How Eligibility is Determined

Complex federal, state and University of California regulations dictate the manner in which we determine eligibility and provide assistance. Our goal is to efficiently balance regulation compliance with the day to day needs of our students.

Generally, financial aid eligibility is equal to the student budget less expected family contribution from earnings and assets, and other resources. Financial aid eligibility is the amount need-based funding a student may receive from University sources; federal programs such as Direct (Stafford) Loans; and loans, fellowships and scholarships from outside organizations.

Learn more about student budgets.

Other resources include but are not limited to untaxed income, gifts, and benefits from government programs (Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Veterans Benefits, Vocational Rehabilitation, etc.).

Expected family contribution is based on the income and asset information reported on the FAFSA. Read below for further details about how income and assets are assessed.

Some students have been selected for a process called verification. The U.S. Department of Education requires us to verify the information used to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by collecting supporting documentation from students who are selected for verification during FAFSA processing.  If you are selected for verification, you will receive notification from the Department of Education via the Student Aid Report.  The Student Financial Aid Office also notifies you about the verification process and may request additional documents.  You will find Verification Forms and instructions here.  Your financial aid package is conditional, and subject to change, until the verification process is completed and funds cannot be released to you. Once the verification review is complete, your Financial Aid Hold will be removed from your record.

Note: The following should only be used to estimate a contribution from income and assets. The actual amount used to determine financial aid eligibility will be calculated when the completed application is reviewed.

Student and Spouse Contribution from Earnings

Student and spouse's prior year income (2014 income for the 2015-2016 school year) is used to determine the amount expected as a contribution toward educational costs. Student Financial Aid, however, may make an exception when prior year earnings do not adequately reflect a student's current ability to contribute towards educational costs.

Generally, based on federal methodology for the 2015-2016 academic year, dependent students must contribute 50 percent of their prior year income less a $6,310 income protection allowance. Independent students without a spouse or child must contribute 50 percent of their prior year income less a $9,810 income protection allowance. For students who are married or are single parents, a portion of prior year income is also protected and viewed as meeting the living costs of the spouse/children.

Student and Spouse Contribution from Assets

Savings, trusts, bonds, property, etc. are assessed to determine if a contribution will be expected. An asset protection allowance, based on age and family size, is given to self-supporting students over 25 years-of-age and parents of dependent students. For the 2015-2016 academic year, dependent students do not receive an asset protection allowance and are expected to contribute 20 percent of total assets towards educational costs. Independent students with no children are expected to contribute 20 percent of assets, less the asset protection allowance.

When completing the financial aid application and estimating the amount of savings, students should allow for moving expenses, repayment of existing consumer debts, etc. so the savings amount will not be overstated.

Impact of Parents' Income

Due to the high cost of a health professions education, UCSF generally requires parental financial information for students who apply for Full Funding. The parents' financial situation does not affect the dollar amount of financial aid but does effect the type of aid offered.

Financial Aid Packaging Policy

Basic Funding
Students who qualify for Basic Funding may receive a minimum grant and are eligible to apply for loans, including the federal Perkins and Direct (Stafford) loans.

Full Funding
Students who qualify for Full Funding also receive additional grant and scholarship funds, university loans over and above those available to basic funding students, and funding from Health and Human Services (HHS) programs (including both loans and scholarships), depending on eligibility.

Free Money
Grants and scholarships are "free money" and do not have to be repaid. These are awarded to the extent permitted by guidelines and funding levels. The level of grant and scholarship aid can vary from year to year (or within a single year) depending on your eligibility, the availability of funds, and/or your budget. The information you provide allows us to determine a targeted level for awarding "free money." This is known as equity packaging.

Loans are awarded after we have determined your eligibility for the free money.  Subsidized university loans, federal Perkins Loans, and HHS Loans are awarded next, based on eligibility. If the combination of grants and subsidized loans does not meet your financial need, additional funds can be obtained through a variety of unsubsidized loans. 

From time to time, standard budgets must be adjusted as a result of mandatory fee changes, required enrollment period changes, University housing cost adjustments, and so forth. To the extent possible, awards are re-adjusted to equity when this occurs.

If you receive additional loans and/or grants and scholarships (other than those awarded or administered by our office) after your aid is packaged, adjustments may be needed to avoid causing an over award. Depending on the additional aid and existing policies, loans and/or unmet need are generally reduced first.

Awarding Philosophy

Financial aid is awarded to students who have demonstrated financial need, in accordance with federal and UCSF policies.  Financial aid is awarded based on the concept of equity packaging.

Due to the high cost of a health professions education, UCSF generally requires parental financial information for students who apply for Full Funding. A student’s eligibility is based on his/her own financial situation, as well as the financial strength of the parents of the student. The parents' financial situation does not affect the dollar amount of financial aid but does affect the type of aid offered.

Students who come from lower-income families qualify for greater percentages of grant and scholarship funding. The equity (free money portion) can change from year to year based on the total amount of dollars available from all sources and the number of students who are eligible for equity funding. Sources include the University Student Aid Program (USAP), Professional Fee return to aid, departmental funding and scholarship dollars.

Students who do not submit parental information (or who submit parent information but are found to be ineligible for equity packaging) receive a minimum grant award. The minimum grant is based on available funds from professional fee and USAP monies.

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