Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

School Code - FAFSA/CADAA

How do I apply

Able to for apply financial aid before admitted?

Financial aid application deadline

Who can receive financial aid  

Am I independent?

Parents are divorced or separated - whose information to use

AB-540

Able to for apply financial aid before admitted?

General Questions

Receiving my aid

How financial aid is determined

Using aid to pay tuition and fees

Haven't received financial aid offer yet

Expenses increased or income decreased - Appeal

Changing enrollment

Received other educational funding

Cost of Online Courses

Verification Questions

Financial Aid Account

Why is the financial aid office requesting documents

Loan Questions

Borrow more Federal Direct Loan

Why was I offered a loan

Alternative Loan

Scholarship Questions

Application dates - Chico State Wildcat Scholarships

When announced

Other scholarships

External (private) scholarship

Parent Questions

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)/unmet need

Getting information about my student's financial aid

Parents are divorced or separated - whose information to use

Parent Plus Federal Loan


Application Questions

What is Chico State’s school code for my FAFSA or CADAA?

001146

How do I apply for financial aid and scholarships?

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for federal and state aid, or need-based Wildcat Scholarships. 

Undocumented students who meet the non-resident exemption requirements under AB 540 should file a CADAA  (California Dream Act application). Eligible students will be considered for state administered financial aid, such as State University Grant, Cal Grant, and a loan. 

Apply for Chico State Wildcat scholarships online. The application period for Wildcat scholarships is January 2 through February 15 for the next academic year.

When do I apply for federal and state financial aid? Is there a deadline?

Complete the FAFSA or CADAA as soon as possible. The priority application date for financial aid for 2024-25 has been extended to May 2, 2024. We will continue to accept applications after the priority deadline and distribute awards throughout the academic year or semester, depending on your enrollment. Please keep in mind that some funds are limited, and are awarded to eligible students on a first-come first-serve basis.

Do I have to be a US citizen to receive financial aid?

You must be one of the following to receive federal and state financial aid:

  • US citizen
  • US national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island)
  • US permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card)

If you are not in one of these categories, you must have an Arrival–Departure Record (I-94) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) showing one of the following designations in order to be eligible for federal and state aid:

  • Refugee
  • Asylum Granted
  • Indefinite Parole and/or Humanitarian Parole
  • Cuban–Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
  • Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)

If you are classified as an  AB-540 student, you may be eligible for state financial aid. For more information, view AB 540 Dream Act.

If you have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence (I-171 or I-464), you are  NOT ELIGIBLE for federal and state financial aid.

If you are in the United States on an F1 or F2 student visa, or on a J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa only, you are not eligible for federal or state financial aid. Also, persons with G series visas (pertaining to international organizations) are  NOT ELIGIBLE for financial aid.

What if my parents don't claim me as a dependent on their tax return, am I independent?

No, according to US Department of Education guidelines, the following conditions do not qualify as criteria for independent status:

  • Parents refusing to contribute to the student's education
  • Parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or documents for verification
  • Parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency

There are other circumstances that qualify for independent status; you can find more information about dependent or independent student status.

If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial information should be used when I complete the FAFSA?

Starting in 2024-25 if your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent who provides the greater portion of your financial support, even if you do not live with them. If this parent is remarried when the FAFSA or CADAA is completed, answer the questions about that parent and the stepparent.

Can I get financial aid if I'm classified as an AB-540 student?

If you are classified as an AB-540 student, you may be eligible for state financial aid. For more information, view AB 540 Dream Act.

Do I need to be admitted before I apply for financial aid?

No, it is not necessary to be admitted before applying for financial aid. Submit the FAFSA or CADAA by the priority deadline filing date for the academic year you plan to enroll at Chico State. However, you will need to be admitted and registered in classes before you actually receive financial aid. Keep in mind that if you submit the FAFSA or CADAA after the priority deadline, there may be less financial aid available.

General Questions

How is Financial Aid Determined?

The basic financial aid formula is Cost of Attendance - Student Aid Index (SAI) = Financial Need

Student Aid Index (SAI): When your FAFSA or CADAA is processed, a formula is applied to the information you provided in order to determine your financial need. The formula includes the number in your household as well as student and parent financial information. The formula used to calculate SAI is established by law and represents a comparative measure of a family’s financial strength.

Cost of Attendance (COA): Your cost of attendance, or annual budget, is based on the estimated cost of registration fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses for a nine-month academic year (fall and spring semesters). The budget includes direct university charges (as tuition fees and on-campus room and board) and estimates of indirect expenses (transportation, books and supplies, miscellaneous living expenses and off–campus room and board).

Financial need is the difference between what it costs to attend Chico State (COA) and what you and your family are considered able to pay toward the costs (SAI). Students are usually eligible for financial aid equal to the amount of demonstrated financial need. Generally, the amount students receive in financial aid (including loans) cannot exceed the estimate of college costs.

For more information click on Understanding Your Offer.

My expenses have increased and/or my family’s income has decreased. Is there additional aid available to me?

We have exceptional circumstances appeals available and we encourage you to read our appeals webpage for more information. To apply for an exceptional circumstances appeal log on to your Financial Aid Account.

If you are in need of food, please visit the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry. The pantry will prepare to-go bags with food and/or hygiene products for you to pick up at the entrance of the pantry.

We also encourage you to apply for Cal Fresh benefits. For additional information or assistance completing an application for Cal Fresh visit: https://www.csuchico.edu/calfresh/ .

What if I haven’t received a Financial Aid Offer yet?

You must complete a FAFSA or CADAA for each academic year that you will need financial aid. Students are notified of financial aid offers by Wildcat email. Nationwide the FAFSA/CADAA and financial aid processes have had a major revamp for 2024-25. We are hoping to get financial aid offers out in April 2024, but due to the extensive changes offer letters may be delayed.

If you filed a FAFSA or CADAA for 2024-25 but have not received a financial aid offer by June check your application to be sure you listed Chico State as a college you may attend. If you still have questions, reach out to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office. 

How does financial aid pay university tuition and fees?

Financial aid recipients are required to pay the difference between all University Charges (including registration and tuition fees, on-campus housing and board plan) and pending financial aid. View your pending financial aid in the Financials section of your Student Center. Payment is due by the Registration & Tuition Fee Payment Deadline:

  • July 26, 2023 for Fall Semester 2023
  • December 7, 2023 for Spring Semester 2024

If you have enough pending financial aid to cover your fees and charges for the semester, the balance due will automatically be deducted from your refund when your financial aid disburses. You must accept aid for it to be pending. You do not need to make a payment as long as you have sufficient pending aid to cover your charges.

When and how do I get my financial aid?

Most funds are disbursed in one lump sum payment and the first possible disbursement of federal aid, state aid and scholarships is the Thursday prior to the first day of classes each semester: 

  • Fall 2023: First possible disbursement date is August 17
  • Spring 2024: First possible disbursement date is January 18

You must be enrolled in classes, all your Student Center "To Do List" items completed, and not have any holds for your financial aid funds to be disbursed. For Chico State scholarship funds to be disbursed, you must be enrolled full–time (12 units for undergraduate and credential students; 8 units for graduate students).

Tuition fees, housing charges, and other financial obligations you owe to the University are deducted from your award and any remaining aid is disbursed to you. Parent applications for PLUS loans may designate who receives any disbursement - the parent or the student. 

We strongly recommend students set up e-Refund (direct deposit) to receive their disbursements. Students who opt for e-Refund receive their disbursements directly into a designated account on the day of disbursement. You can enroll in e-Refund through the Financials section in your Student Center. If you do not choose e-Refund as your disbursement method, a check will be mailed when your disbursement is ready. Please note it can take up to one week to receive your check if it is sent through the mail.

Do I need to notify the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office if I’m not attending Chico State or changing my enrollment dates?

Yes. Please complete and submit a Financial Aid Update (see Forms & Applications)  to notify our office if your enrollment plans have changed, or if you are graduating at the end of the fall semester so that we can adjust your financial aid appropriately.

What if I'm receiving educational funding from a source other than financial aid?

Contact the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office to let us know. Federal regulations require that assistance from other sources be coordinated with financial aid. Your eligibility may be affected by external sources of assistance. Forms of aid such as private scholarships, fellowships, stipends, fee waivers, AmeriCorps grants, and third-party payments are reported to us when payment is received by the University and will be coordinated with your financial aid award. When the total of your financial aid and educational assistance from other sources exceeds the Cost of Attendance, it is considered an over-award and requires adjustment of your financial aid. Please be aware that our office does all it can to prevent over-awards because they can result in a student having to repay aid for which they are ineligible.

How much does it cost to enroll in online courses?

Regularly admitted, state support students, who wish to enroll in partial or fully online coursework would pay the standard tuition and registration fees. Most students would fall into this category.  See Tuition and Registration Fees(opens in new window) for more information. 

Students enrolled in a fully online, state support online degree completion program (see below) also pay standard tuition and registration fees.

Students enrolled in self-support, special session degree programs, pay a per unit fee that varies per program (see below)

Special Session Degree Programs:

Verification Questions

Why do I need to create a Financial Aid Account

The Financial Aid Account allows you to quickly complete your tasks by allowing you and your parent(s) to e-sign forms and upload documents via your electronic device. You will be directed to create an account if additional information is needed from you - instructions will be provided to you on your To Do List via your Student Center. Aid will not be disbursed until all your To Dos are completed and your file has been verified. If you or your parent experience issues e-signing a form, please contact our office at 530-898-6451 for assistance.

Why have you requested tax information and/or other documents from me?

We are required to verify certain information. Verification is like an audit, and information reported on the FAFSA or CADAA is compared with the student and/or parents’ tax information and other documents as needed. Watch for emails and return all requested items quickly, as financial aid will not be disbursed until verification is complete. If your file is selected for verification, you must complete the assigned tasks on your Financial Aid Account and Student Center To Do List before we can disburse aid to you. For the upcoming school year, please complete all required tasks by the June 1 priority deadline or as soon as possible to avoid disbursement delays.

Upload all requested items ASAP, as aid will be held until verification is complete. Please double check your documents for accuracy and completeness before you upload them. 

Loan Questions

I know I will need more money. Can I borrow more Federal Direct Loan?

You may be eligible for additional Federal Direct loan if you have not met your annual and cumulative loan limits. For additional information, view Loan Limits. To apply for additional loan funds, submit an online Federal Direct Loan application (see Forms & Applications). Graduate students pursuing a Master’s degree may request a Graduate PLUS Loan. The parent of a dependent student may request a parent loan by applying online at Federal Student Aid

I applied for financial aid. Why was I only offered a loan?

Loans are a type of financial aid that offers students low interest rate loans to help cover educational expenses. You are not required to accept the loan. If you need to borrow money, we do recommend these loans over private alternative loan options. You do not have to accept the full amount of your loans. If you do accept loans, accept subsidized loans first, if eligible, before accepting other loans  as this will save money. We strongly encourage you to only borrow as much as you need. 

I applied for an Alternative Loan. When will I get it?

We strongly encourage students to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for federal student aid prior to applying for an alternative loan. Alternative loans take up to eight weeks to process and disburse approximately four weeks after certification. The first possible alternative loan payment for Fall 2023 is August 31 and Spring 2024 is February 1.

Scholarship Questions

When is the application period for Chico State's Wildcat Scholarships?

The 2024-25 Wildcat Scholarship Application must be submitted between January 2 and February 15, 2024. 

When will 2024-25 Wildcat Scholarships be announced?

Recipients of 2024-25 Wildcat Scholarships will be notified of their selection via email during summer 2024. At that time, recipients can access their scholarship offer through the Financials section of their Student Center to accept or decline  their scholarship offer.

What other scholarships can I apply for?

See our webpage on External Scholarships.

How will I receive my external (private) scholarship?

The turnaround time for complete processing of external scholarships is two to three weeks after we receive the check in our office. Once entered into a student's award, the scholarship is considered pending aid. We do not enter a scholarship as pending aid based on an award letter without receiving the check. Pending aid defers charges until the first disbursement, after which disbursements occur weekly as files are completed. After charges are paid, any money remaining will be disbursed. Please also see our webpage on external scholarships for additional information.

Parent Questions

What is the Student Aid Index (SAI) and how is unmet need calculated?

The FAFSA and CADAA collect household and student financial information and determines a dollar amount called the Student Aid Index (SAI) that is used to determine student aid eligibility. The formula used to calculate the SAI is established by law and measures a family's comparative financial strength on the basis of income, assets, and family size.

The starting point for aid is always Financial Need, which will be different for each school because need is the difference between a college's Cost of Attendance and your Student Aid Index. The SAI also determines grant eligibility. For more information, see Understanding Your Award.

The offered award may not meet all unmet need. For additional aid, students may request additional loan funds which may not have been included in the initial offer. Additionally, parents may request a PLUS loan. For more information, see Loans.

Can parents talk to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office about their student's financial aid?

Federal law protects the privacy of student education records. The Financial Aid & Scholarship Office is prohibited from releasing or discussing specific financial aid information to any person other than the student, even to parents unless the student is under the age of 18. Students can provide authorization via their Student Center by selecting "Authorize to Release" under the "Records" section. This procedure assures compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)(opens in new window).

Can parents take out Federal loans for their student's education?

Yes, parents can apply for a Federal Direct Parent Loan for their Undergraduate student to help pay for the remaining cost of attending college.