CSUMB's Bright Futures urges students to apply for financial aid

February 18, 2021

Ismael Rocha

Ismael Rocha

By Tatiana Olivera

Even in a pandemic, Bright Futures continues to work diligently toward its goal of fostering progress in education outcomes in Monterey County. Bright Futures — CSUMB’s community partnership between local education, government, business, and non-profit groups — is working to boost the number of students applying for college financial aid applications before the March 2 deadline.

Students who receive federal aid are more likely to graduate within six years, providing an accelerated path to career-readiness, one of Bright Futures’ seven goals. Bright Futures is supporting local districts with materials they can use to communicate to students and parents through a collaboration with the Monterey County Office of Education and local media.

The partnership emphasizes that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and California Dream Act Application (CADAA) — for non-citizens — are essential resources for all students, not just those with low incomes. The deadline for both is Tuesday, March 2, so students have about two weeks to apply.

According to Inside Higher Ed, FAFSA application submissions dropped by nearly 10% within the past year, which is alarming considering the significant economic impact the pandemic has had on students and their families. The drop in applications could lead to severe equity issues for students who are low-income, minorities, or first-generation college students.

Students who fill out a FAFSA application could receive federal grants, loans, and work-study funds for the entire academic year. Non-citizen students are eligible for in-state tuition and state grants. Filling out these applications are free and only take about 30 minutes each to complete.

Ismael Rocha, a CSUMB alumnus who is pursuing graduate school, says this is his fifth year applying for FAFSA.

“Without having submitted my FAFSA on time, I would have lost the opportunity to receive financial aid throughout my four years at Cal State Monterey Bay,” said Rocha. “Submitting the FAFSA before March 2nd reduces so much stress, as I now have to worry less about how I will pay tuition and can focus more on academics.”

While CSUMB estimates that the cost of a student attending full-time while living at home is about $23,000 — including factors like the cost of books, travel, and a computer — most students pay much less than that thanks to financial aid. Low-income students pay less than $10,000 per year on average. Students can use the CSUMB cost calculator to estimate what their out-of-pocket cost will be.

CSUMB is one of the most affordable universities in the CSU system. Even so, financial aid administrators still highly recommend applying for FAFSA because it could cover the entire cost of attending college.

For help filling out a FAFSA or CADAA application, students can contact the financial aid office. Students can also utilize CSUMB’s online financial aid resources to learn more about FAFSA, find out how to fill out a FAFSA application, and discover other types of student aid.