How to Apply for Financial Aid

Apply for Financial Aid

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How to Apply for Financial Aid

Are you ready to apply for Financial Aid? Don't wait! Get started now -- the earlier you apply, the better chance you have to receive available funds. Below is a step-by-step Financial Aid application checklist and related FAQ. If you or your parent has any questions, please contact our office.

Financial Aid application checklist

Step 1: File a 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Important Tips

  • Submit only one application. Understanding FAFSA.
  • To electronically apply and sign your FAFSA, students and parents must have a FSA ID. To create an FSA ID, please visit For additional information on how to create an FSA ID, view this helpful video.
  • An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at
  • If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child's FAFSA electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique e-mail address. Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don't give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft!
  • To reduce possible mistakes and streamline the financial aid application process, students and parents may be eligible to use the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval process. This means when you fill out your FAFSA you may be eligible to automatically transfer your federal tax information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA! To use this feature, we strongly encourage you and your parents to file your federal tax returns as early as possible before completing the FAFSA.
  • Enter CSUDH's institutional code 001141 in the Federal School Code field and CSUDH will receive your results electronically. Review the application carefully to make sure all answers are completed and are accurate. If you or our parents have questions or are unsure on how to complete the application, call our office at (310) 243-3691. By providing complete responses, the analysis of your financial circumstances will be thorough and will provide us with the ability to be sensitive to your individual needs.
  • Submit any requested documents via Financial Aid Dropbox.
  • If you are a new CSUDH student, do not wait until you are admitted to the University to apply for financial aid. The earlier you apply, the better chance you have that funds will be available.

Step 2: You will receive various notifications

  • Notification from CSUDH's Financial Aid Office: Once we have received your FAFSA information, you will receive an acknowledgement letter from our office.
  • Notification from the Federal Processor: Once you have submitted your FAFSA, you will receive an email notification that will contain a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR can't be used to make corrections to your FAFSA. You'll need to make corrections on your SAR online using your FSA ID at the FAFSA website or request a paper SAR. If you submitted your FAFSA online without an email address, you'll receive a paper SAR Acknowledgement. This SAR Acknowledgement will have all of the information you provided on the FAFSA.
  • Cal Grant Notification from the California Student Aid Commission: If you are selected to receive a Cal Grant, you will be sent a California Aid Report (CAR) by the California Student Aid Commission. Students must follow the printed instructions on the CAR.
  • Verification Notification: You may be randomly selected by the Federal Government for a verification process. In this event, we will send you a notification.

Step 3: You are awarded financial aid

  • If you are eligible, you will be awarded financial aid. You will receive a letter from our office as well as an email notification of your financial aid award and amount. Or, you also may check your financial aid award status online at

Step 4: Accept or decline your financial aid award

  • If you are awarded financial aid, you must accept or decline financial aid online at Be sure to read our Financial Aid Award Guide [PDF], which contains pertinent information about the offer as well as explains your rights and responsibilities as a financial aid recipient. Financial aid is intended to be used to pay educational expenses.
  • You will have 15 days to accept/decline your awards. Failure to respond will result in cancellation of your awards.

Step 5: Complete additional online requirements for your student loan

If you are offered a student loan, you must complete additional requirements to receive the loan. You are required to:

  1. Complete an online entrance counseling at
  2. Complete an online Master Promissory Note committing student to repay the loan. Complete the promissory note online at

Step 6: Your refund will be sent to you

Prior to the first day of the semester, financial aid refunds (minus registration and housing fees) are processed by Student Financial Services for students who have completed steps 1-5 above. Students receive their refund by Direct Deposit. Information on setting up Direct Deposit can be found here.

Five common mistakes to avoid
  1. Listing the incorrect Social Security Number or driver's license number: Triple-check the numbers and have someone else check for accuracy, too.
  2. Listing adjusted gross income as equal to taxes paid: Adjusted gross income will be a larger amount than taxes paid.
  3. Listing parent or student's marital status incorrectly: Provide the marital status of the parent with whom the student resides. If the parent is remarried, provide the step-parent's information as well.
  4. Leaving the question about drug-related offenses blank: If the student is unsure about this answer, check before submitting the FAFSA. A conviction doesn't always disqualify students from receiving aid. Do not leave this field blank!
  5. Missing parent's and/or student's signature: When filing the FAFSA electronically, be sure to sign using the FSA ID and password. This will serve as the student's and parent's electronic signature.
Am I eligible?

To be eligible for federal financial aid, students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be registered with Selective Service (if required)
  • Be admitted to the university, seeking a degree or teaching certificate or approved certificate
  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal educational loan
  • Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6 units undergraduate/credential; 4 units master's)
  • Not be convicted of any illegal drug offense or be incarcerated

Students are not eligible for financial aid if they:

  • Hold an "F" or "J" visa
  • Hold an I-688A, I-688B, or I-797 visa
  • Are admitted to the university as Unclassified
  • Are enrolled through Open University
  • Are admitted and enrolled in a program that does not lead to a degree or certificate awarded by the institution and that prepare a student to receive a state certificate or credential for an education-related occupation other than a teacher
What happens if I am selected for verification?

If you are selected for verification, the Financial Aid Office will notify you via email and direct you to the Student Center at to review your To Do List

If you are selected for verification, you will be asked to submit additional documents needed to complete your financial aid file. Do not submit documents unless requested. Additional document(s) may include:

  • Student (& Spouse) IRS federal tax return transcript*
  • Parent(s) IRS federal tax return transcript* (if dependent)
  • Verification Form - parent and/or student
  • Selective Service Acknowledgement letter
  • Visa Verification for eligible non-citizens
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • A copy of your social security card
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization
  • Proof of orphan or ward of court status
  • A copy of your DD-214
  • Verification of legal separation (student's or parent's marital status)

*Request a IRS Federal Tax Return Transcript, free of charge, from the IRS by going online to

How do I check the status of my application?

There are four ways to check your status: