Financial Aid / Student Financial Services

Financial Aid: How to Apply

The MOST IMPORTANT process in applying for financial aid is filing the "FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID", (FAFSA) application. The U.S. Department of Education has posted the application online, which allows to apply for federal student aid electronically from your home computer or from a computer at a central location such as a high school, post secondary school, public library, or local college or university. FAFSA applications are available at the beginning of December each year. You may also pick up the form at any university or college financial aid office, high school, or public library. FAFSA forms will not be accepted before January 1.



In order to be eligible for any form of federal, state, or institutional financial aid, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • You must be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • You must have a valid social security number.
  • You must be admitted into a degree-seeking program. (You may apply for aid before you are admitted but you must be admitted before aid can be disbursed to you.)
  • If you are a male of at least 18 years of age, you must be registered with Selective Service System.
  • To retain eligibility you must maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • To receive most types of aid at La Sierra, you must be at least a half-time student. If you plan to drop credits; you must contact your financial aid counselor, since your aid may be subject to reduction or cancellation.


CHECKLIST: Before You Begin, Make Sure You Have The Following Items:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) see #1 and 2 below  (submit to Federal processor)
  • Additional documents may be requested
    • Your Social Security card and Driver's License
    • Parent Information Form (PLUS Loan applicants only)
    • Verification Worksheet and Federal IRS tax forms and W-2 forms
    • Non-taxable Income Verification
    • Resident Alien Card or other evidence of citizenship
    • W-2 forms or other records of income earned in previous year (i.e. 2008 for 2009-2010, etc).
    • Your (and your spouse's, if married) federal income tax return for previous year (i.e. 2008 for 2009-2010, etc). Use estimates if tax returns not yet filed.
    • Your parent's (if you are a dependent student) Federal Income Tax Return for previous year (i.e. 2008 for 2009-2010, etc). Use estimates if tax returns not yet filed.
    • Records of other untaxed income received in previous year (i.e. 2008 for 2009-2010, etc) such as welfare benefits, social security benefits, AFDC or ADC, veteran's benefits, military or clergy allowances, or tax deferred annuity (W-2 form).
    • Current bank statements
    • Business or farm records, if you or your parent(s) own a business or farm
    • Records of stocks, bonds, and other investments



Start by completing the FAFSA on the Web.

  • Take your time filling out the FAFSA. Read the directions and call us if you have any questions. Have your parents carefully fill out their sections, if applicable. (The FAFSA instructions will determine whether your parents must complete the form and will indicate where to fill in their information.) It is best if you and your parents complete your Federal Income Tax Returns before completing the FAFSA so you can use exact tax information, if you can meet the March 2 Cal Grant deadline. If not, estimate the income and tax information on the FAFSA. If your application is selected for Verification (see page 1 of your Student Aid Report to see whether your application is selected) you must submit copies of your own as well as your parents' IRS tax forms and W-2 forms (if their information is included on the FAFSA.)
  • Verification of 2012 IRS Income Tax Return
  • Make or print out a copy of your completed FAFSA and submit electronically. They will calculate your family's ability to pay for college, using standard methodology required by the Federal government, and forward your information electronically to La Sierra University. When this report and other required forms and documents are received and you have been admitted to La Sierra, your application will be processed. If you would like an early estimate, mail an additional copy of the FAFSA to the Office of Enrollment Services at La Sierra University. Request an early estimate.

Be sure to read your mail! After submitting your FAFSA, you will get a variety of documents and requests in the mail. Read each one carefully and respond appropriately. Contact the Office of Student Financial Services at (951) 785-2175 or email us at, if you have questions.

Starting in April, we will begin mailing out Award Letters to students, with completed aid applications, who have been admitted to La Sierra. The letter will describe the financial aid package you are being offered for the next academic year. It also will give you information about how financial aid is disbursed at the beginning of school and how to remain eligible throughout the year.

  • Financial aid awards are made for one year at a time. Remember to reapply each year, before the annual March 2 priority funding date. Current aid recipients (other than senior level students) will be mailed a financial aid application in January for the following year.




  • FAFSA applications may be completed between January 1 and June 30 for Federal Pell and Federal Stafford loan consideration.
  • FAFSA data must be received by the February 15 priority deadline. Funds are limited for these programs, and are awarded on a first come, first awarded basis. La Sierra does not guarantee that all students that apply through the FAFSA by February 15 will receive these funds.
  • Applications received after this date will be considered on a funds available basis only. Estimations are acceptable on the applications. Necessary corrections can be made further down the line using the Student Aid Report, (SAR). Contact your Financial Aid Office before making any correction.



  • If you applied for federal aid last year you may be able to shorten your application process by completing a renewal application online. To do this you must first obtain an Electronic Access Code (EAC). Go to FAFSA on the Web to request your EAC.

Student Aid Report (SAR)/Confirmation of Your Application:

  • Approximately 4 weeks after you submit your FAFSA, you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a two-part confirmation form for you to review. Read the instructions on the SAR carefully. If corrections are required, you may correct your application by completing part 2 of the SAR and returning it to the federal processor. If have questions about your SAR or about whether you need to correct your SAR, please go to Office of Financial Aid.

Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)

  • If all your data is complete and correct your SAR will include an EFC. Your EFC is calculated based on a formula established by Congress. This is the index that is used to establish your eligibility for many types of need based aid (Federal Pell Grant, Federal Stafford Loan, etc.).

Cost Of Attendance (COA)

  • Every educational institution is responsible for establishing a basic Cost of Attendance (COA), which may include tuition and fees, housing, food, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Budgets at La Sierra are not individualized for each student, but are assigned according to the residency and class level (i.e. on campus, off campus). Costs such as tuition and fees are established based on the assessed rate of 12 units per quarter. Other costs, such as housing, food, transportation, books and supplies, and personal expenses, are established based on the average reasonable costs for those areas. Your individual costs may be more or less depending on the number of credits you register for, your area of study, and the lifestyle that you choose to establish.

Financial Need/Award Of Need Based Aid

  • Your eligibility for need based aid is calculated by subtracting your EFC along with any outside resources (i.e. Veteran benefits, scholarships, tuition waivers, fellowships, etc) from your COA. This gives the financial aid office your financial need at La Sierra.

    COA - EFC - other resources = FINANCIAL NEED


  • If your EFC and other resources are less than the COA, then you may have financial need, and every effort is made to meet that need with a package that may include grants, work-study, and loans.

Cal Grant Apply