California Student Loan And Financial Aid Programs
California has several private student loan and financial aid programs that can help you pay for college. If you're going to be attending college in California, you need to be looking to take advantage of these programs.
These programs are designed to help make college more affordable - so that you can get the education you need. These programs can include scholarships, grants, and student loans.
Don't forget that there are Federal student loan programs available as well. You can find out more on how to get a Federal student loan here.
There is also a specific order of operations to pay for college that we recommend students follow. These programs specific to the State of California can help you to avoid borrowing more money than you need to.
California Student Loan Programs
California does not have any specific student loan programs available to its students. Remember, all students are eligible for Federal student loans - you just need to fill out the FAFSA and apply for the loan.
However, there are limits to how much you can borrow (which might be why you're here).
If you're just looking for private student loan options, we recommend:
- Credible - Like the Kayak of student loans, they help you shop around and compare options. Try Credible here.
- College Ave - One of the best private student loan lenders. Get A Quote At College Ave Here.
Check out our complete guide to finding the best student loans here.
California Scholarship Programs
California has several scholarship programs available to California students. You can learn more at CalGrants.
Middle Class Scholarship
The Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) provides undergraduate students, including students pursuing a teaching credential, with family incomes and assets up to $184,000 a scholarship to attend University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses.
Students whose families have income and assets up to $184,000 per year may be eligible for a scholarship of no less than 10% and no more than 40% of the mandatory system-wide tuition and fees at the University of California and the California State University.
MCS scholarships are not set amounts and may vary by student and institution. The award is amount is determined after you are awarded any federal, state, and institutional need-based grants for which you are eligible. The final award amount will be based on the number of students eligible for the MCS statewide and the funding allocated by the State Budget.
Learn more about the Middle Class Scholarship here.
California Grant Programs
California has several grant programs that California students are eligible for. You can learn more at CalGrants.
Grants are one of the best forms of financial aid because, in most circumstances, you don't have to pay the money back.
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 or CADAA 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.
You can learn more about Cal Grants here.
California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth
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.
Learn more about the California Chafee Grant here.
California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNG EAAP)
If you are an active member in the California National Guard, the State Military Reserve, or the Naval Militia you may be eligible for a state-funded program designed to provide an educational incentive to improve your skills, competencies, and abilities.
Learn more about the California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program here.
Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program (LEPD)
The Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program provides need-based educational grants to dependents and spouses of: California peace officers (Highway Patrol, marshals, sheriffs, police officers), Department of Corrections and California Youth Authority employees, and permanent/full-time firefighters employed by public entities who have been killed in the performance of duty or 100% disabled as a result of an accident or injury caused by external violence or physical force incurred in the performance of duty.
Grant awards match the amount of a Cal Grant award and range from $100 to $12,192 for up to four years.
You can learn more about the Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant here.
If you already have student loans and are looking for options as a California resident, check out our California Student Loan Forgiveness Program page. That page has all the different options available to California residents to potentially get some of your student loan debt forgiven.
You might also look at refinancing your student loans and saving money in interest while also potentially lowering your payment. Check out our guide on the Best Places To Refinance Your Student Loans.
If you're looking for ways to save for college in California, check out the California 529 Plan And College Savings Guide.
Finally, check out the other student loan and financial aid programs by state.
Editor: Clint Proctor Reviewed by: Claire Tak