary education accessible to California students. To accomplish its mission, CSAC publishes several brochures and FAQs and organizes links to information on California colleges and universities on its website.
California Dream Act
The California Dream Act allows certain students who meet the requirements below to apply for and receive state financial aid at California public and private colleges and private scholarships administered by California public colleges.
I Can Afford College
The 'I Can Afford College' website provides a wealth of financial aid resources for students attending community college. The site contains information on the Federal Pell Grant, Board of Governor's Fee Waiver and other types of aid.
Board of Governor's Fee Wavier
For California residents planning on attending a California Community College, the Board of Governor's Waiver waives the enrollment fees. Apply for the waiver through your community college.
This video below from the Federal Student Aid Office explains more about the different types of financial aid.
There's no single, comprehensive source that can list for you all of the scholarships you're eligible for. There are many resources out there for students and different ways to search for scholarships. Scholarships are usually merit-based awards that do not have to be paid back.
How to search for scholarships:
> Database Searches
We recommend that you try a few different databases, since none of them are comprehensive.
Please see a list of databases listed on the UCLA Scholarship Resource Center Website.
You'll give the database information about yourself (background, career goals, academic interests, hobbies, etc), and it will find scholarship matches based on your profile. Since many of the sites will send you e-mail updates, it's a good idea to set up a separate e-mail account just to handle your scholarship information.
> Ask Academic Departments
Many departments will offer scholarships for their undergraduates. Always check for listings on department bulletin boards, and ask in the departmental office. Also, departmental counselors might receive information from scholarship agencies.
> Search Online
In addition to the free searchable databases of scholarship information, you can find a wealth of information online. The key is focusing your search, so that you won't be frustrated by the terrifying amount of information, and so that you can avoid disreputable sites and scams.
> Think Broadly
Take note of your interests, hobbies, ethnic/religious background, affiliations, etc. There are scholarships based on many, many characteristics that have nothing to do with grades or financial need.
How to apply for your scholarship:
Many scholarship programs will post their application materials on their websites-some may use an online application form. If the application is not available online, write to the scholarship agency to request a copy of the application. Tip: Make sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
> Application Form
Most scholarship applications will include an official form where you will list your personal information. If the form can't be filled out on your computer, please write as legibly as possible.
> Personal Statement
Many applications require a personal statement or statement of purpose; some require a longer essay. Pay close attention to what the application is asking you to write about (career/academic goals? Experiences?, etc.). Make sure to highlight the most pertinent aspects of yourself or your project. Try to make your essay unique and memorable-this is your chance to show the scholarship committee something about yourself. Always remember to proofread for typos and grammatical errors. Show your work to peers, teachers and counselors for feedback.
> Stay Organized
It is important to keep yourself organized, especially if you're applying for more than one scholarship. Keep a record of what you've done for each application. If you use online database searches such as fastweb.com or brokescholar.com, we recommend setting up a separate e-mail account just to handle your scholarship e-mails.
> Completing and Submitting Your Application
Proofread your entire application to make sure you haven't made any careless errors or typos. Be sure to meet all deadlines-check to be sure whether the deadline printed on the application is for postmark or receipt of the application. Mail your application at least three days in advance of the postmark date. If the application must be received by a particular date, allow at least a week.