How Financial Aid Works

We understand that applying for and receiving financial aid can be an overwhelming process. Therefore, we offer this quick guide to get a better understanding of how financial aid works at San Francisco State University.

Applying for Financial Aid
This page provides an overview of the financial aid application process, using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California DREAM Act. 
Special Circumstances

At San Francisco State University, we take the time to personally consider each individual family's financial circumstances. We make every effort to be as accommodating as possible when determining your financial circumstances due to extenuating circumstances beyond your control.  A financial aid petition for special circumstances is a way for a student and his/her family to communicate with the Office of Student Financial Aid about financial or household changes that could not be reflected or explained on the FAFSA. Click here to download the form.

​​What we will generally consider:

Loss or reduction of income, including but not limited to loss of employment, reduction of pay, death of a parent or spouse, and reduction/loss of child support; Divorce or separation; One time only income distributions; High out of pocket medical and/or dental expenses; K-12 private school tuition, or tax liens; Costs associated with a natural disaster​.

What we do not consider:

Changes to assets or inability to liquidate assets; Loss of overtime or bonus; Bankruptcy, foreclosures or collection costs associated with outstanding debt; Consumer debt (credit cards, car payments, loans, etc.); Lottery or gambling winnings or losses; One-time income used for non-life essential items (e.g. family vacation); Parents (step parents or biological parents) who do not wish to provide support; Marital separation where the parents are still living together.

Receiving and Reviewing your Awards

After submitting a FAFSA or CA Dream App and turning in all necessary documents, you should receive your financial aid award offer. But what does all of it mean? This page will provide information on how to accept your awards, how awards are allocated, and how your aid will be used to pay for school. 

Financial Aid Disbursements

This page provides general information on disbursements, and helps explain the "Account Activity" page on your Student Center.