Federal Aid Programs


CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Applications have now opened for the $500 Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant from the CARES Act for emergency financial assistance if you experienced COVID-19 related expenses. This is a grant that does not need to be repaid and will not affect your future financial aid eligibility. This grant is currently available only for Spring 2020 students, funds are limited and awarded on first-come, first-serve basis.

For the HEERF (CARES Act) grant, students must:

  • Be currently enrolled in Spring 2020 courses (or already successfully completed a Spring 2020 course).
    • If you have dropped ALL of your Spring courses, you are not eligible.

Please make sure to complete any outstanding 2019-20 financial requirements as soon as possible, as your HEERF application cannot be processed until you do so.

Deadline to apply for Spring 2020: we have extended the deadline to July 31, 2020 at 5pm (or until the funding runs out, whichever comes first).

Please note: if you have already applied and received an award for Spring 2020, please do not apply again. At this time, students cannot receive multiple awards.

If you meet all of the requirements above, you may submit the request form here.

Pell Grants and SEOG Grants

The Federal Pell Grant Program and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (SEOG) provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Pell Grants are entitlements that are available to all who qualify. SEOG grants are based on first-come, first-served with the greatest amount of financial need.

Grant amounts are dependent on: the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) as calculated by completing the FAFSA; the cost of attendance (as determined by Cypress College); the student’s enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less. Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

Financial need is determined by the U.S. Department of Education using a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the financial information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to determine the family EFC.

The fundamental elements in this standard formula are the student’s income (and assets if the student is independent), the parents’ income and assets (if the student is dependent), the family’s household size, and the number of family members (excluding parents) attending postsecondary institutions.

The EFC is the sum of: (1) a percentage of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes) and (2) a percentage of net assets (assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance). Different assessment rates and allowances are used for dependent students, independent students without dependents, and independent students with dependents. After filing a FAFSA, the student receives a Student Aid Report (SAR), or the institution receives an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which notifies the student if he or she is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and/or SEOG Grant and provides the student’s EFC.


An educational loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid, with interest. Grants, scholarships, work-study and other forms of gift aid typically cover the full cost of an education at Cypress College. However, some students find that they must supplement their savings with student loans.

Community colleges remain an affordable option for students. Loan debt and increasing loan default rates are concerning for Financial Aid Offices due to the impact it can have on the institution. As a result, the Cypress College Financial Aid Office has adopted the following loan procedures for student borrowers. These procedures were implemented due to increasing student loan debt for graduates who eventually earn a BA/BS degree. Therefore, Cypress College Financial Aid has a strict policy on established loan limits to (1) help students minimize debt, (2) help students keep aggregate loan eligibility available for when they transfer to four-year institutions, and (3) help improve financial literacy and responsibility so that future economic hardships and credit damage can be prevented.

The Cypress College Financial Aid Office strongly discourages students to borrow loans without first discussing their options with a Financial Aid Technician. Additionally, there are strictly enforced loan eligibility requirements at Cypress College:

  • Total loan debt (all institutions attended, past and present) cannot exceed $12,750 (dependent students) or $19,000 (independent students). Only students admitted to competitive Health Sciences programs may petition our loan maximum and request additional funding. Otherwise, these maximums are strictly enforced for all other majors and/or certificate programs at Cypress College.
  • Borrowers must have and maintain a 2.0 or higher cumulative grade point average at all times.
  • Borrowers must be enrolled in courses that meet major and/or general education requirements for a degree program. Excessive units for remedial courses, prerequisite courses for programs that have special admissions requirements, and excessive PE courses may not be eligible for loan funding.

As a last resort to assist with your college costs, the Direct Loan program offers lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than most consumer loans, making them an attractive way to finance your education instead of high interest credit cards. You can also deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest even if you don’t itemize deductions on your income tax return.

Few students can afford to pay for college without some form of education financing. Two-thirds (65.7%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduate with some debt, and the average student loan debt among graduating seniors at four-year institutions is $19,237 (excluding PLUS Loans but including Stafford, Perkins, state, college and private loans), according to the 2003-2004 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).

If you are interested in obtaining a loan, please contact Loan Coordinator Nishad Marathe at nmarathe@cypresscollege.edu.

We will be hosting online Loan workshops for Fall 2020, please contact Nishad to set up an appointment for one of the following dates:

  • Tuesday August 4, 2020 10:15 am – 11:45 am
  • Wednesday August 12, 2020 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Wednesday August 19, 2020 10:15 am – 11:45 am
  • Tuesday September 1, 2020 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Wednesday September 9, 2020 10:15 am – 11:45 am
  • Tuesday September 15, 2020 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Wednesday October 7, 2020 10:15 am – 11:45 am
  • Tuesday October 20, 2020 3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Tuesday November 10, 2020 10:15 am – 11:45 am

Work Study

The Federal Work-Study Program is funded and regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. Under the program, grants are provided to institutions to create job openings for eligible students. The program is administered on the Cypress College campus by the Financial Aid Office in accordance with federal regulations and North Orange County Community College District Guidelines.

1. How to Apply for Federal Work Study
Students interested in applying for the Federal Work Study program must fill out a work-study interest form by visiting the Financial Aid Office. All Federal Work Study jobs are coordinated by the Financial Aid Office and various campus departments. These positions are subject to change depending on the needs of the campus and amount of funding available.

2. Student Eligibility Criteria and Determination of Need
Under Federal regulations, a student may be selected for employment under the Federal Work-Study Program only if he/she meets all of the following requirements:

a. Enrolled in a minimum of 6 units.

b. A U.S. citizen, or in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a permanent resident.

c. Capable, in the opinion of the institution, of maintaining a good academic standing while employed under the program.

d. In need of earnings from such employment in order to pursue a course of study at the institution.

In determining a student’s financial need, the Financial Aid Office utilizes the FAFSA form submitted by the student. The budget includes tuition (if out-of-state), fees, books, supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. The student’s resources are then subtracted from his/her total budget. The resulting figure is the total amount of aid for which the student is eligible.

3. Notification of Students
Students who have requested Federal Work Study and have been granted funds will be notified by email with a link and instructions on how to apply for jobs using the jobX website.

4. The Hiring Process
Employment begins and ends in the Financial Aid Office, students must receive a referral form from the financial aid office before discussing any employment possibilities with any department.

5. Rate of Pay, Allocation, Hours
All Federal Work-Study students are paid at a rate consistent with current student assistant wages established by the District and based upon the level of the skills required for each position. Rate increases are determined by the increasingly advanced skills required to perform the job (upon approval by the Financial Aid Office), not by the length of time the student has been employed.

A student’s Work-Study Allocation is for one year beginning July 1st for returning students, the first day of the fall semester for new students, and ending May 30th for all students. Returning or continuing students must be rehired each year and may not continue working after May 30th until they have been awarded or rehired.


It takes time and energy to conduct a successful scholarship search, but it is well worth the effort when you are awarded a scholarship to help fund your higher education.

The best ways to find scholarships:

  1. Check with your high school counselor
  2. Check with your parent’s employer or organizations with which they are affiliated
  3. Check with organizations and businesses within your community
  4. Check with your college or university financial aid and/or scholarship office
  5. Surf the web

Types of Scholarships

Merit Based Scholarships: Awards based on academic performance and personal achievement.

Merit plus Need Scholarships
: Awards based on academic performance, personal achievement, and financial need.
Private Scholarships: Awards based on criteria set by a private, non-affiliated organization or individual.
Institutional Scholarships: Awards based on criteria set by the college or university. These awards can be merit based or plus need based.

Be Cautious of Scholarship Scams

The following are signs of a possible scholarship scam:
  1. If you are required to pay money to get a scholarship
  2. If you are guaranteed win a scholarship
  3. If they say, “everyone is eligible” or “free money”
  4. If you are contacted for a scholarship you never applied for
  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information on scholarship scams, visit: http://www.finaid.org/finaid/scams.html.

Scholarship Application Timelines

Applying for many scholarships can be done during any time of the year. However, different awards have different deadlines. For institutional awards, the deadlines are typically early Spring. You should check with your college or university to see what their established deadline is. Regardless, if you are late applying for an award one year, you should note the award and make every effort to reapply next year.

Tips for marketing yourself for a scholarship

Develop a great personal statement or essay

The essay is your ultimate communication tool-make a great impression. Think about this question: What makes you worthy of an investment as a student? Proofread, rewrite, and seek peer reviewers (writing is a process).

Develop a great academic transcript

Consistent academic performance is a good sign. A solid g.p.a. is desirable for most scholarships. A bad semester or year is not the end of the world—If you have overcome challenges, explain that in your personal statement. Otherwise, your application will be confusing to the evaluator.

Demonstrate evidence of leadership or service

Submit documentation of leadership, service, or character. Explain your situation and add flavor as to who you are as a person and aspiring student. Connect your personal story with your career or educational goal.
NEW: we have created an online version of the Scholarship wall we have in our office! Check it out here!