Financial Aid

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FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a federal form for financial aid that is accepted by most schools. The information you provide will be used to figure the amount your family can afford to contribute toward your education (also known as your EFC: estimated family contribution).
There are many myths about the FAFSA that keep students from applying, such as:  
  • "I won't qualify because my parents make too much money" OR
  • "My grades aren't good enough to receive aid"
These are both false.  Do not miss your chance to receive aid because of inaccurate information.  Click HERE to read up on more "Myths About Financial Aid"
What will the FAFSA do for me?
  • Students who apply by March 2nd will receive TWO YEARS OF FREE TUITION at our local California Community Colleges (Los Rios Disctrict and Sierra College) via the Promise Program.
  • Applying for FAFSA might qualify you to receive thousands of dollars which can be applied to tuition, books, housing, and more! 
  • Most FAFSA awards are FREE money that does not need to be paid back. 
  • Most colleges and trade schools require students to apply for FAFSA in order to qualify for additional aid and scholarship opportunities through their institutions.
When to file: The FAFSA for college attendance beginning Fall of 2021 can be filed beginning on October 1, 2020, using your 2019 tax year information. 
Tip: Create your FSA IDs (Federal Student Aid Identifications) first. The student will need a FSA ID and one parent will need their own FSA ID. 

How to create a FSA ID

Tip: Final financial aid deadlines vary by college, but if you file your FAFSA by December you should be in no danger of missing a deadline. If you are unsure, check your college's website. Sooner is better!

How to Complete a FAFSA 


How to Complete some of the more tricky sections on the FAFSA

FAFSA Helpline: 800-433-3243
New FAFSA filing period: Oct. 1 - March 2 of Senior year
Note: March 2nd is the deadline for Cal Grant. You may still file a FAFSA after March 2nd, but you will not be eligible for the Cal Grant.


If you submit your FAFSA by March 2nd, you will be considered for Cal Grant.
If you plan to attend any type of college or trade school in the state of California, you might qualify to receive additional aid! 
A Cal Grant is money for college that does not need to be paid back! Cal Grants can be used at any University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) or California Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California. There are 3 types of Cal Grant Awards. Find out more here!

Follow these simple steps to apply for a Cal Grant.

Step 1: 
Complete the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application (for non-resident/undocumented students)
The FAFSA is your application for Cal Grant.

Step 2: 
Create your Webgrants 4 Students Account. 

Step 3:
Follow the Financial Aid Checklist to stay informed on the status of your aid.
Did you know: In addition to considering family income, your GPA will be considered. Your Cal Grant GPA will be uploaded to the California Student Aid Commission during fall semester of Senior year by the ORHS Registrar. This gpa is calculated differently than most gpa's you've seen, but should be close to what you normally know as your cumulative gpa. There is nothing you need to do, no paperwork to fill out.
Follow-Up: It is important for you monitor your Cal Grant status and make sure your GPA actually made it all the way into the state's database. Remember, a missed deadline is a missed deadline, even if it wasn't your fault. After you file your FAFSA, visit webgrants4students to verify your status - you'll need to create a profile. If anything you see (or don't see) worries you, ask at the College & Career Center or ask your Counselor to help you figure it out.
Cal Grant Help Line: 888-224-7268


Stafford Loan
This is a federal student loan. With the unsubsidized loan, the interest accrues while you are in school, but you don't pay it until after you stop attending. With the subsidized loan, the government pays the interest while you are in school.

Work Study
A college might offer Work Study (on-campus employment) as a way for you to meet your cost of attendance. It is important to know that these offers can vary widely from college to college. Work Study is very similar to having an off-campus job, but with Work Study your pay in considered financial aid rather than income.

Other Loans
If you still have unmet need, the PLUS loan is a popular loan for parents of students. Some families choose to use a home equity-type loan. Shop around for best interest rates and repayment options.


  • FAFSA Opens October 1st for college enrollment next Fall.
  • Cal Grant info (ORHS electronically uploads GPA's for all Seniors in the fall without use of a paper form).
  • Webgrants for Students - Students should create an account & check that their GPA came through.


CSS Profile - Opens October 1st
This is a financial aid application required by some universities in addition to the FAFSA to see if you qualify for non-federal aid. To see if a CSS profile is required by the schools you're applying to, click here.
To start your CSS profile, go to

ToolsGo To Top of Page

When you submit a FAFSA, you will learn your EFC. In the meantime, use this calculator to predict what it will be.

Helpful BooksGo To Top of Page

  • The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O'Shaughnessey  
  • How to Get Money for College - Petersens
  • 1001 Ways to Pay for College by Gen and Kelly Tanage
  • Free $ for College for Dummies
  • College Money Handbook