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California State University, Long Beach

Seven Steps to Receiving Financial Aid

There are seven basic steps in the process to receive financial aid – and it all starts with completing the appropriate financial aid application (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Federal – aid eligible students; the California Dream Act Application for students with an approved AB540 waiver, who do not meet eligibility for Federal Student Aid.)

PLEASE NOTE: Students who received a Social Security Number through the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival (DACA), and who qualify for AB540, should complete the CA Dream Act Application in order to be considered for state financial aid, as they are NOT Eligible for Federal Student Aid.

Step 1: Complete the Appropriate Financial Aid Application (FAFSA or California Dream Act Application)

The CSULB School Code is 001139

The appropriate financial aid application must be completed in order for a student to be considered for financial aid. The application must be completed each year, and can be submitted online.

Income figures may be estimated; do NOT wait until a tax return is filed.

Step 2: Submit your application by the March 2 priority filing deadline

Students who file during this time period and who demonstrate the highest need will be given priority consideration for financial aid funding. Those students who submit their applications after March 2 will have their awards based on the remaining funds available.

California residents applying for a Cal Grant must submit a GPA Verification Form as well as the appropriate financial aid application by the March 2 deadline. GPA Verification Forms are available from the student's high school counselor or online at the California Student Aid Commision’s website.

Step 3: Make any necessary corrections to the Student Aid Report (SAR)

Once you have filed your application, your information will be processed by the appropriate agency (U.S. Department of Education OR California Student Aid Commission), and a Student Aid Report (SAR) will be generated – typically within one week of your online application having been submitted. The SAR is a summary of the information you entered on the application; be sure to review the SAR for any errors. You can make any necessary corrections online via the application website (FAFSA or California Dream Act Application). If no corrections are needed, keep a printed copy of your SAR for reference.

Step 4: Submit any additional documentation requested

Approximately two (2) weeks after processing your application, the appropriate agency (U.S. Department of Education or California Student Aid Commission) will electronically transmit the information to CSULB. We will then review the data to determine if any additional documents (i.e., tax returns or other eligibility documentation) are needed. This review is undertaken to ensure the accuracy of the information reported.

Please do NOT send information or documents that are not requested.

Additional documents will be requested by email; you must follow the instructions in the email in order to obtain any necessary forms (all forms are barcoded specific to each student; these forms are not available in the financial aid office) .

After you have submitted any requested additional documentation, your information will be reviewed for accuracy and completeness.

If there is no request for additional documents within 3-4 weeks after receiving the SAR, logon to MyCSULB to check the status of your file.

Step 5: Review your Financial Aid Award Notice

Once the Office of Financial Aid has completed the review of information and any requested documents, an award notification will be prepared. Award notifications are sent electronically to the email address on file with CSULB. Award notifications are only prepared for two populations of students:

  • Admitted Students: Notifications are sent out beginning in late-March.
  • Continuing (Currently Enrolled) Students: Notifications are sent out in mid-June – after SAP has been evaluated.

Step 6: Accept/Decline your awards

All financial aid awards are accepted online at MyCSULB. Be sure to review the information on how to understand your Financial Aid offer, as well as the steps to accept your awards via MyCSULB. To receive your funds, you must accept your award(s), complete required steps for Direct Stafford Loans (if applicable), and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

To ensure receipt of all funds offered, please read and respond promptly to the financial aid award notification.

Information about your application status, eligibility, and awards can be accessed at any time through MyCSULB.

Step 7: Enroll in Sufficient Units

Most financial aid awards require enrollment of at least half-time status which is:

  • 6 units for undergraduates and credential students
  • 5 units for master’s or doctoral degree students

If you are not enrolled at least half-time, your financial aid funds will NOT be released.

In addition to the half-time enrollment requirement, some aid programs may be impacted by the number of units you are actually enrolled in (financial aid awards are based on anticipated enrollment at full-time status – which is 12 units for undergraduates). 

For undergraduates - if you are enrolled in less than 12 units, the dollar amount of certain aid programs will be adjusted when funds are released. 

Be sure to review our information on Enrollment Requirements and Aid Eligibility, which includes a breakdown by enrollment status of how different awards may be impacted.