Tag Archives: FAFSA

Cal Grant GPA requirements & more

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

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Financial aid eligibility for reunified youth

Q: I am working with a young woman who has turned 21 and was previously in foster care. She was reunified with her mother approximately 7 weeks before she turned 18. Does this preclude her from educational financial aid that is tied to her foster youth status? Can she access Chafee and the other types of financial aid?

A: No, reunifying at age 17 does not preclude this young woman from any financial aid that she may be eligible for as a foster youth. Yes, she is categorically eligible for the Chafee Education & Training Voucher, the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant, and the Pell Grant. Provided below is more information about foster care status and eligibility for these types of financial aid.

For the Chafee Grant, a youth must have been a dependent or ward of the court living in foster care on or after their 16th birthday. However, it is important to note in this case because she is 21 years old, that if she turns 22 before July 1st of the award year she would not be eligible for Chafee.

For the BOG Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, eligibility is linked to the student’s “independent” status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Being “independent” means the student does not need to report parental income (but if their own income exceeds the income standards, they will not get aid). In order to qualify for independent status, a youth needs to have been in care at least one day after their 13th birthday.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission (Chafee eligibility: https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/), U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (https://fafsa.ed.gov/)

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Eligibility for BOG Fee Waiver

Q: I know that income eligibility for Pell grants for students who were in foster care after their 13th birthday is based on the student’s income and does not take into consideration the income of parents or guardians. Is the same true for the BOG Fee Waiver at community colleges or do schools consider the income of a young person’s parents?

A: The BOG fee waiver application can be found HERE.  The application uses the same standards as the FAFSA to determine if a student is independent and therefore not required to provide parental income. As with the FAFSA, if a student was in foster care or was a dependent or ward of the court any time after the age of 13, they do not need to provide parental information. Students are strongly encouraged however to apply not only for the BOG fee waiver, but also to submit a FAFSA which is necessary to obtain a Pell Grant or CalGrant. For maximum financial aid, the FAFSA must be submitted no later than March 2.

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Criminal Convictions And Financial Aid

Q: If I have been convicted of a crime, does this impact whether I am eligible for financial aid?

A: For the most part, a student with a criminal conviction, including one who is on probation or parole, is eligible for federal and state financial aid, however there are some exceptions. If you are currently incarcerated, you are ineligible for a federal Pell grant. Your eligibility may also be suspended if you were convicted of a drug-related offense and the offense occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study). Note that the suspension can be lifted however by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.

Finally, if you have been convicted of a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense, and you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for that offense, you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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Financial aid for youth who were adopted

Q: I am working with a youth who has been adopted, and she is applying for financial aid for college. What age would this youth have to have been adopted after, to qualify for financial aid for foster youth?

A: For the Chafee Grant, which is the only form of financial aid dedicated solely for foster youth, a youth must have been in care on their 16th birthday. So if they were adopted after turning age 16, they would be eligible for the Chafee Grant.

For other forms of financial aid, such as the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, the terms are different. Eligibility for these forms of aid is linked to financial need. Foster youth (and youth in guardianships) are entitled to independent status on the FAFSA, which means they do not need to report parental income, but if their own income exceeds the income standards, they will not get aid.

In order to qualify for independent status, a youth needs to have been in care on their 13th birthday. So, if they were adopted prior to age 13, they will have to report their adoptive parents’ income, which may or may not qualify them for these forms of aid, depending on the amount of the adoptive parents’ income.

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Applying for Financial Aid

Q: I am working with a foster youth who is about to start community college next month and I just discovered that he didn’t apply for any financial aid. Is it too late to apply? Someone told me the deadline was all the way back on March 2nd.

A: It is not too late. Federal Pell grants can be applied for at any time by submitting a FAFSA and community college students can apply for the CalGrant through September 2, although availability is limited after the March 2nd deadline. If the youth hasn’t applied for a BOG fee waiver, this can also be applied for year round. If the youth meets the eligibility for a Chafee grant, there is no specific deadline, but grants are limited and so early application is encouraged.

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