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.


There are three types of 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.

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

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

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 our 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, number of family members, 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 financial aid application is called the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)" and is available in high schools and college financial aid offices beginning in December. Be sure to designate San Francisco State University as one of the institutions to receive a copy of the report. Applicants should complete, sign, and submit the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. New students are strongly encouraged to apply by March 2 in order to be considered for as many types of grant aid as possible. However, applications for financial aid are accepted throughout the academic year since some funds continue to be available.

Students applying to SFSU for financial aid will be asked to turn in documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid in support of their application, such as copies of tax returns, verification of untaxed income, and financial aid transcripts from all colleges attended since high school.


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 refund on any previous federal grant; must be in good standing on previous student loans; and must have a social security number. To receive state aid, a student must be a resident of California. Federal citizenship criteria is not a factor in determining eligibility for state aid.


To continue to receive financial aid at SFSU, students must complete in a semester the number of units required for the aid that they claimed. They must maintain a 2.0 minimum grade point average. Undergraduate students may continue to receive aid until they have completed 155 units; graduate students may continue to receive aid until they have completed 73 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 1993-94 are detailed below.

Student Expenses for Nine Months—1993-94
For Students Enrolled in Seven or More Units

							At Home		On- or Off-Campus
with Parents Housing

Resident Fees (non-resident students pay 
$246 per academic unit plus resident fees) $1,982 $1,982
Meals and Housing 1,998 6,820
Books and Supplies 612 612
Personal Expenses 1,454 1,728
Transportation 576 576
Total Expenses $6,622 $11,718

Bulletin 1994-96 Table of Contents, SFSU Home Page

last modified January 10, 1995

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