Pell Grants are federal grants for students with financial need, while Cal Grants are state grants that assist needy students. The difference between the two is that some Cal Grants require a minimum GPA score, while federal Pell Grants do not. Both grants can be used by those who meet eligiblity requirements at colleges throughout the state of . In some cases, you may be eligible for both the Pell Grant and the Cal Grant program. To find out more about what types of college and education these grants are for, who is eligible and how to apply for them, continue to the sections below.
What is a Pell Grant ?
The federal Pell Grant program provides funding for students with financial need. Unlike a loan, the Pell Grant does not need to be repaid. There is a maximum amount that is granted per student each year. The amount you receive will depend on several factors, including your financial needs, how much it will cost you to attend school, whether you are a full-time or a part-time student and if you are planning to attend school for a full academic year or not.
Learn About Pell Grant Requirements
In order to qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must meet several state qualifications. Many of these eligibility requirements are similar to those requested by other benefit programs, like CalFresh and CalWORKs. To be eligible for the Pell Grant in CA, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident.
- Demonstrate financial need.
- Have a Social Security Number.
- Have obtained a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
- Maintain satisfactory academic standards.
- Be enrolled in an institute of higher education.
- Be working on a first undergraduate degree or a teaching certificate.
To learn more about Pell Grant program eligibiity, download our comprehensive guide.
What are Cal Grants ?
The Cal Grant program provides funding for students with financial need. Like the Pell Grant, Cal Grants do not have to be paid back. Cal Grants may be used at universities and colleges throughout the state. They may also be used at some of ’s technical schools and career colleges. There are three types of Cal Grants. You do not need to decide which one to apply for; your eligibility is determined by your responses to the questions on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA application. The types of Cal Grants in CA include the below.
Cal Grant A provides financial assistance for students who are attending four-year colleges. The amount awarded for the Cal Grant Program will depend on the type of college you are attending. There is a minimum GPA requirement for this grant. Your course of study must lead to an associate or a bachelor’s degree.
Cal Grant B provides financial assistance for tuition and fees, as well as a living allowance after the first year for students who are attending two-year or four-year colleges. For first-year students, it pays only living allowance. There is a minimum GPA requirement for this grant as well.
Cal Grant C provides financial assistance for technical or career education. Cal Grant C covers tuition and fees as well as funding for books and equipment if you are attending a school other than a Community College. This grant is available for up to two years.
Requirements for Cal Grant
Cal Grant eligibility depends on several specific criteria. You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal noncitizen and resident of , to start. You must be attending a qualifying college and be working toward your first bachelor’s or professional degree. You must also be able to show financial need and have a family income below the maximum allowed levels.
To learn more about the Cal Grant Program, download our comprehensive guide.
How to Apply for a Federal Pell Grant or a Cal Grant
If you are wondering how to apply for a Cal Grant or to how to apply for a Pell Grant, then the easiest way to go about it is to complete the FAFSA application. If you do this, you will be able to complete a Cal Grant application and a Pell Grant application at the same time. The quickest way to complete the FAFSA application is online. But if you prefer, you can download and print the form and mail it, instead. You can also call the toll-free number and have a form sent to your address. If you decide to mail in your application, make sure you keep copies of all your documents and that you have proof of the date it was sent. You will need to provide information about your most recent federal tax return, any income you have earned over the previous year and your family situation. If you are a dependent student, then you will also need to provide information about your parents. The deadline for the completion of FAFSA is March 2 of each year.