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When we receive your Free Application for Federal Student Aid from the federal processor, we evaluate your eligibility not only for federal aid programs but also for state aid. The Federal Processor does not award or deny funds; rather, they use a formula to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) based on your self-reported family resources, family size and number in college. This ensures that all students are treated consistently and fairly. The Financial Aid Office verifies your eligibility and creates an award offer based on federal and state regulations and institutional policy. The offer may include grants, loans and/or work-study depending on a variety of factors.

These are the steps we use to create your financial aid award offer:

Step 1: Assigning a Standard Budget

We assign a standard student budget for “at home” or “off campus” according to the housing plan you indicated on your FAFSA. If you indicate on your FAFSA that you plan to live on-campus, we will assign an at home or off campus budget until we receive confirmation from the Housing Office that you have signed a contract to live on campus. The standard budget includes basic costs of fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses.

If you left your housing plans blank, we assign an “at home” budget if your reported address is within reasonable commuting range or an “off campus” budget if your reported address is outside reasonable commuting range.


Step 2: Establishing Financial Need

Your financial need is determined by subtracting the EFC from your standard budget. The remainder equals "financial need".

(Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution) = FINANCIAL NEED


Step 3: Creating Your Award Offer

After your financial need is calculated, we consider you for all types of financial aid for which you qualify. We always consider you for grants first and loans last. This process is called "packaging".

Priority for programs with limited funding is given to students who have high financial need and who meet the March 2nd priority filing date. If you file your application by March 2nd we rank you with all other on-time filers according to your family contribution (lowest to highest) and award funds accordingly. If you file your application after March 2nd we award from funds that remain after priority applicants are awarded.

The steps in packaging financial aid at CSUF are described below. The amount of your financial need is reduced by the amount of your award at each step of the process. Your financial aid package may not exceed the amount of your total need. Therefore, if you receive additional aid from an outside source after a financial aid offer has been made to you, your financial aid package may be adjusted to include the amount of this aid. The steps proceed until your need is met, or until you have been awarded the maximum amount. An award is made from a particular aid program if you qualify for that type of aid and if funds are available.

  1. For undergraduates, the foundation of aid package is the Federal Pell Grant.
  2. Outside aid (such as Cal Grant A or B or scholarships) is applied next.
  3. State University Grant (SUG) is awarded.
  4. The Educational Opportunity Grant (EOP) is awarded to eligible EOP program participants.
  5. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is awarded to eligible undergraduates.
  6. Federal Perkins Loan is awarded.
  7. Federal Work-Study is awarded.
  8. If you have need remaining, your award letter will indicate the amount of your eligibility for a Federal Subsidized Stafford loan.

Non-need-based federal loans are available for students whose families may not be able to provide the expected contribution.

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