Verifying Your Income for the CA Dream Act Application

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!

  1. 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!

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Academic Probation and Financial Aid

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.

Academic Level Earned Units GPA
Freshman 0-29 Below 1.5
Sophomore 30-59 Below 1.70
Junior 60-89 Below 1.85
Senior 90+ Below 1.95

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

  1. Meet with your advisors and professors for advisement
  2. Take advantage of academic resources on campus, like your school’s Learning Center
  3. Being a proactive student
  4. Following a structured schedule for studying and me-time

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About the AB 540, AB 2000, and SB 68 Affidavit

Simply put, the AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68 Affidavit allows undocumented students to be charged in-state tuition, rather than out-of-state tuition. Read more about the Affidavit below!

Should I fill out the Affidavit?

If you are a new incoming college student who is:

  •  undocumented,
  • a Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantee, 
  • a student with T or U nonimmigrant status,
  • under Temporary Protected Status (TPS),
  • a Lawful Permanent Resident, OR
  • classified as any kind of nonresident

 You meet the eligibility criteria for AB 540, AB 2000, or SB 68, and should fill out the Affidavit. 

Note: Students who have been admitted to the U.S. on a temporary nonimmigrant visa (with the exception of T & U Visas holders) are not eligible to apply for the nonresident tuition exemption.

Why should I fill out an affidavit?

For two main reasons:

  1. If you are not classified as a state resident, you will be charged non-resident fees until your affidavit and necessary documentation are submitted and processed at the school you plan to attend. 
  2. Additionally, you will not be eligible to receive your California Dream Act financial aid until your affidavit is processed.

What documentation do I have to submit?

There are two types of documentation you may be required to submit with the affidavit: 

  1. An official copy of your transcripts from:
    • a CA High School or the equivalent (GED), 
    • a California Community College (credit or non-credit), 
    • an Adult School, OR 
    • a combination of these transcripts. 
  2. Proof that you have or will have graduated with:
    • a high school diploma or the equivalent (GED or CHSPE), 
    • an Associate’s Degree from a California Community College, OR
    • proof that you will have completed the minimum requirements for transfer to a CSU or UC. 

Note: If you have three years of high school coursework, and attended a combination of three years at CA elementary & secondary schools, you may also be required to submit your transcripts from these schools.

When should I submit my affidavit?

You should submit your affidavit prior to the deadline listed at your school. This is usually sometime after you receive your acceptance letter and prior to your new student orientation. Continuing students should not be required to submit a new affidavit, once it’s been approved unless they have not attended classes for a full year and need to reapply to the school.

Where should I submit my affidavit? 

You must submit your affidavit to the Admissions or Registrar’s Office at the college or university you plan to attend. Once you submit it, you should follow-up within the next 2 weeks to BE SURE that the College or University received all the necessary paperwork.


How do I complete the Affidavit?

Fill out your full name, student ID number, address, email, and schools attended, including dates and length of time. You will also be required to attest that you meet the eligibility criteria. You must check the immigration box that pertains to you and sign the form.

  • T or U non-immigrant or refugee status students should consult with their school before completing the affidavit. AB 1899 allows individuals who have been granted T or U status to be considered for in-state tuition eligibility without waiting a year if they meet the criteria described above. Under AB 343, refugees, T and U visa holders may also be eligible to pay in-state rates immediately, under another exception for these students, if they settled originally in California.
  • Students who do NOT have a current nonimmigrant status, including students who are undocumented, DACA recipients, have TPS, Lawful Permanent Residents, and other lawfully residing immigrants should check the SECOND box.

Check out these sites to see how the Affidavit looks like for a community college, a CSU, and a UC.

For more information about submitting an affidavit go here: Submitting the AB 540/AB 2000/SB 68 Affidavit

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Student Loans 101: An Intro Guide to Student Loans

Student Loans 101: An Intro Guide to Student Loans

Paying for college can seem intimidating, but after calculating your net price, you’ll get a better sense of your education’s affordability. Though you may receive grants, scholarships, and other money you do not have to pay back, you may have to take out loans to pay for school.

What exactly is a loan?

Simply put, a loan is money that is borrowed. Unlike your grants and other aid, you will eventually have to repay your loan. That said, there are varying types of loans that have different terms and conditions. This article will cover the most common types of college loans. 

Federal subsidized loan

After reviewing your FAFSA application, your school may offer you a subsidized loan if they deem you high-need. The amount they offer you will depend on the rest of your financial aid package. They will never offer you a subsidized loan that exceeds the cost of your school’s attendance.

With a subsidized loan, you are not required to pay interest while you are a student (half time or more). After you graduate, you have six months until you are required to begin paying. This loan is offered by the federal government. 

Federal Unsubsidized loan

Regardless of your financial need, your school will offer you an unsubsidized loan. The amount they will offer you will depend on the rest of your financial aid package. 

With an unsubsidized loan, you are required to begin paying interest as soon as you take out the loan. If you do not want to pay the interest immediately, you may defer your payments (postpone them). Deferring your payments, however, will add the interest due to your capital (the original amount of money you borrowed). Read more on interest and capital below.

Federal vs Private loans

Despite the complexity of federal loans, they are both better options than a private loan from a bank or other financial institution. Federal loans have lower interest rates than banks, meaning that in the long run, you will pay less back. Some of the federal loans perks include:

  • Terms and conditions set by law. Conversely, private lenders can change their terms and conditions whenever they want.
  • Fixed interest rates. This means you won’t be subjected to a higher interest rate because of the market or your credit score. Private lenders can change their interest rates as they see fit. With lower interest rates, you pay less in the long run!
  • Loan forgiveness programs. Your federal debt may be forgiven if you work in certain public service sectors. 

CA Dream Loan Program
If you are an undocumented student in California, you are not eligible for federal student loans. However, California has the CA Dream Loan Program available to undergraduate and graduate students attending the CSU and UC. 

Your school’s financial aid office will offer you the loan based on your Dream Act application. The maximum loan is $4,000 a year. You are not required to pay interest while you are in school and have six months to start paying your loan off. The terms and agreements are almost identical to the federal subsidized loan. 

Read more about the difference between government (state and federal)  and private loans here. We at Let’s Go to College CA, highly encourage you to use government loans over private loans; we believe the terms and conditions are better than private loans. 

Principal and Interest Rate

What is a principal?

In finance, the principal is the amount of money that you owe. If you take out a $1,000 loan, your principal is simply $1,000.

What is interest?

Interest is the cost of borrowing money. A financial institution will charge you a percentage of the capital, that you have to pay back on their terms. You can pay the interest monthly, yearly, or however often required. 

People often think that when you pay interest, you are paying off your loan. This is incorrect. You are simply paying the financial institution for the privilege of having the capital.

Let’s say you take out a $1,000 loan. The interest rate (the percentage of the capital) is 10%. This means that monthly, you are paying the financial institution $100. Even though you are paying $100 every month, your capital, the $1000 you originally borrowed, is still $1000. Again, this is because you have only been paying interest.

The only way to decrease the capital is to pay extra money in addition to the interest. If your capital is $1000 and your interest rate is 10%, then you may want to pay $150. That way, $100 goes towards interest and $50 towards your capital. Then, your capital is $950. This means that your interest payment is now $95. Remember, interest is simply a percentage of the capital you owe. 

Please note that with unsubsidized loans, your deferred interest becomes part of your capital. Let’s say you took out a $1000 loan. You differ your 10% interest rates for a whole year (12 months), meaning you did not pay $1200 worth of interest. This amount gets added to your capital, so instead of owing $1000, you now owe $2200. This is how student debt accumulates significantly!

Check out these Youtube videos for more explanation on capital and interest rates. 

Check out this US News Report article on college financial literacy. It includes links and brief explanations on budgeting, living on your own, filing taxes, and more. 

Vocabulary Summary

Here is a quick rundown of the terms mentioned above!

Federal Subsidized – a loan that does not charge interest until six months after you have graduate college given by the federal government.

Federal Unsubsidized – a loan that charges interest as soon as you take the loan out given by the federal government.

Private loan – a loan that charges interest as soon as you take it out, given by a private lender like a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.

Capital – the amount of money that you owe.

Interest – a percentage of the capital that you are charged for the privilege of the loan

Please know that Let’s Go to College CA is student-led and student-centered. We understand the burden of student debt and will constantly advocate for better affordability. Please check back soon for more information on paying back loans, loan forgiveness, and more.

Appealing Your Financial Aid Award

Appealing Your Financial Aid Award

UC and CSU system officials are stating that financial aid appeals are up in both systems, with some campuses seeing as many as twice as many financial aid appeals as they had the year before.

If your financial situation has changed you can file an appeal at any time throughout your college journey. There is a chance your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) might be lowered. If your financial aid office lowers your EFC in response to your financial aid appeal, you may be able to take out additional federal loans or receive additional scholarships.

Financial aid appeal or request is available to qualifying students at all types of institutions offering federal financial aid. Federal law allows your financial aid office to make changes to your financial aid package under certain circumstances. Each school has its own process and requirements.

COVID-19 has impacted our families and communities tremendously. This might be a good time to consider if you qualify to submit a financial aid appeal. There is a free resource that will help you write a financial aid appeal letter – for free.

SwiftStudent is the only FREE, digital resource that provides financial aid appeal letter templates for students. Through SwiftStudent, students can learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements for making an appeal, and customize a financial aid appeal to start the conversation with your college financial aid office.

Get your appeal started today!