Apply for Financial Aid

August 25, 2016

By Financial Aid and Scholarship Office 831-459-2963


A variety of aid is available for all income levels. Whether or not you believe  you are eligible, we encourage all students to apply for financial aid each year. Applying begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at for most students. If you are not eligible for federal aid and attended a California high school for at least three years, you may be eligible to complete the California Dream Act Application at Applying for financial aid is free.

Please note: You will now be able to file your FAFSA or Dream Application starting Oct 1st instead of January 1st. Students who complete their 2017–18 FAFSA or Dream Application will be able to submit them anytime between Oct. 1, 2016, and March 2. 

For the 2017–18 FAFSA or Dream Application, students will also provide income information from one tax year earlier—the “prior-prior” year. This means that the 2017–18 FAFSA or Dream Application will collect 2015 income information. For the 2018-19 FAFSA or Dream Application, you will provide 2016 tax information and so forth. As a result of this change, more students and families will be able to complete their financial aid applications using our IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), rather than submitting applications with income estimates, or worse, waiting until the previous year’s tax return has been filed.


The priority deadline to receive consideration for need-based state and/or institutional aid is March 2nd. The information you provide on your application is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is used by UC Santa Cruz to determine your eligibility for financial aid. You can apply for financial aid before admissions decisions are determined and before your tax returns have been filed.

Application Tips

  • Apply early! Applications become available early October for the upcoming academic year.
  • Re-apply every year
  • Submit your application by March 2 for priority consideration
  • Include the UC Santa Cruz Code: 001321
  • Select the correct aid year on your financial aid application when applying (i.e., 2017-2018 for Fall 2017)
  • Submit any requested financial aid documents to our office by June 1 for entering and continuing students, and July 1 for transfer students. Check your UCSC “To-Do List” on your student portal to make sure you submit any requests or clear any FAFSA or Dream Application rejects
  • We recommend using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update your FAFSA or Dream Application with your actual tax numbers. You may need to verify your tax information with an IRS Tax Transcript if you are eligible, but do not use the data retrieval tool

Questions About Applying?

For help with your FAFSA, call 1-800-4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243); Mon–Fri: 8:00 a.m.–12:00 midnight Eastern Time or Sat: 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Or, you may contact our Financial Aid & Scholarship Office.

Additional Resources

7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA Tutorial

How to Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to Update Your FAFSA

FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

The California Dream Act Application

FAFSA Tips for Applicants in Unique Situations