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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
February 24, 2021

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, High School Principals, and High School Counselors:

Urgent Financial Aid Request

The California Department of Education and the California Student Aid Commission need you to urge all California high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). Filing financial aid applications is the first step toward college success and helps eligible students qualify for federal, state, and campus-based aid as well as some private scholarships.

The deadline is March 2 for all four-year institution-bound students. They are required to meet this deadline to receive a Cal Grant High School Entitlement award. Even though students planning to attend a community college have an opportunity to qualify for a competitive award at the later deadline (September 2), they are encouraged to apply now. Our data show that this year’s FAFSA/CADAA applications are down significantly year-over-year for first-time college students. Now more than ever, we need your help to let students know that financial aid is available even in the pandemic.

California is experiencing an 11 percent decrease in FAFSA forms filed by high school seniors when compared to last year at the same time, and this mirrors a trend we are seeing nationwide. This means that more high school seniors across California could miss the opportunity to take advantage of federal grant, work-study, and loan dollars to continue their learning.

Please urge each of your high schools to remind students to submit a FAFSA or CADAA before the deadline passes. Students should apply at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa for the FAFSA or at https://www.csac.ca.gov/california-dream-act for the California Dream Act Application.

Please help us help students who dream of pursuing higher education take that first step of completing financial aid applications by reminding them of this important upcoming deadline. The Commission is also offering free Statewide Cash for College events to help students and families complete the applications and answer any questions. Students can register for free assistance at the Cash for College webinars available at https://www.csac.ca.gov/cash-college.

If you have any questions or if students or their parents need any additional information, please contact the California Student Aid Commission at 888-294-0153 or the California Department of Education College Preparation and Postsecondary Programs Office, Career and College Transition Division, at 916-323-6398.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

Marlene L. Garcia
Executive Director
California Student Aid Commission

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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