Which Application is Right for You? FAFSA vs. CADAA

By Inland Empire Success | June 20, 2024

Choosing the right financial aid application is crucial for securing the funds you need for college. Depending on your specific qualifications, you will need to apply with either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). Here’s a guide to help you determine which application is right for you. 

Apply with the FAFSA if You Are: 

A U.S. Citizen: If you are a citizen of the United States, you should complete the FAFSA. This application will help you access federal financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and student loans. 

A Permanent Resident (Green Card): If you hold a Green Card, you are considered an eligible non-citizen for federal financial aid purposes. Completing the FAFSA will allow you to access the same types of aid available to U.S. citizens. 

An Eligible Non-Citizen: This category includes individuals with specific visas, such as T-visa holders, and other classifications that make you eligible for federal financial aid. The FAFSA is your gateway to securing these funds. 

Apply with the CADAA if You Are: 

Undocumented (with or without DACA): If you are an undocumented student, whether or not you have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, the CADAA is the appropriate application for you. This application will help you access state financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and fellowships. 

Have a U-Visa: U-Visa holders are eligible to complete the CADAA. This visa is for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. 

Have Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Students with Temporary Protected Status can apply for financial aid through the CADAA. TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries who are present in the United States. 

Start Your Journey: 

Choosing the correct application ensures that you maximize your financial aid opportunities and receive the support you need for your education. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen, the FAFSA is your go-to application. If you are undocumented, have a U-Visa, or hold Temporary Protected Status, the CADAA is the right choice for you.  

By understanding which application to complete, you can take the first step toward a successful and financially supported college experience. For more detailed information and guidance on each application, visit our Financial Resources page.