Hi, Future High School Grad!


Welcome to I Can Afford College! As the name of this website implies, yes, you can afford college. Financial aid can cover tuition, textbooks, transportation and sometimes even help with the rent. Scroll down to our Steps for Success to learn about the financial aid opportunities available for you at a California community college.

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Eligibility

Finding out if you’re eligible for financial aid is easy: it depends on your family’s income and household size. Curious to see what type of aid you may qualify for?

Financial Aid 101

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First Things First. Fill Out The Right Application.

If you are a US Citizen or eligible noncitizen, the FAFSA is the right form for you. The information you provide on your FAFSA determines what financial aid you receive.

If you are an undocumented or Dream Act student, the California Dream Act Application is the right form for you. Click here for information and a special financial aid application just for you.

Factors That May Affect Your Financial Aid Eligibility

  • Your family’s size
  • Number of family members currently in college
  • Your family’s income and assets
  • Your college costs, including tuition, textbooks, supplies, transportation and other education-related expenses
  • Individual circumstances vary – check with your local financial aid office or visit our FAQs page
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Wondering if you need to select a college before applying for financial aid? If you know where you’re going to attend that’s great and there’s a place to list your college of choice on the FAFSA. If you don’t know where you’re going to attend, that’s okay too. Just list the colleges you’re considering and, once you decide, you can log into the form and update that information.

Still have questions about Eligibility?

Contact a college financial aid office near you to get information about your eligibility for financial aid. Or, check for workshops in your area using the financial aid workshop locator tool to get one-on-one help with applying for financial aid.

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Prep Yourself & Get Started

When it comes to applying for financial aid, being prepared is half the battle. Find the information and resources you should have on-hand during the application process.

Now that you have the know-how to streamline your application process, we just have one more question: Do you have your financial documents (tax/income/bank statements) ready?

Gather this information and keep it handy

Depending on your situation, you may need to fill out some or all of the following information. Gather as much of this information as you can before you dive into the application process: 

  • Your Social Security number (be sure to enter it correctly)
  • Your Parents’ Social Security numbers (if you’re a dependent student)
  • Your driver license number (if you have one) 
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and spouse, if married)
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income and veterans’ non-education benefits for yourself and for parents, if you have a dependent student
  • Information on cash (savings and checking account balances), investments (stocks, bonds and real estate – not including the residence you live in) and business and farm assets. And if you’re a parent of a dependent student, make sure to keep these records. 

If your child is a dependent student:

  • IRS Form 1040 
  • Foreign tax return 
  • Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau 
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Use your personal email address, (not a school or work-related address that may change). Always respond quickly to emails and other requests from the college financial aid office. Trust us, you’ll be happy you did!

Now that you're prepared, find the right financial aid application.

Fill out your FAFSA here.

If you are a Dream Act student, fill out your California Dream Act Application here

One and done

Don’t worry, only one FAFSA or California Dream Act Application form needs to be completed each year and is the one form that will determine your eligibility for all types of financial aid. Once you complete either a FAFSA or California Dream Act Application it will automatically be sent to every college you list on your application. If you’re not sure which college you will attend yet, just list all of the ones you are considering. You can always update that information later by logging back into your application. Pretty cool, right? Use the table below to see which tax year to use.

Academic Year FAFSA Available Tax Filing Year to be Used
2019/2020 October 1, 2018 2017
2020/2021 October 1, 2019 2018
2021/2022 October 1, 2020 2019

We'll be in touch

After filing your application, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in 3-5 days, recapping the information you provided. A copy of your SAR will automatically be sent to the California Student Aid Commission and each college you listed on your application. Once those colleges get your SAR, they'll let you know how much aid you qualify for.

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What if I make a mistake on my application?

No worries! Once the financial aid office reviews your application, they’ll let you know if any corrections or additional information is needed. If this occurs and the financial aid office contacts you, remember to respond as quickly as possible! This is why it’s really important to use a personal email, (not associated with your school or work), that you’re checking often.

Financial Aid Help is Easy to Find

Got Questions? We Have Answers!

Check out the FAQs for a great list of commonly asked questions and answers. If you have other questions or need assistance with financial aid forms, your local community college Financial Aid office can help! Locate the nearest Financial Aid office here.

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Apply with Ease

Once you’ve gathered all the recommended info from above, you’re ready to apply! A list of easy online applications you may qualify for is located here.

So, Now What?

After you’ve filled out your financial aid applications and applied for admission to a California community college, you may be wondering what's next. Well, wonder no more!

The Post-FAFSA Process:

  • If you applied online: You will receive a link to your Student Aid Report by email in 2-3 days
  • If you applied using the California Dream Act Application: You must create a WebGrants account in order to check the status of your Cal Grant eligibility.
  • Upon receiving your Student Aid Report, you can make corrections or update your FAFSA information, if needed
  • Be sure to respond to any requests for information from your colleges
  • Your financial aid award letter will vary depending on your college of choice, when you filed the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application and submitted any additional documents to the financial aid office
  • Compare your financial aid offers, if you applied to more than one college
  • Accept your aid online or by signing and returning your award letter
  • Receive your aid. Be sure to talk to your college financial aid office about your options and whether direct deposit, a debit card or a check is right for you. If you change your mind about how you would like to receive your award money, talk to your financial aid office to update this information.
  • If you have accepted a federal student loan, attend an entrance loan counseling session (does not apply to California Dream Act applicants). Contact a college financial aid office near you for information on financial literacy and loan counseling. 

Communication is Key

Make sure you contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend for additional information and to ask other questions.

Got Forms?

Applying for aid can require additional forms or applications. For example, Cal Grants require a verified Cal Grant GPA. In some cases, tax returns, proof of income, checking/savings account balances or benefit forms may be needed to complete your financial aid filing. To find out exactly what additional forms you may need to complete use the financial aid office locator tool to get one-on-one help to answer your questions. 

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Gather everything you can before you dive into the application process AND always respond quickly to requests from the college financial aid office. Trust us, you’ll be happy you did.

Apply Yourself

Just because you’ve applied for financial aid doesn’t mean you’ve applied to a California community college. Now that you've completed the FAFSA and any of the supplemental applications above, it's time to apply to a California community college! To apply, click here.

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Get your Questions Answered

To find local financial aid advisors or well-informed workshops in your area, enter your zip code on this convenient office locator tool. You can also check out our FAQs for answers to the most commonly asked financial aid questions.

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Keep your contact information updated regularly. This is how you get updates about financial aid! If your contact information changes contact your college financial aid office or admissions and records office to provide them your updated phone number, email and/or home address.

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Now what?

Now it’s time to enroll! The GO button at the end of this paragraph will send you to an in-depth description of what happens after you submit your FAFSA or CADAA and how to enroll in the California community college of your choice. Ready… Set… GO!