Merced County Office of Education

Paying for College

Paying for College‚Äč

    Every college hopeful must inevitably face the dreaded question: How am I going to pay for my education? Thankfully, there are many ways for students to get assistance with paying for college. Financial aid is key to understanding how your family, your school, and your government can play an important role in a successful college experience.

    There are three types of financial aid:

  1. Gift Aid: grants or scholarships that do NOT need to be repaid. Examples are Cal Grants and Federal Pell Grants.
  2. Work-Study: Money earned by the student as payment for a job on or off campus.
  3. Loans: Borrowed money to be paid back, usually with interest. Federal loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized.

    Financial aid can come from different sources. These include the federal government, the state government, the college/university that you will be attending, private companies or foundation, and parents' employers.

    About Cal-Grants: Cal-grants come in two main types, A and B. The A entitlement grant is awarded to students with at least 3.0 GPA, family income and assets below state ceiling, and demonstrate financial need. The B entitlement has the same requirements, except the minimum GPA is 2.0. A third, Cal-grant C, is reserved for low income students attending vocational schools. Additional requirements include being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, being a resident of California, and attending an accredited California college/university at least halftime. The application process involves completing and submitting the FAFSA and Cal Grant GPA Verification form, available by talking to your high school advisor/counselor.

    About California Chafee Grant: The California Chafee Grant program provides up to $5,000 annually to current and former foster youth for college or vocational training at any accredited college in the U.S. based on available funding. To be eligible, foster youth must have been in California foster care on their 16th birthday and not have reached their 22nd birthday before July 1 of the year of application. Foster youth are encouraged to apply during their senior year of high school. To apply, the foster youth must complete their FAFSA and the California Chafee Grant program application. For more information, visit

    Other application forms that may be required by your college are the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, Institutional Scholarship and/or Financial Aid application, and federal tax returns (along with all schedules and W-2s) or other income documentation.