California Middle Class Scholarship (MCS)

The Middle-Class Scholarship program provides undergraduate students with family incomes and assets up to $171,000 a scholarship to attend University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses.  MCS awards are not set amounts and may vary by student and institution.  The award is determined after you are awarded any federal, state and institutional need-based grants for which you are eligible.  Students receiving federal or state grants or other benefits which pay the State University Tuition Fee would not be eligible for the MCS.  Current annual awards range from $90-$2,298.  The final award amount will be based on the number of students eligible for the MCS statewide and the funding allocated by the State Budget. Students will automatically be considered for MCS.

Student Eligibility Requirements

  • To receive a MCS you must meet the following criteria:
    • File the FAFSA or California Dream Application by March 2nd
    • Be a California resident attending a UC or CSU in an undergraduate or credential program.
    • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or have AB 540 student status.
    • Be enrolled at least half-time and paying the UC or CSU State University Tuition Fee
    • Not awarded federal or state grants or receiving other benefits which pay the State University Tuition Fee.
    • Meet certain income and other financial aid standards.
    • Be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress.
    • Not be incarcerated.
    • Not be in default on a student loan.
    • Students may receive the MCS award for up to 12 quarter terms depending on Education Level when awarded.


Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at or the California Dream Act Application at

Total Income: Reported Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) plus any reported untaxed income (ex: tax-deferred pension payments) minus any reported credits (ex: Educational credits) equals Total Income.

Students whose families have income and assets up to $171,000 per year may be eligible for a scholarship of no less than 10% and no more than 40% of the mandatory system-wide tuition and fees at the University of California and the California State University.


Middle-Class Scholarship - Education Level Determination

Per the California Education Code Section 70022.5 (dated Sept. 21, 2016):

“Commencing with the 2016–17 academic year, the total number of years of eligibility for grants pursuant to this article shall be based on the student’s educational level in his or her course of study as designated by the institution of attendance when the recipient initially receives payment for a grant.”


The Education Level/Student Standing reported by Cal Poly to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) is used to establish the student’s total Middle-Class Scholarship (MCS) lifetime eligibility. Education Level/Student Standing for lifetime eligibility is established the first term a student receives a MCS payment. For students enrolled at Cal Poly before Fall of 2016, Education Level/Student Standing for lifetime eligibility was determined the first term a MCS payment was received for the 2016/17 academic year.

Cal Poly determines a student’s Education Level/Student Standing according to the number of quarter units earned, not the number of years a student has been attending. For the purposes of this calculation, earned units include transfer and Advanced Placement credit, in addition to Cal Poly units. Note that Education Level/Student Standing can differ from Academic Progress levels; the Academic Progress calculation takes into account only degree-applicable units, whereas Education Level/Student Standing includes all earned units, whether they apply to the degree or not.


Academic Level

Quarter Units Earned


Fewer than 45 units


45 to 89 units


90 to 134 units


135 or more units

Earned units include transfer and Advanced Placement credit, in addition to Cal Poly units For more information: Academic Standard and Policies: Other Academic Policies



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