Financial Aid

 Financial Aid can come in many forms:

  • Grants – Money that is granted to you that you do not have to repay.  It is typically based on financial need.
  • Scholarships – Free money usually based on your area of study or merit.
  • Work Study or Student Employment Programs – These are granted through the federal government or the college specifically.  Colleges provide work study directly through their schools.  See an example on SDSU's website here
  • Loans – Borrowed money that you must pay back, usually with interest.


How do I access Financial Aid?
Financial Aid can be used at any accredited post-secondary learning institution.  Community colleges, state universities, independent and private colleges, career colleges and vocational/technical schools are all institutions where financial aid can be utilized.  Students apply for financial aid during the winter of their senior year in high school.  The way in which students apply is by submitting a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) between January 1st and March 2nd of their senior year.  Students will need the assistance of their parents/guardian in applying for financial aid as they will have to complete a family financial statement.  It is important that all students apply for financial aid regardless of their family’s income level.  Students can always turn down financial aid, but they cannot access funds if they never apply.

How do I complete the FAFSA?
Students MUST apply online for financial aid at .  You can also access assistance by phone at 1-800-433-3243.

*  Please note!  Students need to make sure to use the correct web address when applying for financial aid.  If you complete the FAFSA and at the end it asks you to pay money, you are at the wrong site.  The FAFSA application is FREE.  

What information is needed to complete the FAFSA?

Student Information
*  Must be a US citizen or permanent resident (Alien registration number required if permanent resident)
*  Valid social security number 
*  Mailing address
*  E-mail address
*  Estimate of income earned from work (if the student worked)

Parent Information
* Parents’ marital status date (if married/divorced/separated/widowed)
* Parents’ social security number (if they have one)
* Parents’ full name as it appears on their social security card (if they have one)
* Parents’ date of birth
* Parents’ federal tax form  (if they filed)
* If parents do not file taxes or are not required to file, an estimate of their 2011 income is acceptable
* Any asset information (if they have assets such as properties other than their home, investments, etc.)

Signing the FAFSA
At the end of the FAFSA application, both the student and one parent will need to “sign” the FAFSA with a PIN number.  You can create the PIN number within the application for fastest processing.  If the parent does not have a social security number, the student will need to print the signature page and have the parent sign and then submit by mail.  It is important to send the document through registered mail so that the student has documentation that the signature page was submitted on time.  

Sending the FAFSA to Colleges
Within the FAFSA application, students are asked to list the colleges where they would like to have their information submitted.  Students can list up to 10 colleges and should be sure to list at least one California school (see Cal Grant below).  Once colleges receive the FAFSA information, it will grant them access to your family’s financial records and they can speak with you directly about what kind of financial assistance they can offer you.  

Student Aid Report (SAR) 
The SAR is a report from the federal processor summarizing the information you provided on the FAFSA.  You should receive the SAR within 72 hours by email if you submitted the FAFSA online (up to two weeks if by paper).  You should review the SAR immediately for accuracy.  If there are any mistakes or changes, you should submit them right away.  If you do not receive a SAR, you should call to make sure your application went through at 800-433-3243.

Calculating your Financial Need
Your Student Aid Report will list your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The EFC is the amount of money the government believes you or your family could reasonably contribute toward your education based on your FAFSA.  In addition, each college has its own student budget called their Cost of Attendance (COA).  The COA includes costs such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, transportation and personal expenses.  

Your demonstrated financial need = Cost of Attendance - EFC


Cal Grants are grants given to students who meet certain GPA and financial need qualifications.  These grants are offered to qualifying California resident students who attend a college in California.  Students who are awarded Cal Grants cannot use the funds to attend an out of state school. 

How do I apply for a CAL GRANT? 
Students must submit their FAFSA with their social security number.  A GPA verification must also be submitted.  These two things MUST happen before March 2nd of senior year.  Monte Vista High School submits every student’s GPA verification electronically to the California Student Aid Commission in January each year.  It is important that we have the correct social security number on file for your student.  The FAFSA social security number and the GPA Verification electronic submission social security number must match in order for your student to potentially qualify for a Cal Grant.  Students can verify the social security number we have on file by seeing their counselor or a secretary in the main office. 

In order to verify that your Cal Grant application has been completed, you can create an account at  Once created, have your student check the status of the Cal Grant application.  There should be a green check mark by the GPA verification.  If there is not a green check mark, please have your student see her/his counselor immediately.  Your counselor can research and find out if we possibly submitted the wrong social security number for you.  If this is the case, we can send a fax with the correction and the California Student Aid Commission will honor it as being submitted on time.  The only way we can correct this error however is if your student tells us of the mistake.  We have no way to know there is a problem unless the student informs us.