Q: I know the Cal Grant deadline is less than a month away, and I need some guidance to help my foster child. She is a high school senior, and is hoping to attend our local Cal State University.
Her Grade Point Average (GPA) is 2.8, but I understand that the GPA requirements for the Cal Grant A are 3.0. Should my child still apply?
A: Yes, your foster child should absolutely still apply. The minimum GPA requirement for Cal Grant A is 3.0 for high school students and 2.4 for transfer students, however for Cal Grant B, the minimum GPA requirement is 2.0.
Your foster child should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the GPA verification by the priority deadline of March 2nd. If she is undocumented, she should submit the California Dream Act application instead of the FAFSA (by March 2nd).
For a youth who applies by March 2nd, Cal Grants A and B are entitlements, meaning a youth is guaranteed a Cal Grant if they meet the following requirements:
- meets the income eligibility requirements (foster youth automatically do if they were in foster care after their 13th birthday because they qualify for “independent” status on the FAFSA)
- is a high school senior, is within one year after graduating from high school/GED, or is a California Community College transfer student
- meets the minimum GPA requirements (Cal Grant A: 3.0 GPA for high school students and 2.4 GPA for transfer students; Cal Grant B: 2.0 GPA)
- submits their FAFSA and GPA verification by the March 2nd priority deadline
Once the March 2nd deadline passes, Cal Grants A and B become competitive grants for community college students only, to those who submit the FAFSA and GPA verification by September 2nd, subject to remaining funds. However, Dream Act students MUST submit by March 2nd. If they miss the March 2nd deadline, they will not be eligible for the Cal Grant A and B competitive grant.
If your foster child qualifies for the Cal Grant B, for her first year, it will provide the living allowance of up to $1,656, but not the tuition assistance that the Cal Grant A will. However, when the Cal Grant B is renewed or awarded beyond the first year, the student will receive the living allowance as well as the tuition and fee award. The tuition and fee award is up to $5,472 at a CSU and up to $12,240 at a UC campus.
A note about where Cal Grants A and B can be used:
Cal Grant A cannot be used at California Community Colleges, but can be used at UCs, CSUs, and private colleges. However, if a student is awarded a Cal Grant A who attends a community college, their award is held on reserve status for up to 3 years, then activated if the student meets all renewal requirements at the time of transfer.
Cal Grant B can be used at California Community Colleges, along with UCs, CSUs and private institutions.
Citation: California Student Aid Commission – http://www.csac.ca.gov/; Cal Grant Handbook – http://www.csac.ca.gov/CGM/calgrant_handbook.pdf