Work-study is one of the financial aid options that are available to you if you qualify for it. There are usually on-campus work-study programs or off-campus work-study programs. You must connect with your school to see what options are available for you.
There are several benefits of a work-study job including flexibility with hours, little or no commute since most opportunities are on campus, and easy access to campus resources.
To learn more about work-study programs, download this guide Work +Work-Study. Guide provided by DecidED
What is Academic Probation?
Academic Probation is a term used to describe when a student’s overall, or campus GPA, falls below a 2.0. All students are subject to this rule.
What happens if I am on Academic Probation?
While on academic probation, there are a few things the school will require you to do.
What is the difference between Probation and Disqualification?
Academic Disqualification occurs when a student does not meet their class level GPA. When a student is academically disqualified, they may not be able to enroll in classes and are discontinued from attending the institution.
Can I still get financial aid on academic probation?
Yes, you can still get financial aid if you are on academic probation. Each school has specific rules and procedures to help you stay on track.
How can I make sure I don’t lose aid?
To avoid potentially losing aid, you must have a status of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) (check with your specific school on how to meet SAP). Failure to meet SAP may result in being ineligible for aid.
Tips on improving academic performance and staying out of probation
- Meet with your advisors and professors for advisement
- Take advantage of academic resources on campus, like your school’s Learning Center
- Being a proactive student
- Following a structured schedule for studying and me-time
Financial aid offers from the colleges you have been accepted to oftentimes don’t cover the entire direct cost of college. This means that after financial aid has been applied, there is usually a balance leftover that the student must pay, which is billed by the college. The total amount due for the year is typically split into two or three bills, based on whether the college goes by the semester system, quarter system, or credit hours. The student will receive the fall bill via mail or via the student’s college portal in June or July. Bill due dates will vary by college, but typically must be paid before classes for the new term start.
There are several options for paying the college bill, and it all depends on what works for you and your family. When planning to pay the college bill, students and families should consider these options first:
- Family/student savings from savings accounts, and/or college savings plans (such as 529 college savings accounts, if applicable)
- Earnings from summer or part-time jobs may help cover part of the college bill or cover indirect expenses like transportation, books, or dorm room supplies.
- Outside scholarships can be used at any college or university. Search for scholarships online and pay close attention to deadlines.
- Tuition Payment Plans may make the bill more manageable by enabling you to pay the estimated bill over the course of the school year instead of having to pay it all at once and with no interest accrual. You can look at your college’s website for payment plans available and see if there is one that fits your family’s budget.
These are the best options to pay the college bill because they do not need to be repaid in the future. However, student loans are also another option. If you are considering taking out student loans to cover the college bill, it is advisable to maximize your eligibility for Federal Direct Student Loans or campus-based loans first before looking at private student loans. There are several reasons why federal student loans and campus-based loans may be more beneficial than those you may find on the private market:
- Favorable interest rates and terms
- Eligibility doesn’t depend on credit history
- More flexibility during repayment
- May be eligible for loan forgiveness if you work in a certain field
In addition to Federal Direct Loans offered to you, the student, there is also a federal loan option for parent(s) who would like to help their children cover the college bill. The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allows parents to borrow up to the cost of attendance (after existing financial aid has been taken into account) every year of college, with no long-term cumulative limit. In addition, they may postpone monthly payments on the loan until after their child graduates (although interest will continue to accrue on the loan balance regardless). Also important to note, if your parent(s) apply for the PLUS but are denied, you become eligible for an additional $4,000 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans for the school year. If you find yourself in this situation you should contact your financial aid office for the next steps in having the extra loan amount credited to your account.
After submitting the CA Dream Act Application, you may be asked to verify the information you provided about your income. Don’t worry, you did not do anything wrong if you are selected; a percentage of all applicants are required to verify income as general practice. If you happen to be selected, follow the steps below!
- Know if you have you have to verify your income
Not all CA Dream Act applicants are required to verify their income. You will know if you must verify your income via email or schools’ online portals. If you do not receive any notification about verifying income, then you do not need to take additional steps at the moment.
2. Know if you are Dependent or Independent Student
You are Dependent if you are all of the following:
- under 24 years old or born after 1/1/98,
- not legally married (single),
- have no children or other dependents,
- and are pursuing an undergraduate degree.
If you are Dependent then you MUST provide information on BOTH your income and your parents’ income. Even if you do not live with your parents or receive their financial support, you must provide their information. Some exceptions on this may apply depending on school.
You are Independent if you are at least one of the following:
- over 24 years old or born before 1/1/98,
- legally married,
- have children or other dependents for whom you provide 50% of their support,
- a veteran or active duty,
- an orphan or ward of the court,
- at risk of homelessness,
- have a special circumstance,
- or pursuing a graduate degree.
If you are Independent, then you will only provide income information about yourself.
3. Know if you and/or your parents are Tax Filers
If you and/or your parents file taxes, be prepared to obtain the 2019 tax return transcript (note: this is different from the tax account transcript). You may request the tax return transcript from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for free online or through the phone. The person requesting the transcript must be the one who signed the taxes; someone else is not allowed.
If you and/or your parents do not file taxes, prepare the following information/documents:
- all 2019 household income earned,
- financial assistance or benefits (if received),
- a copy of W-2 form(s).
Be aware that if you or your parents earned over the IRS income filing limits, you may be required to file taxes in order to receive a financial aid award.
If you and/or your parents do not file taxes because of cash payment and do not have a W-2 form, you must explain the circumstances in the school verification worksheet. You may be required to include proof of non-filing from the IRS.
4. Fill our the Income Verification Worksheet
After you have determined where you stand with dependent/independent status and tax filing status, you will fill out the Income Verification Worksheet. A standard worksheet asks about/for the following:
- Household Size: The rules of the CA Dream Application define households as you (the student); the biological or adoptive parents; siblings under the age of 24 in most cases; and/or other dependents for whom the parents are financially responsible (such as an elderly or disabled person). Additional family members or individuals that live within the home, but do not meet these requirements should not be included in the household.
- Marital Status: Indicate whether the parent or you are single, married, separated or divorced, or widowed. Parents who are living together, but are not married should choose that option.
- Tax Filing Status: Indicate whether you and/or parent or spouse is a tax filer or a non-tax filer.
- Financial Aid Received: List the amount of grants or scholarships you received during 2020 and the school(s) attended.
- Child Support Paid: List the amount of any child support paid in 2020, including the child’s name, the name of the person who paid child support, and the name of the person to whom it was paid.
- SNAP Benefits Received: Indicate whether you and/or your parents received SNAP benefits in 2020 or 2021. Documentation from the agency that issued SNAP benefits may be required upon request.
- Certification and Signature: By signing the verification worksheet, you and/or your parent certify that all the information is true. Signing also authorizes the Financial Aid Office to update the student’s California Dream Application per CSAC guidelines and the information provided.
- Additional Documentation: An individual college or university has the right to ask for additional documentation regarding household size or income earned if it is necessary to gain an adequate understanding of how household expenses were met for 2020.
- Multiple Schools: If you listed more than one school on the CA Dream Application, you will be required to complete income verification at each school individually.
It is natural to feel overwhelmed by this process! Remember that this is standard procedure for a certain percentage of students who apply for the Dream Act. Do not be discouraged. We, and many others, are here to support you through the process!
Navigating your financial aid award letter can be confusing because of all the unknown terms and definitions. It is important to understand your total attendance cost so that you determine what you may need to pay out of pocket.
Tuition and Fees are part of the expenses on your financial aid award letter. Tuition refers to the cost of attendance and fees are other expenses like room and board, meal plans, and books!
To learn more about tuition and fees, download this guide Tuition and Fees Explained. Guide provided by DecidED