Financial Aid Information for Future Students

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

The Financial Aid Office is committed to helping all students become Sacramento State graduates. This web page is meant to provide preliminary information and guidance for parents and students who are interested in attending or have applied to the University. It provides the resources available to help guide you through the financial aid process, including what you need to know and do before you attend Sacramento State.

Federal and state financial aid programs require you and/or your family to contribute toward college expenses, and financial aid helps narrow the gap between your resources and your costs. This page addresses resources and costs to help you.

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Applying for Aid

"Financial aid" refers to aid programs such as grants, federal work study, scholarships, and student/parent loans. These programs are designed to help students cover the costs of higher education. They are available to help fund your education if you apply and qualify.

Applying for financial aid is a free and easy process.  Both undergraduate and graduate students may apply for the following:

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline of March 2. 
  • The Dream Act application by the priority deadline of March 2, if you are an AB 540 student.
  • Scholarships! Sacramento State offers an array of institutional, departmental and community scholarships. Check out the Scholarships page.

Estimated Cost of Attendance

The Financial Aid Office establishes a Cost of Attendance (COA) for each student applicant.   The COA generally incorporates two types of costs associated with going to college: direct costs and indirect costs.

  • Direct costs are the kinds of costs you can expect to pay directly to the University, such as tuition fees and housing costs, if living on campus.
  • Indirect costs include living expenses such as housing (off campus or with parent), food, transportation, personal expenses, and books and supplies. Your individual circumstances (costs), discretionary expenses, or spending styles may not be the same as the COA.


2014-2015 Academic Year

Allowance          With Parents        On-Campus  Off-Campus        
Food & Housing $4,600 $11,494
Transportation $1,134 $864 $1,278
Miscellaneous Personal $1,366 $1,366 $1,366
TOTAL $15,494 $23,324 $22,532
Tuition Fees $6,648 $6,648 $6,648
Food & Housing $12,700
Books & Supplies $1,746 $1,746 $1,746

Sacramento State makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum. Tuition fees listed in posted schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. Therefore, the CSU must reserve the right, even after initial tuition fee payments are made, to increase or modify any listed tuition fees, without notice, until the date when instruction for a particular semester has begun. All CSU listed tuition fees should be regarded as estimates that are subject to change upon approval by the Board of Trustees.


Note: The cost associated with all items that are italicized and underlined will depend on choices you make.

  • Tuition fees are set by the University. In some cases, they may vary based on your academic program and the number of credit hours you take each term.
  • Food and housing costs are determined by the housing choice you make.  If you live and eat your meals on campus, the college bills you for these expenses. The charges vary depending on the room and meal plan you choose. If you plan to live at home or off campus, the expense is, an estimate these expenses.
  • Books & Supplies costs are associated with your course and study materials. You can sometimes choose to buy new or used textbooks, or even rent textbooks.
  • Transportation costs will vary, depending on how you choose to get to and from campus. Whether you live on campus or commute from home, there are costs associated with how you get to and from your college — by bus, train, plane, car, bike or whatever your mode of travel.
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses: You should consider and estimate laundry costs, cell phone service, cable television, disability and medical-related costs.

Note: Tuition and fees can change, and the actual costs will be finalized once the state budget is approved. Non-resident students add $372 per unit for non-resident enrollment fees. Budget figures are for estimating purposes only and are subject to change without notice.  

For additional estimated Costs of Attendance for other degree programs, click here.


Net Price Calculator

This calculator is intended to assist undergraduate students in estimating their eligibility for need-based financial aid at Sacramento State.  After you enter your information, you can view an "Estimated Award" reflecting the aid package you might receive at Sacramento State. The calculator is intended as a tool and is not an actual offer. For best results, enter your complete and accurate information. Remember, this tool does not calculate an actual financial aid offer. The Financial Aid Office will determine your financial aid eligibility after it has received and verified the information you provided on the FAFSA or Dream Act application, which are the actual financial aid applications.  To calculate an estimate of your Net Price, go to CSU Net Price Calculator.


Six Steps to Receiving Aid

1. How to Apply

Request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to electronically sign your FAFSA. If you are a dependent student, a parent will need a PIN as well, in order to sign the FAFSA. Every Jan. 1, the FAFSA becomes available for you to apply. If you haven't already qualified for a Cal Grant, submit the GPA Verification by the March 2 deadline. Go to your previous college or high school to have them complete the form until you have completed 24 units at Sacramento State.

Dream Act Applicants: In early January, AB540 students can submit the Dream Act application. During the application process, you and your parent (if dependent) will be given a PIN to sign the application. You must also submit the Non-SSN Cal Grant GPA Verification form to CSAC by the March 2 deadline.

2. Submit Documents

Any documents required to complete your Sacramento State financial aid file will be posted to your "My Sac State" To Do list. Monitor your My Sac State Student Center often. Processing time is generally about six to eight weeks. Make sure to submit your documents by June 1. This priority deadline ensures your fall awards will pay before the start of the fall term.

3. Determining Eligibility

The calculation used to determine your financial aid eligibility depends on your Estimated Cost of Attendance (COA), your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and any other financial assistance you may receive for your educational expenses. The Financial Aid Office must review your FAFSA or Dream Ac application and supporting documentation to determine your financial aid need. Need is defined as the COA minus your EFC.

Cost of Attendance - EFC = Financial Aid Need

Your awards, including student and/or parent loans, will never be more than the COA.

4. Award Notification

Once your financial aid file is complete, you will receive an award notification via your Saclink email, directing you to your My Sac State Student Center to accept or decline your awards. The Financial Aid Office does not provide estimated award notifications.

5. Financial Aid Holds

Financial aid holds will be listed on the Hold section of your My Sac State Student Center account. Some aid programs require additional steps be taken before a disbursement is authorized. Read the Hold message description for additional information and take necessary action.  Financial aid holds do not prevent you from registering.

6. Disbursement of Aid

Disbursement of financial aid occurs once a week throughout the term, unless there is a holiday. Disbursements begin no earlier than 10 days prior to the first day of instruction for each term. Once financial aid is disbursed, it is applied to any outstanding university charges on your student account. If there are any remaining funds, then you will be issued a refund that you may use for other educational expenses (e.g., books, parking permits).

For more specific information about the Six Step Financial Aid Process, click here.


Types of Aid

Grants are provided by the federal government, the state government, or the University system (the CSU). They do not need to be paid back by students, but students must maintain eligibility. For more information on the grant programs offered, click here.

Student loans are provided by the federal government, accrue interest at a generally low rate, and must be paid back. There are several types of loans: some that students can borrow, some that parents can borrow, and other private loans that may require students to obtain a co-signer. Each type of loan has different interest and repayment requirements, so it is important to review student loan information carefully before accepting the funds.  For more information on the types of loans offered, loan forgiveness programs and repayment options, click here.

Federal Work Study
Federal Work-Study is a special type of student employment at Sacramento State that helps eligible students earn funds for their educational expenses while getting worthwhile job experience. In addition to Work-Study, there are many other types of student employment on and off campus that give students the opportunity to earn money and gain job skills.  For more information on our Work Study program, click here.

Scholarships are provided by a variety of sources including charitable organizations, corporations, businesses, and individual donors. Scholarships do not need to be paid back by students, but students usually need to meet and maintain special eligibility requirements. The Financial Aid Office processes three types of scholarships: institutional, departmental and community. To search and apply for scholarships, click here.


Qualifying for Aid

Undergraduate & Graduate Students
Your eligibility for federal and state financial aid is determined by information provided on the FAFSA or Dream Act Application. Financial aid awards are based on your eligibility and financial need, and are offered based on full-time status. The number of units in which you are actually enrolled decides the actual amount of your financial aid disbursement.

At the University Census date, financial aid awards are revised to match eligibility based on the actual number of units in which students are officially enrolled. Open University units, all classes taken for audit and excess repeats do NOT qualify for financial aid. Awards may be reduced for students enrolled in fewer than full-time units.

If you have obtained a bachelor's degree, you are considered a post-baccalaureate student for enrollment purposes. Post-baccalaureate students admitted as 2nd Bachelors and Credential students are considered undergraduates for financial aid depending on your program. For specific award eligibility, refer to the Award Notice Guide.


Tips for Success

  1. Apply Early
  2. Apply online
  3. Use the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  4. Avoid Common Errors

Mistakes can delay your financial aid application and limit the amount of aid you are eligible to receive. To avoid errors, carefully read all of the questions on the financial aid application. Some of the most common  errors are:

  • Leaving blank fields: Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and an application rejection. Enter a '0' or 'not applicable' instead of leaving a blank.
  • Using commas or decimal points in numeric fields: Always round to the nearest dollar.
  • Listing an incorrect Social Security Number or driver’s license number: Double-check and triple-check these entries to ensure accuracy. If your parents do not have Social Security Numbers, list 000-00-0000. Do not make up a number or include a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).
  • Failing to use your legal name: Your name must be listed on your FAFSA as it appears on your Social Security card. Don’t enter nicknames or other variations on your name.
  • Entering the wrong federal income tax paid amount: This amount is on your income tax return forms, not your W2(s). If you haven’t filed your taxes, you can estimate this amount using previous tax year information and correct the amounts later on the corrections page of the FAFSA website.
  • Listing Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as equal to total income from working: AGI and total income from working are not necessarily the same. In most cases, the AGI is larger than the total income from working.
  • Incorrectly tax filing-status: If there is an error in the head of household filing status, the school will need an amended tax return to be filed with the IRS before paying out aid awards.
  • Listing your marital status incorrectly: The Department of Education wants to know your marital status on the day you sign the FAFSA.
  • Listing parent marital status incorrectly: If your custodial parent has remarried, you'll need the stepparent's information as well.
  • Failure to report unborn children: If you have a child that will be born before or during the award year and you will provide more than half of his or her support during the academic year, count that child as a member of the household.
  • Failing to include yourself in the household size: The student completing the FAFSA must include himself or herself as a member of the household attending college during the award year.
  • Failing to register with Selective Service: If you are a male, aged 18 to 26, you must register with Selective Service. Failure to willfully and knowingly register with Selective Service will make you ineligible for federal student aid.  You can register at www.sss.gov.
  • Forgetting to  list the college: Obtain the Federal School Code for the college(s) you plan to attend and list it along with any other schools to which you’ve have applied to.  Sacramento States Federal School Code is 001150.
  • Forgetting to sign and date the application: If you're filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign it. If you're filing online, be sure to obtain your personal identification number (PIN) for both you and your parents on the Federal Student Aid PIN website. The PIN is your electronic signature. 


Rev. 4/22/2014