Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Frequently Asked Questions

Temporary Virtual Services

I have tasks to complete on my Financial Aid Account but am unable to obtain the necessary document due to a business being temporarily closed. What should I do?

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, my expenses have increased and/or my family’s income has decreased. Is there additional aid available to me for the fall term?

General Questions

What is CSU, Chico’s federal school code?

How do I apply for financial aid and scholarships?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does financial aid pay university tuition and fees?

When and how do I get my financial aid?

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

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

Verification Questions

Why do I need a Financial Aid Account?

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

Loan Questions

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

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

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

Scholarship Questions

When is the application period for CSU, Chico scholarships?

When will CSU, Chico scholarships be announced?

What other scholarships can I apply for?

How will I receive my external (private) scholarship?

Parent Questions

What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and how is unmet need calculated?

Can I talk to the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office about my student's financial aid?

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


General Questions

What is CSU, Chico’s federal school code?
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. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 for the following academic year.

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 CSU, Chico scholarships online. The application period for CSU, Chico 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 after October 1 for federal and state financial aid for the next academic year. The priority application date for financial aid is March 2 of each year. We will continue to accept applications after March 2 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.

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. Submit the FAFSA or CADAA by the March 2 priority filing date before the academic year you expect to enroll at CSU, Chico. However, you will need to be admitted and registered in classes before you actually receive financial aid. You can submit the FAFSA or CADAA after the priority deadline of March 2, however, less financial aid is available. 

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?
If your legal parents are separated or divorced, use the legal parent with whom you lived with more in the past 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent remarried, federal regulations require that you include the stepparent’s financial information on the application, and the parent and stepparent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA. If your legal parents are divorced or separated and are living together, you will need to provide information on both parents.

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 beginning in April. 

If you filed a FAFSA or CADAA for 2021-2022 but have not received a financial aid offer by April check your application to be sure you listed CSU, Chico as a college you may attend. 

You should also check for To Dos and Holds in your Student Center and complete any tasks assigned to you. Continuing students must have all To Dos and Holds completed and their files must be verified before their financial aid is offered to them. 

How does financial aid pay university tuition and fees?
View the tutorial Using Your Aid to Pay Charges for detailed information on how financial aid pays your university charges.

All financial aid is posted to the student's account. 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 28, 2021 for Fall Semester 2021
  • December 9, 2021 for Spring Semester 2022

If your pending financial aid for the semester is sufficient to cover your fees and charges, the balance due will automatically be deducted from your refund when your financial aid disburses. No payments are necessary as long as you have sufficient pending aid to cover your fall charges.

When and how do I get my financial aid?

Financial aid and scholarships are disbursed once a week on Thursdays throughout each semester. Below are the first possible disbursement dates of each semester: 

  • Fall 2021: First possible disbursement date is August 19
  • Spring 2022: First possible disbursement date is January 20

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 the parent checking account for the disbursement.

We strongly recommend that students arrange for e-Refund (direct deposit). Students who sign up for e-Refund receive their disbursements into a designated account on the day of disbursement. 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. It can take up to one week before you receive your check if it is sent through the mail.

Do I need to notify the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office if I’m not attending CSU, Chico 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 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?
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.

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 may be required to create an account if additional information is needed from you and 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 the files selected by the US Department of Education. We compare the information you reported on the FAFSA or CADAA with your and/or your parents' federal tax information, completed Verification Worksheet(s), and other documents as needed. If you have filed your 2019 IRS Federal Tax Return, you may be required to submit a Tax Return Transcript, a signed copy of the Federal Tax Return, or transfer tax information via the online Data Retrieval Tool onto the FAFSA. To request a transcript, please visit www.irs.gov/transcript(opens in new window). There is no fee for transcripts. Allow up to 2 weeks for delivery. Do not request delivery directly to our office. If requested, please upload a copy of the tax return or tax return transcript via your Financial Aid Account.

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. For additional information, also see Verification.

Loan Questions

I know I will need more money. Can I borrow more Federal Direct Stafford Loan?
Students may be eligible for additional Stafford loan if they have not met their annual and cumulative loan limits. Additional units may have been earned since the loan was packaged which may increase subsidized loan eligibility. For additional information, view Stafford Loan Limits. If you wish to apply for additional loan funds, submit an online Federal Direct Stafford 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(opens in new window)

I applied for financial aid. Why was I only offered a loan?
Loans are a form of financial aid. In fact, they make up the largest portion of the federal student aid program. You are eligible for a loan, although your EFC does not qualify you for grants, which are considered need-based aid. You do not have to accept the loan. See Loans for additional information.

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 2021 is September 2 and Spring 2022 is February 3.

Scholarship Questions

When is the application period for CSU, Chico scholarships?
The 2021-2022 California State University, Chico Scholarship Application must be submitted between January 2 and February 15, 2021. You must also complete a FAFSA by March 2 for consideration of need based scholarships. 

When will 2021-2022 CSU, Chico scholarships be announced?
Recipients of 2021-2022 CSU, Chico scholarships will be notified of their selection via email during summer 2021. If you are offered a CSU, Chico scholarship you will receive an email notification via your Wildcat email account. At that time, recipients can access their scholarship offer through the Financials section of their Student Center, and must 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 Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and how is unmet need calculated?
The FAFSA and CADAA collect household and student financial information and determines a dollar amount called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that is used to determine student aid eligibility. The formula used to calculate the EFC 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 Expected Family Contribution. The EFC 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 and Scholarship Office about their student's financial aid?
Federal law protects the privacy of student education records. The Financial Aid and 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 "Student 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.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Temporary Virtual Services

I have tasks to complete on my Financial Aid Account but am unable to obtain the necessary document due to a business being temporarily closed. What should I do?

If you are unable to obtain a required document for the 2021/22 aid year please contact our office so we can best advise you according to individual situation.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, my expenses have increased and/or my family’s income has decreased. Is there additional aid available to me for the fall term?

We have exceptional circumstances appeals available and we encourage you to read the following webpage for more information: https://www.csuchico.edu/fa/circumstances/appeals.shtml. 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/ .