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Packaging Policy Prospective Undergraduates

How Packaging Works

  • Award packaging covers your financial need with a mix of different types of financial aid.

  • "Need" is the difference between the UC San Diego cost of attendance (your estimated costs) and your expected family contribution (for 2024-25 your Student Aid Index), as determined by your FAFSA or Dream Act Application.

  • If you're eligible for financial aid, your need will be funded by various sources on a first-come, first-served basis, based on fund availability. Funds are distributed in the following sequence:

    1. Other financial assistance, including veterans benefits, college fee waivers, and ROTC funds

    2. Scholarships from UC San Diego and outside agencies

    3. Grants

      • Federal Pell Grant

      • Cal Grant for California Residents

    4. Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS)

    5. Federal Work-Study or University Loan

    6. UC grants: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Opportunity Grant (OG), and Grant-in-Aid (GIA)

*for more information on how outside scholarships may impact any existing financial aid offers please visit our Scholarships page*


While non-California residents for tuition purposes are not eligible for university grants/loans, eligible students have other funding options available to assist with education costs. Potential funds include Federal financial aid such as the Pell Grant, Work-Study, Direct loans, in addition to limited institutional scholarships.


If you are eligible for VA educational benefits like the Chapter 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill or the Cal Veteran College Fee waiver, the UC San Diego Veterans Affairs Office (VAO) can help you utilize them. Please send a PDF copy of your eligibility document(s) to the UC San Diego Veterans Affairs Office at, or call (858) 534-0077 with any questions about using benefits at UC San Diego. You can contact the VA to inquire about your eligibility for educational benefits – UC San Diego does not determine VA benefits eligibility.

File Your FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION by the May 2nd extended deadline

You must file your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application by May 2 to be eligible for Work-Study, UC grants, or new Cal Grant awards.

How UC San Diego Determines Financial Aid Awards

Learn about UC San Diego's philosophy and practices for awarding financial aid.

UC San Diego awards financial aid based on need. Need-based financial aid reduces barriers to higher education for students and families who could not otherwise afford college costs. This need-based packaging philosophy assures that:

  • Students with similar circumstances are treated equally.

  • "Need" is the only criteria used to award most undergraduate financial aid (only about 4% of total financial aid funds available are not based solely on need)

Financial need is the difference between UC San Diego estimated cost of attendance and your expected family contribution:

Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution*
= Financial Need

*2024-25: Student Aid Index

Note: Non-California Residents pay Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition in addition to charges paid by in-state students. The university is unable to provide university grant support for this additional tuition cost included in the financial need. Federal loans, which must be repaid by you or your family, may help cover some or all of this cost. Any remaining amount remains the family’s responsibility.

Your expected family contribution (EFC) / Student Aid Index (SAI) is determined by the U.S. Department of Education, using formulas determined by Congress and written into public law. Your own EFC is calculated based on the information you provide in your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Please note:

  • To secure the best funds available, you must file your FAFSA by May 2 and submit any additional required documents by June 15 for continuing students and July 1 for entering first year and transfer students.

  • Limited funding is available. If you're eligible for financial aid, your need will be funded by various sources on a first-come, first-served basis, based on fund availability.

Paying for your education is a partnership among you, your parent(s), UC San Diego, the state of California, and the federal government. To help achieve the goal of equity, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office assumes that:

  • Parents of dependent undergraduates will contribute to their child's education to the extent of their ability.

  • All students will work and/or borrow to help finance the costs of attendance. A set amount of self-help (which may include loans and work-study) is included in every student's package before campus-based grants are awarded. The set amount of this self-help increases as you progress in your education.

  • You and your family will pursue and obtain any outside financial aid for which you qualify, including veterans benefits, ROTC funds, and outside agency scholarships.