6 Step Financial Aid Process

Financial Aid Process







How1 APPLY to Apply


Sacramento State's School Code is 001150

File a FAFSA

Request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at www.pin.ed.gov.  The PIN serves as your electronic signature.  Parents of dependent students must apply for their own PIN.  You will need this to e-sign your completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Every year on January 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available for the following academic year.  Sacramento State's priority filing deadline is March 2 of every year.  Complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov and have your Federal Student and/or Parent PIN on hand to submit it online.  If your parent is unable to apply for a PIN, you must print the parent signature page and mail it to the address listed on the signature page.

File a Dream Act Application

Every year in early January, the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) makes the Dream Act Application available for AB540 eligible students.  Sacramento State's priority filing deadline is March 2 of every year. Complete the Dream Act Application at www.caldreamact.org. You and/or your parent will be provided a PIN during the application process. 

What does the priority filing date mean?  Some aid programs are awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis.  The earlier you apply the earlier you will be notified of your financial aid eligibility.

File a Cal Grant GPA Verification

In addition to filing a FAFSA or Dream Act Application, undergraduate students may apply to be considered for Cal Grant A or B.  March 2 is the deadline to have your GPA Verification form submitted to CSAC. 

Sacramento State students who have not been previously awarded a Cal Grant AND completed 24 or more units at Sacramento State, should file their FAFSA by February 21; Sacramento State will send your Cal Grant GPA to CSAC.

For more information on Cal Grant Awards visit CSAC’s website at www.csac.ca.gov.


2SUBMITSubmit Documents

To complete your financial aid file, you may need to submit additional documents or other financial aid forms.  Any documents required to complete your file will be posted to your To Do list.   Monitor your My Sac State Student Center often.  Processing time is generally about 6 to 8 weeks.

Information you may be asked to verify include but are not limited to:Forms

  • Income earned from work
  • Income earned from work if you were not required to file a tax return
  • Asset information
  • Child Support paid
  • Household size
  • Citizenship status
  • Any other information needed to determine eligibility

To receive a timely fall disbursement, “Get Your Docs Done by June 1”

It is important to submit all requested forms as soon as possible to ensure that your financial aid processed in a timely manner.  Documents may be submitted in person to the Student Services Counter, in the drop box located outside the Financial Aid Office door, by mail or fax:

California Sacramento University, Sacramento
Financial Aid Office
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA  95819-6044

Fax: (916) 278-6082

Be sure to include your Sac State ID number on all documents you submit.

Verifying your income will be easier and faster if you and/or your parents have already completed your IRS Federal Tax Returns.

  • You and/or your parents should complete your IRS Federal Tax Returns as early as possible.  Doing so, will allow you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when filing your FAFSA
  • You can estimate income on the FAFSA and later correct your estimated income using the data retrieval process
  • If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will need to request and submit a copy of you and/or your parents IRS Tax Return Transcripts

Quick Reference:


3ELIGIBILITYDetermining Eligibility

General eligibility requirements include:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen (for FAFSA filers) or have AB 540 status (for Dream Act filers)
  • Have a valid social security number (for FAFSA filers)
  • Be admitted to a degree or credential program
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Be eligible for aid according to federal and/or state regulations
  • Re-apply every year to be considered for financial aid

Determining Your Need
The calculation used to determine your financial aid eligibility depends on your Cost of Attendance (COA), your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and any other financial assistance you may receive for your educational expenses.  The Financial Aid Office must review your FAFSA or Dream Act application and supporting documentation to determine your financial aid need.  Need is defined as the COA minus your EFC.

Cost of Attendance - Minus EFC = Financial Aid Need

Your award, including student and/or parent loans, will never be more than the COA. 

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The EFC is not an actual amount that you pay to the university; it is a calculation of how much you and your family are expected (can reasonably) contribute to help for your educational expenses. 

The amount the EFC computed depends on:

  • Taxed and untaxed income
  • Assets
  • Household information
  • Other income reported items


4AWARDAward Notification

If your financial aid file is complete, you will receive an award notification via your Saclink email directing you to your My Sac State Student Center to accept/decline your awards.  The Financial Aid Office does not send estimated award notifications.

Most aid programs are awarded in an offer status.  You should respond in a timely manner by accepting and/or declining your offers. Awards in offer status are subject to cancelation after 30 days.

Continuing Students

Continuing students will begin to receive their award notifications starting mid-June.  The Financial Aid Office must determine that you have met the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress review after Spring grades post. 

Census and Award Adjustments

Census is when the University verifies your actual enrollment.  Initial awards are based on full-time attendance (12 units) but aid is disbursed according to enrolled units.   Disbursed amounts may be adjusted if your enrollment at Census is less than what it was at the time of disbursement.  This adjustment may or may not result in repayment of aid.


5 FINANCIAL AID HOLDSFinancial Aid Holds

Financial aid holds will be listed on the Hold section of your My Sac State Student Center account.  Some aid programs require additional steps be taken before a disbursement is authorized.  Read your hold message for additional information and action if necessary.

Financial Aid Holds do not prevent you from registering.


6REFUNDRefund of Aid

Disbursements occur once a week throughout the term unless there is a holiday.  Disbursements begin one week before the start of the semester, and will first be applied to outstanding university charges.  If funds remain, they will be refunded to you for other educational expenses.

Disbursement vs. Refund

Disbursement is the process by which the Financial Aid Office authorizes payment of aid.  Disbursement of aid generally occurs every Wednesday.  Not all aid programs may be available for full disbursement at one time, and as a result, you may receive multiple disbursements of aid.  After the Financial Aid Office disburses your aid, Student Financial Services Center then begins the application of your aid to any debt and if applicable, refund process.

Refund is the process of any remaining funds after Student Financial Services Center (SFSC) has applied your disbursed aid to your university debt.  If you have remaining financial funds after the debt has been satisfied for the semester, SFSC will process the remaining funds as a refund.   You are encouraged to sign-up for e-Refund which is the process to deposit your refund directly in your own bank account.  It is the fastest method of receiving funds.  To sign up for this FREE service, log into your My Sac State account, navigate to your Student Center, under the Finances section, click the Account Inquiry link, and then select the green eRefund button.

Parent PLUS Loan funds cannot be disbursed/refunded through the e-Refund process.  Parents will be mailed a refund check after all university debts have been paid for the semester.


Updated: 8/16/2014