California Cal Grant

California Cal Grant is free money for college you don’t have to pay back and it all starts with FAFSA.

Cal Grant, the nation’s largest state-funded college aid program, is a need-based grant that have helped many low-income Californians fund their college education.

These grants of $1,094 to up to $12,570 a year are guaranteed to students who meet income, GPA and residency requirements. 1

Cal Grants are also available for undocumented students who qualify under the California Dream Act — which allows undocumented students who graduated from a California high school to receive state financial aid.


Types of Cal Grants #

There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for as eligibility will be based on your FAFSA and choice of school.

Cal Grant A #

Cal Grant A helps pay for tuition and fees at four-year colleges. Award amounts vary by type of college — up to $12,570 at a University of California campus, up to $5,742 at a California State University campus, and up to $9,220 at independent colleges.

These awards are guaranteed for those students who have a high school GPA of no less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Cal Grant B #

Cal Grant B provides low-income students with a living allowance and assistance with tuition and fees. A 2.0 GPA is required.

Most first-year students receive an allowance of up to $1,648 for educational-related books and living expenses. After the freshman year, Cal Grant B also helps pay tuition and fees in the same amount as a Cal Grant A.

Cal Grant C #

Cal Grant C awards are intended for students who are enrolled in a vocational, occupational or technical program at a Cal Grant eligible school, for up to 2 years.

Up to $1,094 can be used for tuition and fees, and include an additional amount for book and supplies. Up to $3,009 more for tuition fees and books 2 if you’ll be attending a school other than a California Community College. A GPA is not required.

For students who aren’t eligible for the above Cal Grant Entitlement awards may apply for Cal Grant A and B Competitive Awards. Students are selected based on information from their FAFSA and their GPA.

How much is the California Cal Grant? #

The Cal Grant award amounts come in different varieties and sizes depending on the school, the students' income and their GPA and are renewable each year depending on their continued eligibility.

Table shown below are the yearly maximum amounts based on a full-time enrollment status at a Cal Grant eligible institution.

Cal Grant A Cal Grant B Cal Grant C
CA Community College $0 1 $1,648 $1,094
California State University $5,742 $7,390
University of California $12,570 $14,218
Private Non-Profit School $9,220 $10,868 $3,009
Private For-Profit School $8,056 $9,704 $3,009
Private For-Profit School $4,000 $5,648 $3,009
  1. The Cal Grant A does not cover your tuition and fees while attending a community college, however your award eligibility will be held in reserve for up to two years until you transfer to a four-year college.
  2. (—) Not an available award at this type of institution. The Cal Grant C award is only for students enrolled in occupational or technical programs.

How do I qualify for a Cal Grant? #

  1. Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen or meet AB540 eligibility criteria.
  2. Be a California resident for at least 1 year.
  3. Have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent.
  4. Be enrolled at least half-time 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. 3
  5. Be enrolled or plan to enroll in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or certificate.
  6. Must not owe a repayment or be in default status with federal student loans.
  7. Must have substantial financial need as determined by the FAFSA.

How do I apply for a Cal Grant? #

To apply for a Cal Grant, you must complete and submit two forms: the FAFSA and the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form no later than March 2 each year.

AB 540 students may submit a California Dream Act Application instead of a FAFSA. This is a state form instead of a federal form.

Like the FAFSA, application deadline for all Dreamer Cal Grants must be submitted by March 2 in order to receive consideration.


  1. Each year the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) publishes income and asset ceilings for the Cal Grant Program eligibility.
  2. The $2,462 is applied directly to your Tuition and Fees. The $547 is an amount designated for books and supplies.
  3. Cal Grant Eligible School List
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