UC Transfer Financial Aid & Scholarships

General Financial Aid Information

There are endless resources online to help you find money for college. Just beware of places that ask you to pay for information and/or places that ask for your social security number up front. California Student Aid Commission has some resources on how to avoid scholarship scams: Is it a free scholarship? Or a scam? You should also try your local library; many online resources are published in book form (and staying offline when you first get started might be a good idea until you learn how to spot a scam). For libraries on the Dewey Decimal System, look for call number 378 for financial aid books.

For an overview of tax credits and college savings plans, see Tax Benefits from Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of misconceptions about how much colleges charge for tuition. Public colleges (like the UCs) are not necessarily cheaper than private colleges. As of 2011, every college that participates in federal student aid programs must post a “net price calculator” on its website to provide estimated out-of-pocket tuition cost. Search “net price calculator” on the college website to find out how much you are expected to pay to help you decide whether the college is affordable.

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Federal, State, and UC Financial Aid Resources

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FAFSA Workshops

Need help with filling out FAFSA? Sign up for one of the FREE California Cash for College workshops near you to get assistance on filling out your FAFSA and Cal Grant GPA Verification Form. Workshops are available from January to the March 2 priority deadline.

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UC Tuition & Financial Aid

For comprehensive financial aid information directly from the UCs, including different types of financial aid available and ways to control cost, visit UC Tuition & Financial Aid.

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UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan

Under the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, California transfer students whose family income is below $80,000 will receive enough scholarships and grants to fully cover their UC fees for the first 2 years at the UC. But keep in mind that the expensive part of an UC education is not the fees but the housing and everything else. See Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan for more information.

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California Middle Class Scholarship

Under the Middle Class Scholarship program, California transfer students with family assets up to $184,000 and income up to $184,000 will receive enough scholarships and grants to cover 10% to 40% of their UC fees. But keep in mind that the expensive part of an UC education is not the fees but the housing and everything else. See Middle Class Scholarship for more information.

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State and Federal Financial Aid Programs

Below are links to financial aid programs from the state of California and the federal government:

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Financial Aid and Financial Planning Assistance

Given that FAFSA utilizes “Prior-Prior Year” (using tax information from two years prior for the current cycle of FAFSA) to calculate your financial aid eligibility, the ideal time to optimize it is at least THREE YEARS prior to college enrollment. However, even if you are late to the game, there are still things you can do now to improve your financial aid eligibility in future years. If you need help (or a second opinion), I recommend Stephanie Hancock of College AidWorks. She is knowledgeable, honest, and she genuinely cares about helping her clients get the best financial aid package possible (I spent two hours talking to her on the phone and learned more about financial aid than all of my previous years combined!).

Ready to jumpstart your financial aid process now? Enjoy an exclusive discount (pay $500 instead of $799) when you sign up for Stephanie’s AidProfiler (use this link to access the discount)! Stephanie will assess your current financial status and identify any opportunity to receive aid, where, and under what circumstances. You will walk away with a clear understanding of how much financial aid you will qualify and what actions you can take to maximize your need-based and merit-based aid. In addition, Stephanie is a financial advisor with Hancock Wealth Advisory (a registered investment adviser).

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Student Loans

Carefully consider your financial situation and take the time to apply for scholarships before taking out student loans. Be wary of the assumption that using loans to pay for college is the norm and that everything will work out. The government, colleges, and private lenders are NOT taking the time to educate you on how to manage your money or explain how crushing student loan debt could ruin your life. Loans are too easy to take out and the interests add up too quickly (particularly for unsubsidized or private loans). Federal student loans will follow you for life and not to be taken lightly (you will carry the debt until you die because student loans typically cannot be discharged through bankruptcy). Predatory student loan servicers have also contributed to skyrocketing student loan default rates (find a 2019 video here that offers a clear, comprehensive explanation of the problem and a 2024 update here – please note both videos contain explicit language); although California student loan borrowers will benefit from expanded state protection starting in 2021.

There are resources out there to help though, you just have to look (and beware of scams). Do an online search for “interest free loans for students” or use the Interest Free Student Loans list put together by Student Loan Hero as a starting point.

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Information for AB 540/DACA/DREAM Students

California has passed legislation to provide state and UC financial aid to AB 540/DACA/DREAM students. To qualify for aid, you must file the California Dream Act Application and NOT the FAFSA (even if you have a DACA SSN; filing the FAFSA when you should be filing the California Dream Act Application will delay processing of your financial aid award). In addition, you may borrow money through the California DREAM Loan Program to cover any financial aid gap.

ScholarshipsA-Z maintains a pretty comprehensive list of scholarships for AB 540 students. MALDEF publishes Scholarship Resources that include a Scholarship Resource Guide with AB 540 scholarships. Immigrants Rising (formerly Educators for Fair Consideration) has a list of scholarships available for immigrant students that don’t have U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency.

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Scholarship Search Sites

Below is a list of vetted scholarship search sites. Keep in mind that no matter how legitimate the search sites are, they cannot keep out fraudsters 100% of the time. Take caution when you apply for scholarships and look around online to verify the legitimacy of the organizations before you submit your personal information. For tips on avoiding scams, see the General Financial Aid Information above.

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