Financial Aid Doesn’t Cover Meal Plan for Foster Youth

Q: I am a social worker for an 18 year-old foster youth who just started his first year of college at a campus of the California State University system. He received a full package of financial aid, including a Pell Grant and a Cal Grant. For some reason, however, his financial aid is not enough to pay for a meal plan in his dorm. Isn’t the meal plan included in his financial aid calculation? How can I help him?

A: Yes, the cost of room and board is calculated in the cost of attendance and figured into his financial aid eligibility. However, financial aid eligibility is based on a standard budget, not the actual expenses that a student may be incurring on campus. For example, the cost of the actual dorm where a is assigned may be higher than the cost included in the standard budget.  If the student is incurring certain allowable expenses, such as higher housing costs, he may be eligible for additional financial aid by applying for a Cost of Attendance Adjustment. To apply for a Cost of Attendance Adjustment, he should contact his college’s financial aid office.

Source: This response was provided by financial aid representatives from California State University system and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

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