Financial Aid Programs offered at Cuesta College

Program offered

(click on name for details on how to apply)


 Funds can be used for 

AB19/California College Promise (CCP)


Tuition fees only at this time

 California College Promise Grant (CCPG)


Tuition fees only

 Federal Pell Grant


Any expenses



Any expenses

 Cal Grant


Any expenses

 Chafee Grant


Any expenses



Any expenses

 Cuesta Promise


Tuition and other fees

 Cuesta Scholarship


Any expenses

 Federal Work-Study


Any expenses

 Federal Direct Loans


Any expenses

 Federal Parent PLUS


Any expenses 

 ASCC Book Loan


Books only

This page is maintained by Financial Aid.  

  Fee Waivers

Fee waivers remove the necessity to pay registration or other fees, but do not provide any extra money that can be used for other items.

AB19/California College Promise (CCP)

AB19 was approved by the governor in 2017, effective for 18-19. There is no mandate that a college must use these appropriated funds for the sole purpose of providing a Promise Program to all first time full time students (A Promise Program provides all first time full-time students with a fee waiver for one year.)

At Cuesta we have decided for 18-19 and until further notice to provide students who are first time full time a fee waiver. This is applied at the Pell recalculation date (the fourth week of the semester) when a student is frozen at full time enrollment. For a student to maintain eligibility in the next term a students need to also complete full time enrollment. Funds are available for the 2nd year, and the same rules apply. 


 California College Promise Grant (CCPG)

The CCPG (formerly known as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver) waives enrollment fees for California residents (or AB-540/AB-2000 students) who are eligible under one of the following methods:

Method A

A student is eligible under Method A if they:

  • Received TANF, CalWORKS, SSI, or General Assistance payments in the last two years (2017 or 2018 for the academic year 2018-2019);
  • Are a dependent student and one of their parents received such assistance;
  • Have certification from the California Department of Veterans Affairs or the National Guard Adjutant General stating that the student is eligible for the waiver;
  • Are a recipient—or the child of a recipient—of the Congressional Medal of Honor;
  • Are a dependent of a victim of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack; OR
  • Are a dependent of deceased law enforcement or fire suppression personnel who were killed in the line of duty.

Method B

Eligibility is based on household size and total family income (adjusted gross income plus all other untaxed income). 

Family Size for 19-20
2017 Income
1  $18,210
2  $24,690
3  $31,170
4  $37,650
5  $44,130
6  $50,610
7  $57,090
8  $63,570
Each Additional Family Member  $6,480

Method C

A student is eligible for the CCPG under Method C if the student has completed a FAFSA or California Dream Act Application for the correct academic year and they are determined to have a financial need of $1,104 or greater. Financial need is determined by subtracting the estimated family contribution from the student’s cost of attendance budget. 

How to apply for the CCPG

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application
  2. If you are eligible for a CCPG, you will be awarded once your data has been processed by Cuesta (usually within a week for FAFSA and a month for the CA Dream Act)

 NOTE:  You must be meeting academic progress standards in order to maintain your CCPG eligibility.  In general, you must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and pass more than 50% of the units you attempt each term.  For more information, visit


Grants are gift aid that does not have to be repaid if you complete your term and doesn't require you to work in order to receive it. Grants are often awarded on the basis of financial need or some specific qualification based on your background (e.g. grants for single parents or foster youth).

Grant programs administered by Cuesta College:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Cal Grant B & C
  • Chafee Grant
  • EOPS/CARE Grants

  Pell Grant Program 

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to post-secondary education. Applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements for federal student aid. 

The amount awarded to an eligible student is dependent upon:

  • the student's expected family contribution (EFC);
  • the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution);
  • the number of units a student is taking; AND
  • whether the student attends for a full academic year or less

The Department of Education recently established new regulations which reduce the duration of a student's eligibility to receive a federal Pell Grant to 12 full-time semesters (or its equivalent).

 How to apply for the Federal Pell Grant

  1. File the FAFSA; AND
  2. Complete the application process with Cuesta.

  Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

The FSEOG Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to post-secondary education. Specific award amounts vary and priority is given to those students with with the lowest expected family contributions at the institution and receive Federal Pell Grant.

SEOG funds are limited and are awarded to eligible students by selecting a random set of students with a zero EFC.

 How to apply for the FSEOG

  1. File the FAFSA; AND
  2. Complete the application process with Cuesta.

  Cal Grant Program 

The Cal Grant program is designed to help low-income California residents with the costs of pursuing undergraduate education at California institutions. There are two programs that are available to Cuesta College students: Cal Grant B and Cal Grant C.

  • Cal Grant B provides a living allowance (and sometimes tuition/fee assistance) for low-income/disadvantaged students with high potential.
  • Cal Grant C assists vocational students with tuition and training costs. Students must be enrolled in an eligible vocational program at Cuesta College from four to twenty-four months in length.
  • Under AB 2248 students that are awarded a Cal Grant A or B need to take 15 semester units, or 30 semester units per academic year to graduate in four years. Cal Grant awards are limited to four academic years, except for students enrolled in an institutionally required five-year undergraduate program or for students with baccalaureate degrees admitted to and enrolled in a program of professional teacher preparation. 

How to apply for the Cal Grant

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application before March 2;
  2. Ensure that a certified GPA was sent to the California Student Aid Commission before March 2; AND
  3. Complete the application process with Cuesta.
  • If you are a Cal Grant recipient and you are enrolled Full Time you are eligible for the Full Time Student Success Grant which is $1,000 a year.
  • If you are a Cal Grant recipient, you may be eligible for an extra $2,000 if you take 15 credits or more each term that count towards your educational goal. This is in addition to the $1,000 Full Time Student Success Grant that you can obtain for taking 12 units or more.

  California Chafee Grants for Foster Youth

Chafee grants provide up to $5,000 a year to youth who are or were in the foster care system. To qualify, a student must be a current or former foster youth who has not reached his/her 22nd birthday as of July 1 of the award year. Additionally, the court must have established the student’s dependency status between the ages of 16 and 18.

 How to apply for the Chafee Grant

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application; AND
  2. Complete the online California Chafee Grant Application.

  EOPS / CARE Grants

Students who are participants in Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) or the Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) programs may receive small grants when funds are available.  

 How to apply for EOPS / CARE

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application;
  2. Complete the application process for financial aid; AND
  3. Complete the EOPS Application Process.


Like grants, scholarships don't have to be repaid and you don't need to work to earn them. However, scholarships are often competitive and are awarded on the basis of academic merit. 

Scholarships come in two basic types: inside and outside. Inside scholarships are those that are managed and awarded within the college itself (like the Cuesta College Scholarship program), while outside scholarships are awarded by entities other than the college. 

  The Cuesta Promise

This program pays all tuition and course-related fees for any graduate from a San Luis Obispo County high school (including students who receive their GED or are home-schooled) who is attending Cuesta College the first year immediately following their completion of high school.  A second year is now available for students who complete the FAFSA or California Dream Act for the next upcoming year, and who in the first year completed more than 50% of the classes attempted cumulatively and have above a 2.0 GPA cumulatively. 

How to apply for The Cuesta Promise

  1. Apply to Cuesta;
  2. Complete the online scholarship application;
  3. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application;
  4. Complete the Cuesta College Online Orientation; AND
  5. Register for classes on the myCuesta Student Portal when fall registration is available.

Cuesta College Scholarship Program

This program, made available through private donors, offers over 150 scholarships to current Cuesta students and incoming freshmen. Each scholarship has its own set of eligibility requirements, but most scholarships require an overall GPA of at least 2.0.

Students only need to submit one scholarship application to be considered for all of the scholarships offered. When deciding who to award, the committee places the highest emphasis on the written answers to the 5 questions at the end of the application, but also considers academic performance and financial need.

 How to apply for the Cuesta College Scholarships

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application before March 2;
  2. Apply to Cuesta if you are not currently a Cuesta student or have been absent for more than two terms;
  3. Complete the online scholarship application before March 2; AND
  4. Complete the application process for financial aid.


Federal Work-Study (FWS)

The Federal Work-study Program provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students finance the costs of post-secondary education. Students are awarded an amount of money (usually $3000 at Cuesta) which is used to pay their hourly wages at a work-study position.  

The institution itself; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization may employ students. Wages may never be below the federal minimum wage, and, ideally, the job will be related to the student's career interests or academic field.

 How to get Federal Work-Study at Cuesta College

  1. Complete your FAFSA.  Be sure to indicate interest in Federal Work Study!
  2. Complete the application process for financial aid.
  3. Find a FWS position.
  4. Make sure your new employer fills out the appropriate paperwork:
    • FWS referral form
    • Job description form
    • Student Employment Confirmation
    • Short-Term/Temporary Employment Application
    • If your employer isn't sure what to do, have them check out our "FWS Info For Employers" page.
  5. Employer sends your paperwork to the Federal Work Study Coordinator in Financial Aid.
  6. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) status is checked
    • If you are on warning status prior to the term's beginning, we will process your new hire paperwork but we will review your SAP Status again, once the semester has ended, to make sure you are still in good standing.
    • If you are making satisfactory progress or have submitted a successful SAP appeal, your paperwork will be processed immediately.
  7. The Financial Aid Office gives you a work-study award.
    • Award amount is $3,000 for the entire academic year
    • Amount cannot exceed unmet need
  8. The Financial Aid Office sends your paperwork to Human Resources (HR).
  9. The Financial Aid Coordinator contacts you for our New Hire Orientation.
  10. HR contacts you to arrange tuberculosis testing, fingerprinting, and a new employee orientation.
  11. HR clears you to work.

 NOTE: You CANNOT begin working prior to HR clearance. Failure to get HR clearance before working will result in your FWS award being revoked. 

 Finding a Position

Having a FWS award does NOT guarantee you a position. It is your responsibility to find an open FWS position. Your award may be removed or awarded to another student after days of inactivity, so please be proactive!

To search for work study jobs, register for the Cuesta online job database. Once you find an employer that is willing to hire you for a FWS position, make sure that employer submits all the necessary completed documents to the Financial Aid Office.

 HR Process

In addition to finding a job, you will need to work with the Cuesta College Human Resources Department to do the following:

  • Human Resources will email you the necessary paperwork for the Fingerprinting, TB Testing, and New Employee Packet. Please do not try and contact the Human Resources Department prior to receiving this email;

  • Note that fingerprinting results may take up to thirty (30) days to arrive; therefore, plan according as you cannot start working until HR clears you and all of your paperwork.

  • Upon completion of fingerprinting, TB testing and New Employee Paperwork Packet, submit TB Testing Receipt and New Employee Packet to Human Resources;

 Once Human Resources receives all necessary documents, they will advise you and your supervisor that you can begin working. You may then set up a work schedule with your supervisor. Please keep track of your time worked.

  • Timecards must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by the 20th of each month, unless we advise you via email, to submit it earlier. You can find blank timecards on the Federal Work Study page, along with all the other blank FWS forms.

 Salary / Hours

If you qualify for FWS, your salary may start at the federal minimum wage, but it may be higher, depending on the type of work and required skills. The total award amount depends on the application date, the level of your need, and how much FWS money the school has to award.

Undergraduate students are paid by the hour. Unlike a loan program, money is not paid before you earn it. No FWS student may be paid by commission or fee. Students must be paid by the school directly at least once a month.

The amount you earn cannot exceed your total FWS award. The employers, out of their own funds, must pay any overage or overtime. When assigning work hours, the employer or financial aid administrator takes your class schedule and academic progress into consideration. When classes are in session, students cannot work more than 20 hours in a given week.


Unlike the other financial aid options, loans have to be repaid (often with interest). There are three kinds of loans available through the Cuesta College Financial Aid Office: student loans, parent loans, and emergency book loans. 

NOTE: We do not offer or certify any private loans. 

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

This government program offers low-interest loans to eligible students who are enrolled in at least six units. There are two types of student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

 Subsidized Direct Loans

  • The federal government subsidizes (pays) any interest that student loans accrue while the students are still enrolled in school at least half-time.
  • New legislation limits eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans to 150 percent of the length of the student’s academic program for new borrowers beginning on or after July 1, 2013. The 150 percent change means students in a two-year program will be eligible to receive subsidized student loans for the equivalent of three years. Note that the federal subsidy can be lost in some cases where a student moves from a longer academic program to a shorter academic program.

 Unsubsidized Direct Loans

  • Students are required to pay the interest while they are in school. Interest payments may be deferred while the student is in school, but the accrued interest will be capitalized.

For more information about federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, click this link:

 Terms and Repayment

Although the interest rate for direct loans varies from year-to-year, a direct loan will be fixed at that rate once it has been originated. For up-to-date information on the terms of student loans, including interest rates and interest fees, visit

Student loan repayment begins six months after students graduate, withdraw from school, or drop below half-time enrollment status. 

 How to apply for student loans

  1. File your FAFSA.
  2. Complete the application process for financial aid.
  3. Complete the student loan application process.

  Direct PLUS Loan Program

Parents of dependent students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay their children’s education expenses as long as certain eligibility requirements are met:

  • The parent borrower must be the student's biological or adoptive parent. In some cases, the student's stepparent may be eligible.
  • The student must be a dependent student who is enrolled at least half-time (six units) at Cuesta College. 
  • The parent borrower must not have an adverse credit history (A credit check is conducted when you begin the loan application process). If the parent does not pass the credit check, the parent may still receive a loan if someone (a relative or friend) is able to pass the credit check and agrees to endorse the loan. The endorser promises to repay the loan if the parent fails to do so.
  • The student and parent must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, must not be in default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and must meet other general eligibility requirements for the federal student aid programs.
  • The Direct PLUS loan program requires that parents reapply each year if they wish to borrow more funds

 How to apply for a PLUS loan

  1. Student files the FAFSA.
  2. Student completes the application process for financial aid.
  3. Student completes the student loan application process.
  4. Parent completes an MPN and Direct PLUS loan request.

  ASCC Emergency Book Loan Program

This loan program is designed to help students who do not have their financial aid ready, but are in desperate need of money to buy books to begin their term.  The Associated Students of Cuesta College (ASCC) provide up to $300 to buy books at the Cuesta College bookstore on the condition that the loan is paid back by a set date, usually the midpoint of the term in which the loan is made.  Applications are made in person at the Financial Aid Office and are only available for two weeks: the week before the first week and the first week of the fall and spring terms. 

NOTE: Students who have received an ASCC book loan in the last two terms or who have ever been late in repaying a previous ASCC book loan are not eligible to apply. 

 How to apply for the ASCC Emergency Book Loan

  1. Fill out a FAFSA or a California Dream Act application.
  2. Enroll in at least six units.
  3. Purchase an ASCC ID card for the current term. 
  4. Complete the Book Loan application in person at the Financial Aid office during the first week of the fall or spring semester (or during the week before that).