Skip to main content

Financial Tips for Students

File Your Applications On Time Each Year

Don't miss any assistance opportunities.

File your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application (if AB540 eligible)  by the May 2 deadline. When you file your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application on time each year, you'll be considered for the best types of financial aid.  

Submit Required Documents Before the Deadline

Submit any requested documents and information to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office by the May 1 deadline.

May 1 is the deadline to provide additional required documents such as verification worksheets and income tax returns, or to resolve processing holds.

If verification information is submitted or holds are resolved after May 1, funding is limited to loans, Federal Pell Grant, and Cal Grants only, based on eligibility.

  • Review your UC San Diego e-mail account often, so you won't miss important requests for additional information and documents to complete your application.

  • Access your financial aid status using the Financial Aid tool to see what additional information and documents are requested.

Develop and Keep to a Budget

Think about what you earn now and what you may earn in the future.

  • Develop a budget of estimated and actual expenses for the school year. Try the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office's Budget Worksheet (PDF) designed for this purpose.

  • Review UC San Diego's Budgets and Costs of Attendance to estimate your educational costs.

Pursue Scholarships

Scholarship opportunities are available to all students and do not require repayment.

  • If you're an entering first-year student or are transferring this year, you've already applied for UC scholarships by completing the admission application.

  • If you're a continuing student, complete the Continuing Student Scholarship Application using the Financial Aid tool starting in early December. These 1-year awards range from $500 to $5,000. You can also apply for outside agency scholarships.

Keep Borrowing to a Minimum

Loans can help cover your educational costs, but loans aren't always the best option. Try part-time employment or cutting your personal expenses to graduate with the least amount of debt.

  • Before you borrow, consider your future earning potential. Use the Repayment Estimator to explore repayment options based on your potential income. Also contact your loan servicer to explore the best repayment option for you after graduation.

  • Borrow only what you need for school and living expenses.

Consider a Job

If your schedule permits, part-time employment can help cover costs and help keep borrowing to a minimum.

  • Visit the Career Services Center for a list of available on- and off-campus jobs.

  • Find a balance that works for you; most undergraduates can work 10-20 hours per week during the school year.

  • Work and save money during the summer to reduce your need to work during the school year.

  • Read more about the benefits of student employment.

  • Find out more about jobs and internships.

Take Advantage of TRIP

TRIP, UC San Diego's deferred payment plan, lets you make installment payments on your student account so you don't have to pay large amounts all at once.

About TRIP

Receive Tax Deductions or Credits for Educational Expenses

You or your parents might be eligible to recover some of your out-of-pocket college expenses (typically tuition and fees) if grants and scholarships don't fully cover them.

Do Your Research

For more information, see these resources:



Higher Education videos for Financial Aid & Student Services.

FA TV Videos


UC YouTube Resources

Videos focus on applying for financial aid and offer tips on other methods of financing your education.

UC Videos

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? Use this resource to find answers to all your frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions