Here’s an interesting historical note about universities in California: two colleges claim to be the first institutions of higher learning in the state. California Wesleyan College and Santa Clara College (now Santa Clara University) were both founded in 1851, but Santa Clara was the first to enroll students. California Wesleyan College is now known as University of the Pacific. So, what was the first college of California? The jury is out.

If you’re attending or about to attend college in California, it’s likely that you’re looking for ways to pay for your education. Well, we’ve got you covered. Below we’ve compiled a list of scholarships and grants offered by the State of California (i.e., prizes offered by the state government). We also have resources to connect you with private college scholarships. New prizes are constantly coming up, so be sure to check in with BridgesEDU Scholarships or register for our scholarship finder so you don’t miss out on any prizes.

Before we get to grants and scholarships for students attending college in California, it’s important to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as your first step. You can do that and get more information by visiting the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

If you’re an undocumented, Dream Act-eligible student, then you can skip the FAFSA and submit the CA Dream Act Application.

Once you’ve completed the FAFSA (or Dream Act Application), you’ll receive an email confirmation. Now it’s time to create your WebGrants4Students account where you’ll be asked to confirm your GPA. You’re now set up for the Cal Grant Application.

It’s also important to know that if you’re studying to be a healthcare practitioner, the State of California offers scholarships to incentivize students to work in various locales or professions. You can find these prizes below.

Now keep reading and don’t forget: apply, apply, apply! There are few disadvantages to applying for many scholarship awards.

California Scholarship Programs

The following college scholarships for California students come from the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI). The department includes a list of scholarships that is updated regularly. You can check the HCAI Funding Portal, but here’s a list of current awards.

Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program (AHSP)

The Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) works to increase and diversify California’s healthcare workforce by providing scholarships and loan repayments to health professional students and graduates who provide direct patient care in those communities. The Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program (AHSP) was established to increase the number of appropriately trained allied professionals providing direct patient care in a qualified facility or area in California.

Eligible applicants may receive scholarships of up to $15,000 for non Behavioral Health Professions and up to $25,000for Behavioral Health Professions in exchange for a 12-month service obligation practicing and providing direct patient care in a qualified facility or area in California upon graduating. AHSP is funded by special funds and donations.

Advanced Practice Healthcare Scholarship Program (APHSP)

The Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) works to increase and diversify California’s healthcare workforce by providing scholarships and loan repayments to health professional students and graduates who provide direct patient care in those communities. The Advanced Practice Healthcare Scholarship Program (APHSP) was established to increase the number of appropriately trained advanced practice professionals providing direct patient care in a qualified facility or area in California.

Eligible applicants may receive scholarships of up to $25,000 in exchange for a 12-month service obligation practicing and providing direct patient care in a qualified facility or area in California upon graduating. APHSP is funded by special funds and donations.

California Grant Programs

The Cal Grant is a California-specific financial aid allocation that does not need to be paid back. Cal Grant applicants must apply using the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application by the deadline and meet all eligibility, financial, and minimum GPA requirements of either program. Here’s a list of grants you may qualify for:

Cal Grant Community College Entitlement Award

The Cal Grant Community College Entitlement Award is for students attending a California Community College (CCC). Applicants must submit a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, plus a verified Cal Grant GPA to the California Student Aid Commission by September 2.

Cal Grant High School Entitlement Award

The Cal Grant High School Entitlement Award is for current high school seniors and recent high school graduates. Applicants must submit a high school GPA, FASFA or CADAA to the California Student Aid Commission by March 2.

Cal Grant Transfer Entitlement Award

This grant is for students who plan to transfer directly from a California Community College to a 4-Year University that offers a bachelor degree in the academic year that they are applying for the award. Deadline is March 2 and applicants must submit a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application and have a minimum GPA of 2.4.

Cal Grant Competitive Awards

For students who are not eligible for the Cal Grant Entitlement awards.

This is a competitive award and limited to 13,000 awards each academic year. To be considered for the award, you must meet the general Cal Grant eligibility requirements and complete a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application. Only students who are not awarded a Cal Grant Entitlement award can be considered.

Cal Grant B Foster Youth Award

The Cal Grant B Foster Youth award allows students who are current and former foster youth to be eligible for increased Cal Grant eligibility. Foster youth have until their 26th birthday to apply.

Cal Grant C Award

Are you interested in pursuing an occupational or technical program that could bring you closer to your dream job? The California Student Aid Commission provides State financial aid for those who meet certain income, asset, and other financial aid standards to attend college.

The Cal Grant C program provides FREE MONEY to students pursuing an occupational or technical program. Students must apply for FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application to apply. No GPA requirement.

California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth

If you are or were in foster care for at least one day, between the ages of 16 and 18 as a dependent or ward of the court and have financial need, you may qualify for up to $5,000 a year for career and technical training or college. You don’t have to pay this money back. You may also be able to use your grant to help pay for childcare, transportation and rent while you’re in school. You can use your Chafee Grant at any eligible California college or university or career or technical school, as well as schools in other states.

Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program

The Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program (LEPD) provides a need-based educational grant to dependents and spouses of employees who lost their lives in the line of duty or were totally disabled as a result of an accident or injury caused by external violence or physical force incurred in the performance of duty in the following professions:

  • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice
  • Firefighters
  • Law Enforcement
  • Tribal Firefighters

Students may be eligible for up to the full LEPD award amount in accordance with their institution awarding and Cal Grant eligibility guidelines. Students may be eligible to receive this grant for a maximum of four years.

California Military Department GI Bill Award Program (formerly the California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program)

The CMD GI Bill issues educational awards to qualifying members of the California Army or Air National Guard, California State Guard, and the California Naval Militia. This State Grant can pay for up to 100 percent of the tuition and fees at a University of California, California State University, or a California Community College. It can also be used for eligible California proprietary and private institutions. See the Frequently Asked Questions regarding how the award amount is calculated.

Find More Scholarships and Grants for California Students

To help pay for education costs, you can also use the BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder. It’s free and can help you get started on the road to paying for your education. The scholarship database matches you with thousands of scholarships from all over the country, which you can easily sort through on your dashboard. You can also use our blog as a resource to help you create great scholarship applications. We are constantly adding new resources to help you find and win prizes. Scholarships are awarded throughout the year so check back during the academic year for updates.

Ultimately, many awards exist for recipients just like you. Apply for scholarships as soon as possible and don’t miss the opportunity to help yourself pay for your college degree.