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Financial Aid

FAFSA Process


Step One: Gather Personal Information: This information will help you complete the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA)
  • Social Security Number (yours AND your parents’)
  • W2 Forms from your employer
  • Your parents’ 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ forms

Do Not Wait for your parents to file their current tax forms!  You may use estimates based on the previous year’s tax forms.  You will have an opportunity to correct these later when you receive the Student Aid Report (SAR).


Step Two: GPA Verification:  This is needed to determine if you are eligible for CAL GRANTS.

  • ECHS will submit your GPA verification form electronically to expedite the process, BUT we must have an accurate Social Security Number on file!


Step Three: Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

In order to maximize the amount of aid, fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.  Deadline is March 2.

The FAFSA is the application that is used to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for. Cal Grants, Pell Grants, College Grants and some scholarships are calculated using the FAFSA.

 Go to–this is the ONLY official site. There are websites that may look official, but if they are charging you money to file, you are on the wrong website!

Remember – Applying for Financial Aid is FREE!


Step Four: Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) and your California Aid Report (CAR)

The SAR is proof that your FAFSA was received.  You should receive your SAR within 72 hours of filing the FAFSA.

  • Review your SAR right away for accuracy and follow the instructions if you need to make corrections.
  • Call 1-800-4-FED-AID if you don’t receive your SAR.
  • Your SAR contains your EFC at the top right corner without a dollar sign.
  • Each college you list on your FAFSA will receive your SAR information and use it to process your Financial Aidpackage or Financial Aid Award Letter.

If you are offered a Cal Grant, you’ll receive a California Aid Report (CAR) in the mail.  Your CAR will list the first 3 CA colleges you listed on your FAFSA where you can use your Cal Grant.

  • If you need to make corrections:
  • If you will be attending a California Community College you should receive your letter in early October.


Calculating Financial Aid

COA - EFC=Financial Aid

COA-Cost of Attendance (tuition)

EFC-Expected Family Contribution (what your family is expected to pay)

Step Five: Evaluate Your Financial Aid Offers

Your prospective colleges will try to meet your financial need through aid made up of funds from federal, state, school and private sources.  This may include grants, scholarships, work-study (student employment) and loans.


Your offers will typically vary from college to college, so you may want to wait until you’ve seen all your offers before deciding to accept admission – BUT BE AWARE OF DEADLINES!

You don’t have to accept your entire student aid package, but can pick and choose the aid you want.  You can accept grants and loans and decline student loans.  Just know that whatever you decline may not be available later if you change your mind or if your circumstances change.