The Youth Center at St. James
1325 Monterey Road
        South Pasadena, Ca
            (626) 799-6266

Understanding Financial Aid

Figuring out how to pay for college is one of the most important things on the minds of parents and students. We have provided a sampling of helpful resources to help your family figure out how to pay for college. The most important thing you need to know is that you must complete the FAFSA in order to be considered for federal financial aid. Even if you have financial aid need, your child cannot receive financial aid if you do not complete the FAFSA.

The following are important websites for you to explore:
Crash Course in Financial Aid Terms
Definitions courtesy of

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Refers to the amount of money your family can reasonably contribute to your college education as determined by FAFSA. Officially, FAFSA defines EFC as “a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.” In reality, your EFC may not reflect how much your family can reasonably afford. If your family has experienced substantial changes to their financial situation you may wish to inquire with financial aid offices about the possibility of opening a “Professional Judgment” or “Special Circumstances” case.

Tuition refers to the amount of money it costs to attend classes at a college or university. Public institutions, like UC, CSU, and CCC, have in-state tuition for residents of California, which makes attending more affordable. Private institutions charge the same tuition for all students, and each private institution has its own tuition amount. Fees are additional mandatory costs that help to cover college activities and benefits afforded to you as a student.

Grants/Scholarships: Refers to a type of financial aid that are gifts. You do not pay any of the money you receive back. The tool lists the federal and state grants/scholarships you may receive, and allows space for other grants/scholarships you receive from private organizations and companies.

Work Study: Refers to a type of financial aid you must work for. If you are awarded work-study you will be allotted a specific amount of money that you can earn by obtaining a work study job on campus. If you do not get a work study job, you will not earn your work-study financial aid amount.

Loans: Refers to financial aid you will have to pay back after you finish school. There are many types of loans. All loans accrue interest which you are responsible for paying. The tool lists the federal, state, and private loans grants/scholarships you may receive.

Unmet Need: Refers to the amount of financial need that is not covered by financial aid
Completing the FAFSA & Cost of Attendence Explained

Created by UCSB, the following is the most comprehensive and easy to follow video about how to complete the FAFSA. This is a good video to review before you even begin to apply for financial aid and again right before you complete the FAFSA in January of your child's senior year of high school (and every year thereafter she/he is in college).