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Message from the Office of College and Career Readiness (CCR)

As students plan for college, career, and beyond, it is essential that steps are taken before applying for financial aid. It is the District’s mission to help students and their parents complete an accurate FAFSA or DREAM Act application to receive financial aid on time.

Most FUSD students who plan to attend college or vocational school depend a great deal on financial aid to cover their educational expenses. The application process can be cumbersome for families and they may need guidance and/or advice. We encourage students and parents to take advantage of the resources offered to prevent possible delays or jeopardizing their financial aid.

We encourage families to contact their high school counselor or use CCR’s website for financial aid resources and events on various financial aid topics. Throughout the academic school year, high school counselors, financial aid partners, and CCR host financial literacy workshops to help students and their parents complete an accurate FAFSA, answer questions, and learn about the financial aid available to students such as grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans.

If you need support with financial aid, please contact your high school counselor, or you can also email Gloria Ponce Rodriguez at gloria.ponce-rodriguez@fresnounified.org.

Sources of Financial Aid

Check out this video to learn about grants, loans, and work-study jobs and how they can help fund your education. Visit StudentAid.gov to learn more.

Where to Find Aid Information

Understanding Types of Financial Aid

There are three types of financial aid:

  • Grants: usually based on financial need and don’t have to be repaid
  • Loans: borrowed money that must be repaid with interest
  • Work-Study: a job that lets you earn money while you’re in school

Depending on your financial need, a combination of different types of financial aid can be awarded. Before accepting your award, you will need to determine if a loan is necessary to cover all your college expenses. You may have enough in grants to cover your charges and not need a loan.

Students can use their financial aid funds to cover tuition, fees, room and board, transportation, books, labs, and study abroad. Once you use all of your funds to cover all of your college costs and have funds left over it is called a student’s refund. The strong recommendation is to save it for any future costs you may acquire the following year.

How to Determine Financial Need

To determine how much financial aid a student needs to attend a school, use the formula: Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need.

  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
    Cost varies by school. Each college estimates the COA by adding together the costs of tuition, fees, room and board, transportation, books, supplies, and other miscellaneous living expenses. Most colleges publish the COA on their website.
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
    The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of a family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate a student’s EFC. Your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or taxable Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive; it is a number used by postsecondary institutions to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.
  • Financial Need
    The difference between the COA at a school and your EFC. While COA varies from school to school, your EFC does not change based on the school you attend.

This tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can help you:

  • Understand your financial aid offer
  • Plan to cover the remaining costs
  • Estimate how much you’ll owe and if you can afford that debt
  • Compare offers from different schools
  • Decide what to do next

State Financial Aid

Applying for Financial Aid

Steps to Apply for Aid

StepDetailsResources to Help
Create your FSA ID
  • Create your FSA ID
    • The FSA ID is your legal signature online and the name needs to match the name on your social security card
    • Both student and one parent will need the verified FSA ID to sign and submit the FAFSA online
    • Parents with an ITIN or no social security number DO NOT need to apply for an FSA ID, however a signature page will be required 
    • FSA ID takes 1-3 days to verify with social security administration to confirm your identity
  • Create or activate your Xello account
Apply for FAFSA or Dream Act
  • Create a California Colleges account and link to the FAFSA or Dream Act
  • FAFSA Application
    • Several types of aid including grants, work study, and loans, are available to eligible applicants
    • Start applying for scholarships early - you will need a FAFSA on file to be eligible for most scholarships
  • Dream Act Application
    • Dreamers must complete an affidavit at their school
    • Helps undocumented students who meet AB540 and AB68 pay for college
  • You will receive an email confirming application submission, but this is not a confirmation it has been processed
  • A second email will indicate either "Processed Successfully" or "Action Required"
    • If "Action Required", you will need to go back into the FAFSA/Dream Act application using your FSA ID to make corrections
    • If "Processed Successfully", you will go to the next step
Review your Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • You will receive the SAR within 1-5 days after submitting the FAFSA electronically
  • Your SAR is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted
  • Review your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number
    • Your EFC listed on your SAR will determine the amount of aid you will receive according to a formula established by law
  • Students who have an incomplete or inaccurate FAFSA or Dream Act application will be required to complete numerous forms, which can be challenging and delay your financial aid award
  • The Department of Education has a verification selection process that sometimes makes it necessary for a student's information to be verified even if you completed an accurate FAFSA
    • The school will follow up with you to request forms/documentation to be completed
    • When verification is completed and processed, the financial aid office has the ability to submit the SAR electronically
Create your WebGrants 4 Students account
  • Students are REQUIRED to create a WebGrants 4 Students account
    • 7 days after submitting an accurate FAFSA
    • 24 hours after submitting an accurate Dream Act application
  • Your FAFSA must match your WebGrants account name to be able to create a WebGrants account
Accepting your award letter
  • In May and June, you will receive your award letters from all of the schools you applied to
  • Read your letter in detail!
  • You have to either accept or decline the award and send it back to your prospective school
    • It is important that you carefully read your award letter and follow the instructions on the letter
    • Never assume you've been awarded financial aid without signing your award letter
  • It is critical that you understand that you can jeopardize your spot at a school you've been accepted to waiting on a wait list for another school. If you wait too long, you can potentially lose both.
  • Talk to your counselor if you have questions about your awards


  • How Financial Aid Works – For most students planning to attend college or career school, financial aid is essential. At studentaid.gov they walk you through how financial aid works, resources to pay for college, and loan repayment options.
  • Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan – UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan will ensure that you will not have to pay UC’s systemwide tuition and fees out of your own pocket if you are a California resident whose total family income is less than $80,000 a year and you qualify for financial aid.
  • California Community Colleges  – Information on different types of financial aid and how to apply.
  • Alphabet Soup – Acronyms and definitions of financial aid terms.
  • Student Aid Glossary – Definitions of terms related to college and financial aid.
  • English-Spanish Glossary of Student Financial Aid and Postsecondary Education – Look up the Spanish definitions of commonly used financial aid and postsecondary education terms.
  • California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) – The state’s college access and financial aid agency provides financial aid resources and information about California-specific opportunities.
  • Financial Aid Information for Undocumented Students – Admission policies, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities at colleges and universities throughout the nation and abroad for undocumented students and DREAMers.
  • Immigration Resources on Financial Aid
  • College is For Everyone! A California Financial Aid Guide for Youth with Juvenile Justice Involvement
  • Net Price Calculator – Search for net price calculators by college or university. Calculators allow prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students like them paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account.
  • College Costs – Learn about college costs and get tips on how to lower costs when you go to school.
  • Jobs and Work Study – Having a job while pursuing your education is one way to meet your student contribution and reduce the amount you’ll have to borrow.
  • Federal Work Study Programs at CSU Campuses – ​​​​If you participate in a Federal Work-Study program you’ll work part-time while you’re going to school.​ Search for the Federal Work-Study programs and requirements ​at your CSU campus.

Students who are current or former foster youth are eligible for a wide variety of financial supports when attending college or vocational school. After foster youth complete the FAFSA they will also need to complete the Chafee application to receive an additional grant. We recommend exploring the links below.

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