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College Financial Aid Information


New Resources Explore How to Expand Financial Aid Access and Availability in California

Recent surveys looking at parent perspectives and public opinion on California education make one thing clear – Californians think access to higher education should be a high priority for our state's elected leaders. Yet we know college affordability is a barrier to college access for our state’s students of color and low-income students. New research from Ed Trust–West seeks to address this crucial area of higher education equity by examining efforts to streamline the Cal Grant program and recommending next steps state and district leaders should take to increase students’ access to financial aid.

Paving the Path to College Aid: Expanding Access to the Cal Grant Program explores ways school districts are working to increase financial aid application completion, including their work to implement AB 2160 (Ting), a new law requiring that high schools submit GPAs electronically. The brief outlines tangible practices that county offices of education, districts, and schools are utilizing and provides recommendations for how state and local leaders can further improve access to financial aid.

Our latest Equity Alert, “Improving Cal Grant Equity”, also looks at our state’s financial aid program. Recognizing the increasing interest in potential changes to Cal Grants, including from California’s Student Aid Commission, the alert highlights significant barriers to equity within the existing program, and offers recommendations for how state policymakers can make changes that benefit our most marginalized students.

The future of California hinges on whether we choose to do all we can to support our students and expand access to our higher education systems. For more information on ways to increase Cal Grant equity and expand college affordability, check out our new resources.


Paving the Path to College Aid: Expanding Access to the Cal Grant Program


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Equity Alert:
Improving Cal Grant Equity



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Cal Grant GPA Information

Filing for the March 2, 2019 Cal Grant Award Deadline

To be considered for a 2019-20 Cal Grant award, you must have completed both of these application requirements by March 2, 2019*:

1.Submitted a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a 2019-20 California Dream Act Application (CADAA). (Available October 1, 2018)

2.Ensured that a certified Grade Point Average (GPA) was submitted to the California Student Aid Commission (Commission).

2019-20 paper Cal Grant GPA verification forms and CADAAs are accepted through Friday, March 2, 2019 (Postmark Deadline).

March 2, 2019 Cal Grant GPA Verification Form

California law requires that by, October 1, 2018, all public and charter high schools electronically upload GPAs for current enrolled seniors that do not opt-out.

The Commission will not process any GPAs that may have been submitted in prior years. In order for a student to be considered for a 2019-20 Cal Grant award, a new GPA must be received by the Commission by the stated deadline. Transcripts are not accepted. GPAs are only accepted by high schools that are fully accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges or other regionally accrediting agency, or have a University of California (UC) approved course list.

*Due to March 2, 2019 falling on Saturday, the Commission will accept GPA verification forms postmarked no later than Monday, March 4, 2019.

With over 50 million students heading into America’s public and private schools this fall, our P-12 educational system has never been so large or so diverse, and the need to adequately prepare students to enter and complete college has never been so great. Americans with college degrees are more likely to live healthier lives, be more civically engaged in their communities, pay back their student loans on time, and have well-paying jobs and lower unemployment. It is one of the best investments students can make to help ensure successful futures.

One key to boosting college access is helping students and their families obtain financial aid by making it easier and faster for them to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is available online and in Spanish, and allows many students to automatically import their families’ tax information. Additionally, with new changes being made for this year’s application, students and families can now apply for financial aid earlier—starting on October 1, as the college application process gets underway, rather than in January—and they can use their families’ tax information from two years ago to complete it. For more information on these changes, visit our website at

However, it is essential that students not only enroll in college—they must also graduate with a high-quality degree. A student who leaves with debt but no degree is three times more likely to default on his or her loans than students who graduated from college. It is essential that students and families have information to help them apply to and enroll in a college or university that will help them achieve their educational goals. With higher education costs and student debt levels continuing to rise, the choices that American families make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important.

To further empower students and families, today we released our first annual update of the redesigned College Scorecard, a college search tool that President Obama launched in September 2015 and that nearly 1.5 million users across the nation have accessed since. With over 4,000 institutions available for students and families to search, the College Scorecard provides answers to critical questions about each institution, like how likely students are to complete their degrees, how much debt students take out, and how much the students typically earn after attending. And the interactive website provides users with the ability to search by program, degree type, location, or by name of institution. All of this information is available at  

While we are encouraged that so many users are seeking out this information, there are still many prospective students, especially low-income students, who are not using a tool like the College Scorecard in their search process. We are asking for your help so that these students will use this tool, consider their odds of success at each college they research, and make more informed decisions.

We need your assistance to ensure that all of your district superintendents, guidance counselors, principals, teachers, mentors, parents, and students are aware of this free, comprehensive resource. To help you reach your audience quickly and effectively, we have included a set of tools to assist in your outreach. These resources are also made available on the College Scorecard website:

  • College Scorecard Communications Toolkit: The Toolkit will help you easily communicate the unique benefits of the College Scorecard for students and families and how you can reach different audiences through targeted mediums. Within the Toolkit, we have included information about what’s available in the Scorecard, examples of social media content for Facebook and Twitter feeds, and a sample e-mail that you can send to stakeholders.
  • How-to guide for educators and families: We’ve created a concise one-page guide to using the College Scorecard in the form of a handout for principals, counselors, teachers, students, and families. This “how-to” resource will help your students and educators understand what to look for and how to conduct searches.
  • Video: If you are working to reach your educators and students through social media or e-mail communications, we’ve created a video that shows the many advantages of using a tool like the College Scorecard to help broaden their college search. Check out our video at

We know that good information is only useful when people have access to it, so we appreciate your help in providing this information to ensure it reaches its intended audience—prospective college students and those supporting and advising them.

Thank you for your continued commitment to improving educational outcomes for students across the nation. We appreciate your partnership and wish you a productive school year. If you have any questions or need more information regarding the College Scorecard, please e-mail  


Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary                      

Ann Whalen, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Delegated the Duties and Functions of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education