Grants are free money from the federal or state government. Unlike loans they don't have to be repaid unless you don't attend classes (100% repayment) or withdraw before 60% of the semester.
Qualifications: Eligibility is based on need. To establish need and apply for all grant programs, complete a FAFSA (see "How the Process Works"). You must be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident or on a special visa such as parolee. You must have a high school diploma (including passing the CAHSEE if it's in California) or GED or its recognized equivalent. You must make satisfactory academic progress to continue to receive grants.
You are ineligible if you have a bachelor's degree from the U.S. or another country. You're already receiving a grant from another school at the same time.
Federal Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant is from the U.S. government. It's the primary form of financial aid and often what people mean when they refer to "financial aid". There is a limit of six years of receiving the Pell Grant full time. This is prorated for part time students. You don't start over if you finish at LBCC and transfer to a university. It includes awards at a community college and university.
The amount a student receives is based on the effective family contribution (EFC) calculated by the government from your FAFSA, the number of units in which you enroll, and the cost of education at the school. Because that includes indirect costs such as housing and transportation awards will be generally the same at all schools. If you already know your EFC see the Pell grant calculator in "Tools for Students".
Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant
The Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant is also from the U.S. government. Students must be eligible for the Pell Grant to be eligible. It is for the "neediest" students which at LBCC means it is usually awarded to those with a 0 EFC. Funds are limited so it is also awarded based on earliest application date until all funds have been awarded. You must be enrolled for at least 6 units to receive the grant. It is a much smaller grant than the Pell Grant.
Cal Grants are from the State of California. Even though it is a state grant the application used is the FAFSA. The results are sent to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) if a California school is listed. CSAC determines eligibility and notifies the schools.
You must apply before March 2 to be considered for the Cal Grant entitlement program. Community college students can apply up to September 2 to be considered for the competitive grant program.
There are three Cal Grants. Cal Grant A is for university students. It's held on reserve for community college students. Cal Grant B is for community college students. Cal Grant C is for students enrolled in a vocational program including those offered by LBCC. Each one can be received up to 4 years.
See the CSAC web site (www.csac.ca.gov - Financial Aid Programs) for more information on this program including how they determine eligibility.
The California Dream Act Application for Cal Grant will be available January 1, 2013 for the 2013/14 school year. See the California Dream Act of 2011 (http://www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act.asp) for more information.