Financial Aid Services at College of San Mateo - FAQs
Spring 2020 Grades Available
Monday, June 1, 2020
Summer Session Begins
Monday, June 15, 2020
Independence Day Holiday
Friday, July 3, 2020
Sexual Misconduct & Title IX
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
Financial Aid Services

What types of Federal Financial Aid are available?
There are three types of Federal Financial Aid: grants, loans, and work-study. (A grant is free money. Loans are borrowed from the government and MUST be repaid. Work-study is a job on campus.)

How do I apply for Federal Financial Aid?
You must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) . You can do it electronically at Once completed you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via e-mail or in the mail. Please review your SAR and bring it to the Financial Aid Office if there are any corrections to make.

Is there anything else that I have to submit to the College of San Mateo Financial Aid Office?

Students need to send their official transcripts (from ALL non-district schools that they have attended) to the CSM Financial Aid Office. In addition, about a third of the applicants will be chosen for verification and will need to submit the required documents prior to their file being processed.

What is verification?
Verification is proving that the income you reported on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is correct. Usually, verification is completed by submitting a photo copy of your and/or your parent's federal tax return. In addition, you will be asked to submit a Verification Worksheet to confirm your Dependent or Independent status.

Do I have to go to school full-time to receive Federal Financial Aid?
No. You will be eligible for most Federal Financial Aid if you attend school half-time. However, with the Pell and SEOG Grants, your awards will be larger if you attend full-time.

If I'm eligible for financial aid, how often will I receive money?
Generally, grant recipients receive two checks a semester. One check comes at the beginning of the term and one check comes at the middle of the term. Loan recipients usually get two checks a year: one in Fall and one in Spring. College Work-Study students get one paycheck a month.

How much money can I get if I apply for financial aid?
It depends upon your family's situation. The maximum Pell Grant would be $5,550 per year. The maximum Subsidized Stafford Loan for a first year student is $3,500. Work-study allocations usually begin at $2,500 per year.

If I am living away from my parents, am I considered to be "independent?"
Not necessarily. Applicants for Federal Financial Aid (below the age of 24) are considered to be dependents, unless they are married, a veteran, an orphan, a ward of the court, or have dependents (usually children).

What is the maximum money that I could earn in a year and still qualify for a grant?
About $14,500 for a single, "independent" student without dependents.

How long does it take from the time I complete my FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to when I receive my first check?
It may take at least 4-8 weeks.

Why does it take so long to receive the money?
Because many people are applying for financial aid. But here's a rough breakdown of the steps and the approximate timeframe for each: For you to receive your SAR after you have submitted your application online (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): 2 to 4 weeks; For CSM to process your file: 4 to 6 weeks.

I didn't get my SAR. Is there a number I can call to find out what happened?
Call 1-800- 4-FED-AID / (800) 433-3243 (Note: If you provided an e-mail address, the SAR will be sent to you electronically.)

I have a "dead end" job and want to go back to school full time. Can I afford to quit my job and then go to school?
It might be difficult--especially in the first year. However, regardless of your income in the previous year, you will probably qualify for student loans.

Do I have to pay a loan back?
Yes. Payments for student loans begin once a student leaves school for six months (or falls below half-time enrollment for six months).

Is there a deadline for applying for Federal Financial Aid?
Yes & No. Students may submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application as early as October for the academic year that begins in the following Fall. Students that apply by March 2nd will receive priority consideration for several types of Federal Financial Aid. Students that don't meet the priority deadline can still apply throughout the school year. (However, some Federal Financial Aid may no longer be available for those that apply late.) There is also a second deadline of September 2nd for Cal Grant consideration (only for community colleges).

Do I have to "do well" in school to receive Federal Financial Aid?
Yes. For each semester that you receive aid you will need to complete a certain number of units with a minimum GPA of at least 2.0. In addition, you need to maintain an overall completion rate of at least 67% and an overall GPA of at least 2.0. (This is called maintaining "Satisfactory Academic Progress.")

How long can I receive Federal Financial Aid at the CSM?
Provided that you maintain satisfactory academic progress, you can receive Federal Financial Aid until you exceed 150% of the published length of an eligible program. (Students in 60 unit A.A./A.S. programs or planning to transfer to 4-year schools will need to complete their studies by the time they earn 90 units.) Students who exceed the maximum time-frame may petition for an extension of funding through an "appeal process."

Do I have to reapply for Federal Financial Aid every year?

If I apply for Federal Financial Aid, do I also get admitted to CSM?
No. You need to complete a separate CSM Application for Admission.