Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Must I be accepted for admission before I apply for financial aid?
A. No. In fact, if you wait until you’re admitted to apply, you may miss the March 2 priority filing date to qualify for Cal Grants and other aid programs. Apply for financial aid any time after January 1 and no later than March 2 for the following academic year (fall and spring). We will begin processing your FAFSA as soon as we receive it; however, you must be formally admitted before we will determine your award offer.
Q. Should I wait until my taxes are filed before I do my FAFSA?
A. Not if you’ll miss the March 2 priority filing date! We encourage you to complete your taxes as early as possible so that your FAFSA is accurate. However, if you or your parents cannot complete the taxes before March 2, use your best estimate of income and taxes. Just indicate on your FAFSA that you are using estimated figures. Once you file your taxes, you can make corrections to your FAFSA application if necessary.
Q. When will I hear about my financial aid?
A. Most of our communications regarding your financial aid application and awards are sent electronically. Check your email and TITAN Online regularly to ensure you meet any critical deadlines.
If you file your FAFSA by the March 2 priority date, you should receive an email acknowledgment from our office by early April. Some students are required to submit copies of tax returns or other information to our office before we can determined their awards. In general, we begin awarding priority filers in mid-March. Files are reviewed and awarded according to FAFSA filing date and file complete date.
Q. Do I have to be full-time to receive financial aid?
A. No. You will qualify for most types of financial aid if you are enrolled at least half-time, defined at Cal State Fullerton as 6 semester units. You may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant payment with fewer than 6 semester units. For further details, including special graduate enrollment conditions, see our Enrollment Q & A.
Q. Must I be enrolled at the University prior to receiving financial assistance?
A. Yes. Payment will not be prepared until you are enrolled.
The first disbursement for each semester occurs approximately one week prior to the first day of classes and funds are usually delivered to you by the Thursday before classes begin. If you are not enrolled in the minimum number of units at the time of the payment cycle, no disbursement will be prepared for you. However, we have at least two payment cycles each week throughout the semester. As soon as you are enrolled and eligible for payment, your disbursement will be prepared.
Q. When I send my Student Housing License Agreement to Housing, must I make a payment if I am receiving financial aid?
A. Yes. All students who plan to live in the residence facility, regardless of financial aid eligibility, must send the initial payment by the deadline date. Subsequent payments are your responsibility as well. You may request a meeting with a housing representative to arrange a payment plan for the subsequent payments.
Q. Do I have to apply for financial aid each year?
A. Yes. Your financial situation must be reassessed each year. However, after the first year you apply for financial aid, you may be eligible to file a “renewal FAFSA” which is quicker and easier to complete. The federal FAFSA processor will notify you about renewing your FAFSA.
Q. I am only interested in scholarships. Do I have to fill out the FAFSA?
A. No. However, to be considered for scholarships where financial need is a criterion, you must complete the FAFSA.
Q. What is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and when do I provide it?
A. The "expected family contribution" is based on your family’s resources, the number of family members and the number in college. The EFC is the amount you and your family are expected to pay toward your educational costs. The federal need analysis formula determines the EFC and assumes the following: Parents have the primary responsibility to pay for their children’s education. Students also have a responsibility to help pay for their own educations.
The EFC is not an amount that is "due" at one specific time. It can be contributed to your educational costs in a variety of ways such as assisting in the payment of fees each semester, buying books and supplies or providing housing, transportation costs or other miscellaneous educational costs. The EFC is the amount of your total costs that will not be covered by need-based financial aid. However, there are non-need-based financial aid programs, including some scholarships, the Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Loan and the Federal PLUS Loan (see Stafford and PLUS Loans).
Q. What is the maximum financial aid I may receive during an academic year?
A. Your total financial aid, including scholarships and loans, may not exceed your cost of attendance. You are responsible for notifying our office if you receive outside aid such as a scholarship, fee waiver, fee reimbursement, or grant. We will review your total financial aid package and determine if any adjustments are required.
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