Financial Aid FAQs
Applying for Financial Aid
Financial Aid Application FAQs
Q. Do I need to complete my income tax return before I complete a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?
While it is recommended that you complete your tax return prior to filling out your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, it is not essential.
You can fill out the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application using estimated information from your W-2; however, take care in estimating your figures.
Any large discrepancies between your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application and your tax return mayhave a large impact on any Financial Aid award you receive.
Q. When am I considered an independent student?
In order to be considered as an independent student for Financial Aid purposes, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be 24 years of age or older;
- Be married;
- Be enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program;
- Be currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces;
- Be a veteran of U.S. Armed Forces;
- Have children who receive more than half of their support from you;
- Have dependents other than your children or spouse;
- Be a dependent/ward of the court or be in foster care;
- Be an emancipated minor;
- Be in legal guardianship;
- Be an unaccompanied youth/homeless determined by high school or district liaison;
- Be an unaccompanied youth/homeless determined by the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing;
- Be an unaccompanied youth/homeless or at risk of being homeless determined by the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center.
Q. Do I have to reapply for Financial Aid every year?
Yes. You need to apply for Financial Aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. After your first year you will receive an email reminder from the federal processor or CA Student Aid Commission. Note that your eligibility for Financial Aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of your Financial Aid also depends on your making Satisfactory Progress (SP) toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA. Please read more about the SP Policy here.
Q. How do I know if I need to submit any additional documents to the Financial Aid Office once I have completed my FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?
Once you have submitted your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, you should log in to your MyPortal account regularly and check your Financial Aid requirements. You can click on the Message Requirements link to print the required forms or transfer to the required websites. After all your requirements have been received, allow 3-4 weeks for the review process to be completed. Be warned - during the peak period (May-October) it may take as long as 6-8 weeks to process your documents. Keep checking back to look for your Financial Aid award or other requirements posted during the review process.
Q. Will my enrollment status affect the amount of Pell Grant that I receive?
Yes. Your Pell Grant refund will get prorated based on the number of units in which you are enrolled for the quarter. For example, you will receive 100% of the Pell Grant if you are a FULL-TIME STUDENT (attempting 12 or more units); 75% of the Pell Grant if you are a THREE-QUARTER-TIME STUDENT (attempting 9 - 11.9 units); 50% of the Pell Grant if you are a HALF-TIME STUDENT (attempting 6 - 8.9 units); less than 50% of the Pell Grant if you are enrolled in less than 6 units.
Q. What does the Unsatisfied Requirements message on MyPortal (Financial Aid app) mean?
If you have a Unsatisfied Requirements message on your Financial Aid app, that is an alert that you need to submit paperwork or that submitted paperwork is either incomplete or not yet reviewed. Click on the Requirements Messages link to view the requirement status. After all your requirements have been received, allow 3-4 weeks for the review process to be completed. Be warned - during the peak period (May-October) it may take as long as 6-8 weeks to process your documents. Keep checking back to look for your Financial Aid award or other requirements posted during the review process.
Q. How long will it take for the Unsatisfied Requirements message on my MyPortal (Financial Aid app) to be cleared?
After all your requirements have been received, allow approximately 2 weeks for the review process to be completed. Be warned - during the peak period (June-October) it may take as long as 3-4 weeks to process your documents. Keep checking back to look for your Financial Aid award or other requirements posted during the review process.
Q. How do I know when my Financial Aid funds are scheduled to disburse?
Every quarter has scheduled disbursement dates. However, if your file is still incomplete and your Financial Aid award has not been packaged by the scheduled disbursement date, it would disburse on one of the following Mondays of the quarter. Depending on which "refund option" you have chosen with BankMobile Disbursements, a technology solution, powered by BMTX, Inc., disbursed funds are available to students approximately one week after disbursement.
Q. Why do I have to complete a "Maximum Time Frame Appeal" if I have not yet completed 120 units?
If you have attempted 120 units or have received a degree from any college or universities, including outside of the United States, uou will need to complete a Maximum Time Frame Appeal Form More information available on the Financial Aid Appeals page.
Q. What are the most common reasons for a student to be on Financial Aid warning or disqualification?
If a student fails to meet the requirements for either the Completed units or Quarterly GPA OR Cumulative GPA that student may be placed on warning or disqualification. Please visit our website at to get the details of our Satisfactory Progress Policy (SAP).