It costs money to be a student. Aside from the tuition and fees that a student must pay to the university, a student must buy books and supplies, pay for transportation to and from school, and cover personal expenses such as meals and housing. Many students and their families are unable to come up with the money needed to cover all of these expenses. To help these students and their families supplement their own resources, financial aid is available.

Financial need is the determining factor and is the crucial criterion for most types of aid. (There are some loan programs for students and parents of students for which need is not a criterion. See the following section on Program Highlights for the various options available. Some scholarships do not include need as a criterion.)

So what is need? Need is the difference between what it costs to go to college and what the student and family can afford to contribute towards those costs.

The basic financial aid formula:

   What It Costs to Attend
-  What the Student and Family Can Pay
=  Financial Need

Students are generally eligible to receive assistance through financial aid in the amount up to their financial need.

Types of Financial Aid

Grants and Scholarships. Grants and scholarships are awards of money that do not have to be paid back. Grants are usually awarded to students with need. Scholarships have varying criteria which may or may not include financial need. Often scholarships are rewards for academic achievement.

Work-Study. The Work-Study program enables students to earn money from part-time jobs on campus and off campus at approved non-profit organizations.

Loans. Loans are funds that have to be paid back, usually after a student has graduated or left school. Students are asked to complete entrance and exit interview requirements if they choose to borrow money through the student loan programs.

The Office of Student Financial Aid may award a student a combination of grants, loans, and work in order to meet the student's need. At SFSU, financial aid funds are provided by the federal government and the State of California. The university scholarships are generally gifts from individuals and organizations.


In order to determine what the student and family can pay towards the student's educational expenses, the student must apply for financial aid. A nationally established formula computes the family's contribution using information regarding the family's income, assets, and number of family members in college. For a student who is considered to be dependent, the student and the parents complete the application. For students considered to be independent, the student and spouse (if married) complete the application.

The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the Federal Student Aid Programs beginning in January and by the priority date of March 2nd prior to the upcoming academic year. The FAFSA is available over the Internet at and from high schools and college financial aid offices. In order for SFSU to receive an electronic copy of the FAFSA, the student must include "San Francisco State University" and the code number "001154" on the college release section of the FAFSA.

About four weeks after the student submits the FAFSA, the student will receive a document called the Student Aid Report, and SFSU will receive the electronic copy of the FAFSA. SFSU will notify the student to submit verification documents if necessary. Verification documents may include the IRS tax forms and documentation of household size.

The FAFSA is the basic application for all types of aid. Some grants, fellowships, and scholarships require an additional application and have different deadlines. See the Program Highlights section below for details.


To receive federal student aid, a student must be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the U.S.; must be enrolled in an academic program leading to a degree or certificate; must not owe a repayment on any previous federal and/or state grant; must be in good standing on previous student loans; and must have a social security number. Additionally, to receive state aid, a student must be a resident of California.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To continue to receive financial aid at SF State, students must complete in a semester the number of units required for the aid that they received. They must remain in good academic standing with the University. Graduate students are eligible to receive aid only until they earn their degree or earn 75 semester units.


Each year the Office of Student Financial Aid establishes standard budgets to reflect the expenses for students attending SFSU for the nine-month academic year. The budgets differ for students living with their parents and for students living in campus housing or in off-campus housing. The standard budgets used for 2010-2011 are detailed below (undergraduates only). Non-resident students pay $372 per academic unit plus resident fees.

Student Expenses for Nine Months—2010-11
For Undergraduate Students Enrolled in Seven or More Units

At Home with Parents On- or
Resident Fees $4,810 $4,810
Meals and Housing 4,392 12,414
Books and Supplies 1,744 1,744
Personal Expenses 3,120 3,120
Transportation 1,224 1,224
Total Expenses $15,290 $23,312


The Federal Pell Grant Program is a federal aid program for undergraduate students and students in teaching credential programs with exceptional need. Grants range from $330 to $2,775 per semester. Enrollment requirement: full time = 12 units; three-quarter time = 9-11 units; half time = 6-8 units. Award is prorated depending upon enrollment.

The Federal Academic Competitiveness Grant is a federal aid program for first and second year undergraduate students who have completed a rigorous high school program of study. Recipients must be regularly admitted, enrolled at least half-time, and eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. Second year students must have a 3.0 GPA.

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant is a federal aid program for high achieving third and fourth year students majoring in physical, life, or computer science, engineering, mathematics, technology, or a critical foreign language. Recipients must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, enrolled at least half-time in one of the designated majors, and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is a federal program which provides aid to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. Students must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. Annual awards at SF State range from $100 to $750.

The State University Grant is a grant for students who are California residents, who pay state resident fees, and who have exceptional financial need. This grant is awarded to undergraduates and graduates in amounts based on the amount of resident fees they are required to pay. Annual awards for 2010-11 range from $2,334 to $4,962.

The Educational Opportunity Program Grant (EOP) is a grant provided by the State of California for undergraduate students admitted to the university through the Educational Opportunity Program. EOP students must have financial need and must be enrolled full time to receive the grant. Awards range from $100 to $1,000 for the academic year, depending on the availability of funds and the need of the students.

The California Student Aid Commission awards grants to students who are California residents. For new applicants, the deadline to apply for the different programs is March 2nd prior to the upcoming academic year (for example, for the 2010-11 academic year, the deadline is March 2, 2010). In addition to the FAFSA, a Grade Point Average (GPA) Verification form must be submitted to the commission by the March 2nd deadline. More information about the grants discussed below can be provided by high school counselors, financial aid offices, and the California Student Aid Commission at or (888) 224-7268.

Presidential Scholars Program. San Francisco State University is pleased to offer this special program for a select group of newly admitted freshmen each Fall. This is the most distinguished academic award the university can bestow on an entering undergraduate student. Selection as a Scholar is determined on academic merit (minimum unweighted GPA of 3.80) and carries a renewable scholarship that is equivalent to a full year of university academic fees (currently $4,810 per year).

Scholars become part of a small, close-knit group at San Francisco State. Special seminars, mentoring, and chances to take some classes as a group make the Scholars program an academic enrichment opportunity that helps develop the student's intellectual talents to the fullest. This program offers the personal attention that is expected only in a small college together with the range of academic programs, academic facilities, and faculty expertise that only a major university can offer.

University Administered Scholarships are awarded to students based on academic achievement and financial need. A separate application is required for scholarships directly administered through the Office of Student Financial Aid. Some academic departments on campus also have university scholarships. Students should check with the college or department office about other scholarship opportunities.

Outside Scholarships. The Office of Student Financial Aid has information on some outside scholarships. Students are encouraged to contact organizations such as Marin Educational Foundation, parent-teacher groups, community service organizations, employers, etc. for scholarship information. Reference desks in university and public libraries also provide scholarship resource materials.

The Federal Work-Study Program provides employment opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students with financial need. Work-Study positions are available both on-campus and off-campus with certified non-profit agencies. Students may work a maximum of twenty hours per week. The salary scale ranges from $8.00 to $17.26 per hour. A Work-Study award is not a cash award like a loan or a grant. To use a Work-Study award, a student must find a Work-Study job with a certified Work-Study employer; then the student will receive a monthly paycheck. It is recommended that students seek employment as early as possible because jobs are limited and a Work-Study award is not a guarantee of employment.

The Federal Perkins Loan is a federal program providing long-term, low interest loans to students who are enrolled full time. Awards at SFSU depend upon the availability of funds and generally range from $300 to $2,000 per academic year. Interest of 5% begins nine months from the date the borrower is no longer enrolled at least half time. Repayment, at a minimum rate of $90 quarterly, begins three months after interest starts to accrue. Information regarding deferments, cancellations, and repayment provisions is provided on the loan promissory note. A borrower may have all or part of his or her loan (including interest) canceled for engaging in teaching, public service, service in the Peace Corps or Americorps*VISTA, or service in the military An entrance interview is required for all first-time borrowers at SF State.

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSL) has two components--the subsidized loan and the unsubsidized loan. The Subsidized Loan is available to students who have financial aid eligibility. The interest is paid by the federal government while the student is in school. The Unsubsidized Loan is available to students who have limited or no financial aid eligibility or who need to borrow an additional amount of loan. The interest on an unsubsidized loan must be paid by the student while enrolled in school, and during any grace or in-school deferment periods. A student may choose to have the interest deferred, which adds the deferred interest to the principle. This is called capitalization. Having the interest capitalized will mean larger monthly payments when the student begins repayment. An entrance interview is required for all first-time borrowers. Exit counseling is required at the time of graduation or separation from the University.

The FDSL maximums vary depending on the student's class level and dependency status.


Dependent Students

Academic Year Maximum FDSL Sub. & Unsub.
Freshmen $5,500
Sophomore 6,500
Junior, Senior 7,000

Independent Students

Academic Year Maximum FDSL Sub. & Unsub.
Freshmen $ 9,500
Sophomore 10,500
Junior, Senior 12,500
Credential 12,500
Classified Graduate 20,500

For all Federal Direct Student Loans, the interest rate is fixed at 6.0% for subsidized and 6.85% for unsubsidized.. An origination and an insurance fee totaling 0.5 percent will be deducted from the loan amount before the disbursement. For example, a $5,500 loan will produce $5,472 in revenue to the student.

Loan repayment begins at the end of a six-month period after the student leaves school or ceases to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis. If the student is enrolled less than half time, she/he is considered to be in grace period. Various loan repayment options are available. An entrance interview is required for all first-time borrowers.

Parent Loans (PLUS) provides loans through banks and other participating lending institutions for parents of dependent students. Financial need is not a factor in determining a parent's eligibility for this loan program. The interest rate is fixed at 8.5%. Interest begins to accrue when the loan is disbursed. Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is disbursed. The loan limit for Parent Loans is equal to the student's budget less financial aid awarded.

Graduate PLUS Loan provides loans through banks and other participating lending institutions for classified master's degree students. Financial need is not a factor in determining a student's eligibility for this loan program. The interest rate is fixed at 8.5% and begins to accrue when the loan is disbursed. Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is disbursed. The loan limit for the Graduate PLUS is equal to the student's budget less financial aid awarded.

Short-Term Loans are available for a maximum of $500 on a 30-day repayment basis. The purpose of the short-term loan is to help students with unanticipated expenses which are school-related. Students may pick up an application from the Bursar's Office.


Students should call, write, or visit the Office of Student Financial Aid--(415) 338-7000, e-mail: they have questions or for individual help. Counselors are available to assist students in person during office hours.

Office hours: Monday-Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Financial Aid Deadlines and Availability by Student Classification

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Last modified July 06, 2012 by