Financial Aid

Sweetwater Union High School District

Why Apply for Financial Aid?

Whether you feel your family qualifies for Financial Aid or not, there are several reasons why your student should apply.....

  • to qualify for government student loans
  • to qualify for CAL Grants
  • to qualify for Promise programs at the community colleges (ie., Southwestern College Promise)
  • to ensure Financial Aid eligibility just in case finances change
Big picture

What are Grants?

Grants are monies for students who attend college or career school that students generally do not have to pay back.

Examples of grants: CAL Grants, Pell Grant, Chaffee Grant

CAL GRANTS are specifically for California students attending college/universities in California.

Cal Grant A

Will help pay for tuition and fees at four-year colleges award amounts vary by type of college. It has a GPA requirement. If you’re applying using your high school GPA, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA; if applying using your college GPA, you must have at least a 2.4 GPA

It requires that your course of study leads directly to an associate or bachelor’s degree, or qualifies you for transfer from a community college to a bachelor’s degree program

Cal Grant B

Provides a living allowance of up to $1,672, in addition to tuition and fee assistance after the first year, at a two- or four-year college

It pays most first-year students a living allowance only, which may be used to pay living expenses, books, supplies and transportation, as well as tuition and fees

When renewed or awarded beyond your first year, you’ll receive the living allowance as well as a tuition and fee award (up to $12,570 at a UC campus, up to $5,742 at a CSU campus and up to $9,084 at independent colleges for 2018-2019)

It requires at least a 2.0 GPA

Cal Grant C

Assists with the costs of a technical or career education

It provides up to $1,094 for books, tools and equipment—and up to $2,462 more for tuition and fees if you’ll be attending a school other than a California Community College (community colleges don’t charge tuition and your fees will be waived as a Cal Grant recipient)

It is available for up to two years

If you qualify, you’ll receive an email or letter notification to complete the online Cal Grant C Supplement in Web Grants for Students by the deadline. Even though a GPA is not required to apply for a Cal Grant C, you’re still encouraged to submit yours because it can only help your chances of receiving an award.

CAL Grant GPA's will be uploaded to CSAC for all seniors in the Sweetwater Union HS District during the first semester of senior year.

  • CAL Grant GPA -- A high school GPA is calculated on a 4.00 scale computed to two decimal places, rounded to the nearest hundredth. The high school GPA must include all coursework for the sophomore year, the summer following the sophomore year, the junior year, and the summer following the junior year.

PELL Grants

The Pell Grant is the largest federal grant program offered to undergraduates and is designed to assist students from low-income households. A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances. To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA®) form.


If you are or were in foster care for at least one day, between the ages of 16 and 18 as a dependent or ward of the court and have financial need, you may qualify for up to $5,000 a year for career and technical training or college. You don’t have to pay this money back. You may also be able to use your grant to help pay for child care, transportation and rent while you’re in school. You can use your Chafee Grant at any eligible California college or university or career or technical school, as well as schools in other states.

What are Scholarships?

A scholarship is financial support awarded to a student, based on academic achievement or other criteria that may include financial need, for the purpose of schooling. There are various types of scholarships – the two most common being merit-based and need-based. The donor or department funding the scholarship sets the criteria for recipient selection, and the grantor specifically defines how the money is to be applied. The funds are used to defray the costs of tuition, books, room, board and other expenses directly tied to a student’s educational cost through the university.

Each high school in the Sweetwater District has a counselor assigned to work with scholarships and each of your school's website has a list of scholarships available.


Middle Class Scholarship is for undergraduates AND students pursuing a teaching credential with family income and assets up to $201,000.

Students must be planning to attend a UC or CSU; be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or meet the requirements for non-resident tuition exemption*; meet certain income/asset and other financial aid standards; maintain satisfactory academic progress; not be in default on a student loan; and must not be incarcerated.

The Middle Scholarship award amounts will vary by student and by school. Award amounts will be based on the cost of attendance for the school of the student’s choice and the following program requirements: other available gift aid that the student is eligible for (i.e. federal, state, institutional or scholarship aid), a self-help student contribution of $7,898 (applied to all students), and a parent contribution for dependent students with a household income of over $100,000.

By filling out the FAFSA, you can see if you qualify for this.

What is 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.

Here’s a quick overview of Federal Work-Study:

  • It provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school.

  • It’s available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need.

  • It’s available to full-time or part-time students.

  • It’s administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program. Check with your school's financial aid office to find out if your school participates.

What are Federal Loans?

Loans are monies you have to pay back.

Federal student loans are

Federal parent loans are

Federal student loans are made by the government, with terms and conditions that are set by law, and include many benefits (such as fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans) not typically offered with private loans.

Private loans are made by private organizations such banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations, and have terms and conditions that are set by the lender. Private student loans are generally more expensive than federal student loans.

Big picture

Step 1 - FSA ID --- Federal Student Aid Identification

The first step in the financial aid process is to get an FSA ID. This is gives you access to Federal Student Aid's online systems and can serve as your legal signature.

(Please note: if you are going to apply with a Dream Act Application (see definition below), you do not need to apply for an FSA ID)

  • You will need to create an FSA ID
  • Your parent/guardian need to create their own FSA ID. Parent/guardian needs to have their own electronic signature
  • Important before you start.....Have paper and pencil close by -- there are a series of security questions and you will need to write it down for future reference.
  • Be sure to keep your username and password safe. You will be using this for FAFSA username and password for the next four years of college as you renew your FAFSA every year and your parent/guardian will be doing the same for you and your siblings.
  • Your parent will need their FSA ID if you have siblings who will complete the FAFSA.
Big picture

Step 2 -- You are ready to start filling out your FAFSA or Dream ACT Application

FAFSA and Dream Act Application opens October 1st of every school year. Deadline to be eligible for CAL Grants is March 2.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid application must be submitted to receive Federal and State aid. FAFSA are for students who are US Citizen, National or Permanent Resident

Dream Act Application --

Are for students who are not U.S. Citizens, National or Permanent residents or do not fulfill ALL of the FAFSA requirements. The DREAM application is unique to California promoting access to all students regardless of immigration statues and/or documentation.


  • Cal Grant
  • Chafee Grant
  • Middle Class Scholarship
  • UC Grants
  • State University Grants
  • California Community College (CCC) BOG Fee Waiver
  • Some University scholarships
  • Some private scholarships administered by campuses
Big picture
Big picture

Step 3 -- Apply for colleges and universities

Check with your school counselors, attend the virtual college fairs, visit colleges and universities, google college websites.

CA Community College --

CA State Universities (CSU) --

University of CA (UC) --

Private colleges and universities --

Historically Black Colleges --

Hispanic Serving Institutions --

Colleges and universities have different application deadlines -- be familiar with the dates of institutions that your are applying to.

Step 4 -- Creating your WEBGrants 4 Students account

A week after submitting your FAFSA or CADAA go to to create your WebGrants 4 Students account.
Big picture

Financial Aid Award Letter

After you submit your application for financial aid, you will receive a financial aid award letter from the college(s) to which you applied, typically in early to mid-April or earlier if you apply early. This letter spells out the details of your financial aid package. A financial aid package is a collection of different types of financial aid from multiple sources. It is intended to help you fill the gap between your ability to pay, your expected family contribution or EFC, and college costs, or the cost of attendance or COA. After you receive the award letter, you may be asked to return a signed copy of the letter in which you accept or reject each source of financial aid. The college will not increase other aid to compensate if you reject part of the financial aid package, such as loans.

Definition of EFC -- It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

Definition of COA -- Cost of Attendance

Calculating Your Financial Need: Cost of Attendance (COA) − Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

See sample below of a Financial Aid award letter -- the look varies from institution to institution

Big picture

Additional information

Important Follow-up Steps.....

  • With the financial aid office of the schools you have applied to and/or will be attending.
  • Check your email or portal in case they are asking for additional documentation as it pertains to your financial aid
  • Contact your college/university's financial aid office if your financial situation has changed from the income taxes you used on your FAFSA/Dream Act application.
  • Submit any additional paperwork being requested by the colleges/universities.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Workshops

  • There were be a number of workshops throughout the first semester of senior year to help you fill out your financial aid forms and scholarship applications. Check with your school counselor for dates and times.