Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
How to Apply For Financial Aid
To apply for aid, you'll first want to start by completing the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application. Please do not complete them both -- this can cause delays in processing your account. If you aren't sure which application to complete, the California Dream Act Application has some initial questions that will help you determine which application is best for your situation!
The FAFSA or California Dream Act Application are not your final steps -- We always encourage students to apply for all scholarships that they may be eligible for!
Every October 1st, the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available for the upcoming school year. It is important to know that you will need to complete the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application each year to receive federal aid. Only complete one financial aid application – Completing both the FAFSA and the California Dream Act Application can cause significant delays in receiving any financial aid. If you aren’t sure which application to complete, the initial questions on the California Dream Act will let you know which application is best for your situation.
To make sure that we receive your FAFSA, make sure you add our school code: 001147
While you can complete the FAFSA throughout the academic year, our priority deadline is March 2nd before the fall semester.
The FAFSA is based off income and federal tax information from two years prior. You’ll need other personal and income information as well.
Review a full list of what you may need.
The 2020-2021 FAFSA is for the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 semesters. Your (and your parents’) 2018 income and federal tax information is needed
The 2021-2022 FAFSA is for the Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022 semesters. Your (and your parents’) 2019 income and federal tax information is needed
The FAFSA can be completed in one of three ways:
- Online at FAFSA.ed.gov
- On your iOS or Android device, by downloading the myStudentAid app
- By completing the paper application; found here (under Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Information) and mailing it in to the U.S. Department of Education.
NOTE: The fastest, and most recommended way to complete your FAFSA is by completing it online or through the app on your phone. Mailing the paper FAFSA can cause significant delays in processing.
Every October 1st, the new California Dream Act Application will be available for the upcoming school year. It is important to know that you will need to complete the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application each year to receive federal aid. Only complete one financial aid application – Completing both the FAFSA and the California Dream Act Application can cause significant delays in receiving any financial aid. If you aren’t sure which application to complete, the initial questions on the California Dream Act will let you know which application is best for your situation.
The California Dream Act Application has a deadline of March 2nd for the upcoming year. If you miss this deadline, you can still apply, but your eligibility may be limited.
You are eligible to complete the California Dream Act Application if you are undocumented, have a valid or expired DACA, are a U Visa holder, have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and meet the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540.
The California Dream Act Application can be completed online (this is recommended for faster processing!) or through the paper application.
Check out the California Student Aid Commission’s (CSAC) FAQ on the California Dream Act Application!
You’ll want to check with your high school counselor to ensure that your GPA was uploaded to CSAC by the March 2nd deadline!
Completing the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application isn’t the only way to get financial aid. Scholarships are a great option because you don’t have to pay them back! They do, however, require a little effort on your part in researching, finding, and applying for them. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Check out our Scholarships Page to complete the Fresno State Scholarship Application – It opens the October 1st prior to the upcoming fall semester and closes that following March 2nd. This application gives you the opportunity to apply for a ton of Fresno State Scholarships in just one application!
Keep in mind, a lot of scholarships also require the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application to be completed, so you’ll want to make sure you complete the application that your eligible for!
Tips for completing the FAFSA:
- Apply early. Seriously – Our priority application deadline is the March 2nd before the Fall semester. We have additional financial aid opportunities for early applicants!
- If you (and/or your parents) are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, do it! It pulls your federal tax information directly from the IRS, helping complete the FAFSA faster and reduces your chances of being selected for verification
- Make sure you answer the questions about your housing plans accurately – Will you live on campus? Off campus, but with a parent? Off campus, not with a parent? These are important questions in determining financial aid!
- Use your legal name and make sure your social security number is correct! Errors in your name and/or social security number can cause issues all along the way. They have to match national databases, including the social security database, and failure to do so can cause rejects in your application. If that doesn’t cause an issue, it can cause issues linking to your account here at Fresno State.
- Complete your FAFSA accurately the first time. Going back and making changes to your FAFSA can cause delays in processing.
- Make sure that we have your social security number on file. If we don’t have your social security number on file here at Fresno State, we can’t link your FAFSA to your account and process.
- If your FAFSA is rejected by the U.S. Department of Education, resolve it as quickly as possible – We can’t process until we receive an approved FAFSA.
After Completing your FAFSA…
- It’s a good idea to request your (and your parents’) federal tax return transcript from the IRS, just in case it is needed. You can find instructions on how to do this here.
- Keep an eye on your my.FresnoState.edu account and Student Center. If you have items on your To Do List, you’ll want to take care of them as soon as possible – they can impact your financial aid processing and disbursement!
- Apply for Scholarships! Scholarships don’t have to be paid back, and a little bit of research can go a long way! Check out our Scholarships page, search for private and national scholarship opportunities, but remember, you shouldn’t have to pay money to receive scholarships.
- Budget – Do you have enough money for college? Do you need to look at other aid opportunities? If so, you can find more information on other loan options here.