2016-2017 Vital Award Information

This is financial aid information for the upcoming academic year. Please take time to read this information and submit all requested documents by the due date provided to avoid delays in receiving aid.

Information Disclosure

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects confidentiality and limits our ability to release information to anyone other than the student regarding financial aid.
  • Any documents submitted by you and/or your parents and details of your award package are considered confidential and will not be released without your written consent.
  • An Authorization to Release Financial Aid Information form is available on our website.

Applying for Financial Aid

  • To apply for financial aid starting January 1 you need to complete the 2016-17 FAFSA (www.fafsa.gov) or the California Dream Act (www.csac.ca.gov/dream_act) for AB540 students NOT eligible for federal financial aid. Students must complete the FAFSA each year they are interested in receiving financial aid.
  • The priority filing period is from January 1st to March 2nd. You can apply after March 2nd but may not be considered for the more limited types of aid.
  • For students who have been admitted and have completed a FAFSA financial aid award notices are posted to students’ portals in early April. Awards continue to be posted and students notified via their Cal Poly email as FAFSA information is received or scholarship decisions are made.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: please check your to-do list for any documents needed to finalize your financial aid award. Eligibility for the need-based aid awarded is not final and will not disburse until all required documents are received and reviewed. Failure to submit required documents by June 30, 2016 may result in the cancellation of any campus based funds (SEOG, Perkins or Work Study).
  • If you are filing your taxes electronically, 3 weeks after filing you can update the FAFSA with accurate tax return information by going to FAFSA.gov and when you change your tax filing status to complete, an option to use the IRS Data Retrieval will appear. Follow the instructions to upload the tax data directly into the FAFSA.

Accepting or Declining Your Aid

  • You need to accept or decline scholarships, loans and work-study. Grant aid is automatically accepted for you as we assume that you want all grant money offered. Cal Poly scholarships must be accepted to confirm that you want the scholarship and will abide by the scholarship conditions.
  • Go to my.calpoly.edu to accept scholarships, loans or Federal Work-Study to avoid cancellation.
  • If you receive any outside scholarships you are required to notify the Financial Aid Office of the scholarship and amount, including those given directly to you, and we are required to coordinate your scholarship aid with any other aid you are receiving. You can report scholarships using The Outside Scholarship Notification form, available here.

Receiving Financial Aid Funds

  • The Student Accounts Office (SAO) receives the grant, scholarship, and/or loan disbursements, pays any outstanding balance and refunds remaining funds to you, the student. For more information on paying university charges with financial aid, click here.
  • For more information on how refunds (money in excess of your university charges) are provided to you, click here.
  • Refunds: If you have Direct Deposit, the preferred method, the amount goes directly into a personal bank account. For students without Direct Deposit, the Student Accounts Office produces a check and sends it to the mailing address listed on my.calpoly.edu. Direct Deposit can be set up from your portal under the Money Matters tab.
  • Financial aid will be refunded at the start of each quarter. Funds are disbursed to student accounts and any credit balance refunded the Friday before classes start only if:
    • All requested documents are submitted (check your 'to-do' list)
    • The file has been reviewed and finalized by a counselor
    • Loans have been accepted; prom note signed; entrance counseling completed
    • For Plus Loans, a 2016-17 PLUS loan application must be completed (no earlier than June 1st) at www.studentloans.gov.
    • Full-time enrollment at least one week before classes begin
    • Funds remain after registration and other costs are paid

What's Next?

  • If this is your first loan at Cal Poly, after accepting your loans, you will need to complete a master promissory note. It will be available to sign electronically at www.studentloans.gov after June 1.
  • If this is your first loan at Cal Poly you must complete Stafford Loan Entrance Counseling at www.studentloans.gov after June 1.
  • Watch for emails from the Financial Aid Office with information about changes to your awards or additional information you might need to submit.
  • Parents who want to borrow the PLUS must also complete a Direct Loan Application at www.studentloans.gov. The on-line application will be available after June 1, 2016. If approved, and this is the parent’s first PLUS loan for this student the parent who applied will be prompted to complete a master promissory note. No direct parent monies will disburse unless the parent loan application is approved and the MPN note is completed.

General Award Information

  • Awards are subject to change.
  • Common reasons for award adjustment include changes in enrollment, residency status or over-awards due to receipt of aid from other sources.
  • Awards are based on full-time enrollment (12 units/quarter for undergraduates, teaching credential and second bachelor candidates; 8 units/quarter for graduates). Enrollment in less than full-time units will delay disbursement of grant funds until after the third week of the term.
  • Aid is based on the units in which you are registered as of the end of the Add/Drop period. If you dropped units after receiving full time funds, you may be required to repay some or all of the funds disbursed. Units added after the add/drop date will not be re-evaluated for reinstatement of grant eligibility.
  • Click here to link to student rights and responsibilities.


  • In case of partial or total withdrawal from classes, a financial aid award may be reduced or canceled and the return of funds may be required.
  • In case of a fee refund, all or part may be returned to the financial aid fund from which the aid was awarded.
  • All or a portion of the funds paid may need to be returned. The amount is based on formulas established by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Consult with the Student Accounts Office prior to dropping or withdrawing to determine your potential liability.

Changes in Income

  • If there is a significant decrease in family income from last year to the current year, that reduction can be considered.
  • Families should complete the Change of Income form under forms on our website no earlier than June 15, 2016.
  • A counselor will review the information and if it appears the reported income change will impact the financial aid we are able to offer, will notify the family to submit additional verification documents to update the award.

Changes in Circumstance

  • If financial circumstances change (e.g. death of parent or spouse, marriage or divorce of parent or student, large medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance etc.), request a review.
  • You are required to report changes that affect your aid eligibility (e.g. receipt of additional resources, remarriage of parent, etc.).
  • If any changes occur, send a letter detailing your situation to the Financial Aid Office. A counselor will review your information and respond within 30 days.

Additional Information

  • Your Cal Poly Empl ID# is located on the Personal Info tab on your portal.
  • To view types of financial aid and loan information, click here.
  • To find out how to contact The Financial Aid Office, click here.
  • To review the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements, click here.

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