Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step toward getting financial aid for college.
Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college (Federal Student Aid). In addition, your FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for California State and CSULB aid, and some scholarship providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their awards.
The FAFSA Application becomes available every October 1st – and the priority deadline for applying is March 2nd (for the 2017 – 2018 academic year, the application became available October 1st, 2016 and the deadline to apply is March 2nd, 2017).
If you have already missed the Priority Filing Deadline of March 2nd, you will still be considered for the Federal Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans.
Eligibility for FAFSA and Federal Student Aid
In order to be eligible for funding through the FAFSA Application, you must meet the eligibility criteria for Federal Student Aid:
- You must be a U.S. Citizen OR
- You must be an eligible non-citizen (i.e., Permanent Resident)
PLEASE NOTE: Students who received a Social Security Number through the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival (DACA), and who qualify for AB540, should complete the California Dream Act Application in order to be considered for state financial aid, as they are NOT Eligible for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA asks for important personal identification information as well as financial information. You may be asked to provide identification and financial information for your parents as well. Details about the type of information, and documents needed to complete the application are available from Federal Student Aid.
You or your parents may be able to have your tax & income information imported directly from the IRS into your FAFSA using the FAFSA’s IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
If you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we highly recommend doing so for the following reasons:
- It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data.
- It’s the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
- If your FAFSA is selected for verification, it will be unnecessary for you to provide federal IRS Tax Transcripts
- You will save time and avoid waiting for documents and processing
Learn more about providing financial information from Federal Student Aid.
Get an FSA ID
For FAFSA Applicants, you’ll need an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. If you are a dependent student you should also have your parent request an FSA ID.
You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the FAFSA, but getting an FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA could prevent processing delays, and it only takes a few minutes to apply. You can find out more information and apply for an FSA ID.
Determining Your Dependency Status
All applicants for financial aid are considered either “independent” or “dependent.” Dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the application. By answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into. Visit Federal Student Aid’s page on Dependency Status for information on the difference between a dependent and an independent student, and to determine your dependency status for financial aid purposes.
Reporting Parent Information
If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA. Visit Federal Student Aid’s page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information.
Special Circumstances: Unable to Provide Parent Information
In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your application without parent information despite being considered a dependent student:
- Your parents are incarcerated.
- You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
- You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
- You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
The online application will ask you whether you are able to provide information about your parents. If you are not, you will have the option to indicate that you have special circumstances that make you unable to get your parents’ information. The site then allows you to submit your application without entering data about your parents.
Once you’ve submitted your FAFSA, you will need to reach out to our office to discuss your options – and whether or not a Dependency Override Appeal is an option. Be sure to gather as much information and supporting documentation about your situation as you can (legal documents; letters from a school counselor, a social worker, or clergy member; any other relevant information that helps document your special circumstance).
After the FAFSA: Next Steps
Completing the FAFSA is not the last step; your FAFSA has to be processed, and then you get an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which CSULB uses to figure out how much aid you can get. Find out more about what happens after you fill out the FAFSA, how to review your Student Aid Report and how to correct any errors.
Cal Grant GPA Verification
Eligibility for a Cal Grant is based on the information in your FAFSA as well as your academic history. Cal Grants may be renewed for up to four years of full-time enrollment.
In order to be considered for a Cal Grant, you must have your GPA verified by the appropriate college or high school office. The following table shows which school should complete your GPA verification based on your current status. After reading these instructions, please contact our office if you have any questions.
CSULB Current Student Status
GPA Verified by:
Newly Admitted First-Time Freshman
Your High School
Newly Admitted Transfer Student with NO units earned at CSULB as of March 1st
Your Former College
Be sure you contact the appropriate school to have your GPA Verification sent to CSAC by the March 2nd deadline. More information is available on the CSAC Cal Grant page.
Are you wondering if your Cal Grant GPA has been received by CSAC? After you have filed a FAFSA, you can go on-line and check the status of your Cal Grant application by logging on to WebGrants for Students and creating an account. This secure site provides you with resources, information and tools to assist you with the college financial aid process. It will also let you view the status of your Cal Grant or Chafee Grant application, update your address, submit corrections, view your payment history, update your college of attendance, or satisfy outstanding requirements.
Missed the Priority Filing Deadline?
If you missed the Priority Filing Deadline (March 2nd), you should still complete the FAFSA Application. Although you have missed the opportunity to be considered for CSULB and California State Grant funds for the year, there are other aid programs available to you.
In addition to the aid programs listed below, some scholarships, or private loans may require you to complete the FAFSA application to be considered.
Financial Aid Programs at CSULB that are not impacted by the Priority Filing Deadline:
- Federal Pell Grant
- Federal Direct Loans
You will have the opportunity to be considered for CSULB and California State Grants next year – when you complete the FAFSA again (you must complete a new FAFSA for each academic year). The FAFSA becomes available every October 1st.
Be sure to complete the FAFSA prior to the Priority Filing Deadline, so that you can be considered for the full scope of funding available.