How Should I Accept My College Financial Aid? (2024)

You have dreams — dreams that include going to college. You may also have worries about the cost. Never fear, help is here! Abouthalf of UC Davis students manage to graduate without student loan debt. So take heart and take stock of the resources available to you.

Loans are financial aid awards thatmust be repaid, with interest, under varying terms and conditions. Grants, scholarships, and programs (which may come from the university, state, federal government, or outside organizations) may be need-based, merit-based or both, and typically do not need to be repaid. By the way, need-based awards are not just for low-income families. The Middle-Class Scholarship, for example, is for students with family assets/income up to $184,000. Work-Study allows a student (whose eligibility is need-based) to earn financial aid through employment.

Most students use one or more of these sources to fund their college education.

How Should I Accept My College Financial Aid? (1)


Even if you haven’t applied for admission yet, you can apply for financial aid and find out what options will be available upon getting accepted. One of the first, best, and most important ways you can begin pursuing all of the above is to complete one relatively simple application.

Fill Out the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application

You can apply as soon as October 1 of the year before you attend. Many students apply for the FAFSA. It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Alternatively, the CDAA (California Dream Act Application) allows AB 250 undocumented/Dreamer students to apply for financial benefits. Both the FAFSA and CDAA are easiest to complete online and are available in Spanish. States and schools use them to calculate your financial aid award. UC Davis uses it to determine eligibility for awards such as the Aggie Grant Plan, which covers up to 30% of systemwide tuition and fees for students with family incomes between $80,000 and $120,000 and parent assets below $200,000. The federal government uses FAFSA to determine eligibility for awards including the Pell Grant. It can definitely all add up.

FAFSA Filing Tips

The application takes about 30 minutes, but you’ll need a few things to get started, such as

  • Your social security number
  • W2 forms
  • Family income tax records

You may have to ask your family for some of this. However, often you can transfer that information automatically from the IRS, so try that first before digging through all your paper files. You’ll need to set up an FSA ID & Password. (The FSA stands for Federal Student Aid.) In most cases, parents will also fill out parts of the application using their own FSA ID. There’s plenty of help along the way. There’s a clickable question mark next to each FAFSA question for tips. There's a Help icon at the bottom of the page for quick answers and tips. You can even chat with a live agent.

What happens to my financial information?

The FAFSA uses a simple formula to determine your “Expected Family Contribution.” That’s not necessarily the amount you’ll ultimately pay. During the application, you will enter the schools you’re considering. Each has a different “Cost of Attendance.” Your “Expected Family Contribution” is subtracted from each school’s Cost of Attendance to estimate your “Financial Need” there.

Within a week after submitting your FAFSA, you should get a response called a Student Aid Report. (Many just call them “SARs.”) Make sure your report is accurate. You may be asked to verify some things.

Apply to attend UC Davis

Did you know when you submit the UC application for undergraduate admission, you’re also applying for every scholarship offered through the UC system? Most initial scholarships awarded to new students are announced beforeMay 1. Outside Scholarship willhelpstudents access the many, many scholarships that aren’t bundled with the application.

Confirm your Cal Grant submission (Californians only)

California community colleges and most California high schools automatically submit students' GPAs for Cal Grants, which is another source of funds for low-income families. After you have filed a FAFSA or CADAA, you can check the status of your Cal Grant application atWebGrants for Students.

How Should I Accept My College Financial Aid? (2)

Accept your awards

As soon as you receive your admission offer,log into MyAwardsto review your aid package. Once you submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) you can begin accepting your awards. Freshman Cal Grant awards are first posted as estimates and updated in August once confirmed. In late August, your billing statements will become available online.

Use your support network

Managing finances can be a challenge for any student. That's where the Aggie Blue to Gold Financial Wellness Program comes in handy. It provides budgeting and money management information resources for UC Davis students. Whether you’re attending college for the first time or finishing your thesis while supporting a family, this wellness program provides great information, services, and workshops for all UC Davis students and families. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the list of important deadlines, especially if you’re taking advantage of special resources such as the Deferred Payment Plan.

How Should I Accept My College Financial Aid? (3)

Maintain eligibility

Students who receive financial aid are expected to attend classes and maintain a minimum grade point average. You’ll need to submit a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) report for every quarter that you receive financial aid.

Reapply next year

To continue receiving aid, you'll need to apply for financial aid every year you're enrolled. Even if you didn't receive financial aid one year, you may be eligible to receive financial aid the following year.

How Should I Accept My College Financial Aid? (2024)


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