Tulare County Online College Guide

Paying for College

Paying for college, or getting financial help to go to college, used to be a fairly simple matter. Not anymore! Parents and students who are trying to get financial help for attending the school of their choice are faced with a mysterious new world - the world of financial aid.

What is Financial Aid?

Financial assistance given to a student to help with college costs is defined as "financial aid."

Who Gets Financial Aid?

Most financial aid is based on "financial need," which is determined through two factors: the cost of college attendance and the amount of money the student and his/her family are expected to contribute.

How is Financial Need Determined?

Financial need is calculated by taking the difference between cost of attendance, expected family contribution and any other assistance you may receive (i.e., scholarships). If your family contribution and assistance are less than the cost of attendance, you are considered to have "need" at your chosen school. If attending your chosen school costs less than your family contribution and assistance, you are considered to be in a "non-need" situation. Being in a "non-need" situation is not a reason to give up on getting financial help!

How is Financial Aid Given?

Financial aid comes in two forms: gift aid and self-help aid. Gift aid comes in the form of scholarships and grants, and does not have to be repaid. Self-help aid comes in the form of loans, which have to be repaid, and/or college work study, which is working to help pay the cost of college.

Filing Your Financial Aid Forms

The optimal window for filing forms in California is January 2 to March 2 of your senior year. You will be completing the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" - or FAFSA for short.

In addition, some colleges will have separate financial aid applications to complete. Sometimes this is a form published by the college that you complete and return directly to the college. Be sure to check with your college's financial aid office for details.

In California, students can apply for CalGrants to be used at California institutions. To apply for a CalGrant, you need to have your counselor complete a Grade Point Average Verification form. This form is sent directly to the Student Aid Commission.


To learn more about obtaining financial aid, come to the College Night event and obtain a free College Planning Guide!

Tulare County Online College Guide