Award and Planning Guide

The Financial Aid & Scholarship Department at California State University, Northridge is pleased to offer you financial assistance. Financial aid is any grant, loan, scholarship or work-study funds used to meet the cost of education. The Award and Planning Guide elaborates on the types of funds available, average costs, and other important information regarding the rules, terms, conditions and procedures relevant to you as a CSUN financial aid student. All disbursed funds are for the support and completion of your academic goals and should be used accordingly.


A financial aid award notice is sent to your CSUN Gmail after you complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your aid eligibility is determined using federally standardized calculations. Your financial aid package is designed to assist you in meeting college costs at CSUN. For specific aid information, please look at your award details on the myNorthridge Portal. If you have any questions about your aid or responsibilities, please contact the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.

Memorandum of understanding

By accepting any financial aid — scholarships, student loan disbursements, payments and otherwise — certify that have read the current Award and Planning Guide and authorize CSUN to automatically transfer, from financial aid, the amounts necessary to pay tuition and other fees/obligations owed to the university. If a recipient of the Cal Grant B Access Grant, may rescind this authorization with written notification to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.  Also understand that financial aid award amounts are contingent on availability of funds, which are sometimes subject to change.  Per CSUN guidelines,  may not receive financial aid (Federal Pell Grant, Cal Grant, Federal Direct Loans, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study) from another institution while receiving financial aid at CSUN.

Mission statement

The Financial Aid & Scholarship Department will provide financial assistance and guidance through appropriate communication and learning activities that will empower our students to fulfill their academic aspirations. As members of the university community, we will collaborate with other campus departments and the community through partnerships to provide outreach and access services, scholarship resources and educational work experiences to our student population. We will strive to teach responsibility through loan counseling and budgeting workshops, while requiring satisfactory academic progress to promote responsible citizenship.

Payments and Refunds

What is the best way to access my financial aid information and view my financial aid and tuition charges?

  1. Log in to the myNorthridge Portal, and select the Financial Matters tab. Then, go to the Financial Aid Essentials box, and select the Check your awards link.
  2. To view account details, return to the Financial Matters tab and select View Account Information in the My Financial Obligations box.
Award Summary Example


Does my financial aid award amount display on the account information page?

Your financial aid award amount will display as "Anticipated Aid" on the myNorthridge Portal. If the anticipated aid is sufficient to cover your charges, then you will not have to pay fees out of pocket in advance. If the amount is not enough, you must pay the difference from your own funds or risk removal from your classes. Visit University Cash Services for information on how tuition and other fees are determined and how to pay them.

Fees for on-campus parking, a CSUN ID, late registration, orientation or student housing deposits are not deducted from your financial aid funds. You may use any funds from your financial aid refund to pay those charges directly.

How do I activate my award?

Your grants are automatically accepted on your behalf. If you have been awarded Federal Work-Study, you will be sent a separate email with instructions on how to find a work-study job and earn the funds you have been awarded.

Before you decide whether to accept your loan, use the tools in the Financial Literacy section to determine whether you need these funds, or if you should accept a lower amount of loan funds than the maximum offered.

To receive your loan funds, you must activate your loan by accepting it on the myNorthridge Portal. If you need help accepting your loan, please refer to our loan acceptance tutorial for instructions.

If you need less than the loan amount offered, you may indicate the amount you want in the column labeled "Accepted." You cannot increase the amount since you have been offered the maximum.

If you do not want a student loan, please check the "Decline" box on the "Financial Aid – Accept My Student Loan" page. Loans are not processed without your approval.

How do I receive my funds?

Once your award is activated and you have submitted all required documents and established enrollment in sufficient units to be eligible for a payment, CSUN begins preparing financial aid funds for disbursement. Funds are credited to your CSUN student account usually 10 days before classes start and then weekly thereafter if you have not already been paid. All funds in excess of any University charges, such as registration fees and/or housing charges are refunded to the student via direct deposit through the university's eRefund process. If you do not sign up for an eRefund, a financial aid balance check is mailed to the home address listed on the SOLAR Student Center. If your financial aid is applied towards costs but does not cover all of your charges, University Cash Services will place a charge on your account. You should monitor your student account on a weekly basis. You must use your own money to pay any balance due.

If you want to get your refund quickly and safely, sign up for eRefund. Questions about the charges on your bill or checks lost in the mail should be directed to University Cash Services at (818) 677-8000, option 1. Questions about how your financial aid was applied to your account should be directed to Student Accounting at (818) 677-8000, option 2.

What if my home address has changed?

Review your current address on record in the Personal Information section of the SOLAR Student Center and make any necessary changes as soon as possible. If you want to get your refund faster, sign up for eRefund.

What can I use my financial aid money for?

When you signed the FAFSA, you agreed to use financial aid to pay the costs of attending an institution of higher education. Your signature legally binds you to the terms of the "Statement of Educational Purpose." Additionally, your financial aid award notice lists other provisions related to electronically applying financial aid funds to tuition fee, campus housing costs and other charges. For more details, please contact the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.

What if I'm a scholarship recipient?

Checks made payable to the university, or to both the student and the university, must be processed by the Scholarship office. Funds will not be disbursed prior to the first week of school. Scholarships received during the semester will be processed and disbursed within two weeks of receipt. Unless the donor indicates otherwise, all scholarship checks made payable to the university will be divided into two semester payments. Funds awarded by campus departments, colleges or programs must be coordinated with the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department and disbursed in the same manner as other financial aid. Please be aware that any scholarships or academic awards may reduce your eligibility for other financial aid.

How and when do I pick up an award in person?

There are a few types of awards that must be picked up by the student in person, such as some outside scholarship checks and private education loans. If this applies to you, you will receive a notice in your CSUN Gmail account with instructions on when and where to pick up the check. In these cases, tuition, fees and other financial obligations may not be deducted beforehand — be prepared to settle these obligations when you pick up your check. You must be enrolled in sufficient units to pick up your check at Bayramian Hall 100R. If you do not satisfy these requirements, your aid may be canceled and you must make immediate arrangements to pay any university costs at that time.

Revisions to Financial Aid

Your financial aid may be interrupted, reduced or canceled based on a number of factors, including drug law violations; enrollment status; changes to your FAFSA after you receive an award; changes to your cost of attendance; satisfactory academic progress requirements; financial aid at more than one school; outside resources; repeat course work; loan entrance counseling and Master Promissory Note requirements; and withdrawal from the University. For further explanation, visit the What Affects My Aid? section under Financial Aid Basics.

For information on program eligibility requirements for students in special groups, such as AB 540, veterans, intrasystem or concurrent visitors, cross enrollment, international, resident assistants, credential students, and those approved for a study abroad or exchange program, review Special Groups.

For federal, state, and institutional grant program eligibility requirements visit the Grants section under Financial Aid Basics.

For scholarship information, visit the Scholarships section.

For federal loan program eligibility requirements, visit the Loans section under Financial Aid Basics.

For Federal Work-Study program requirements, visit the "Work-Study" section under "Financial Aid Basics."


Eligibility for financial aid is based on enrollment.  Federal Regulations require that Federal Title IV funds to be returned if a student completely withdraws from a period of enrollment. These rules assume that a student earns their aid based on the time enrolled. Unearned aid, the amount of financial aid received that exceeds the amount the student has earned (with the exception of Federal Work-Study), must be returned. Unearned aid may be subject to repayment.

During the first 60 percent of the enrollment period, a student "earns" aid in direct proportion to the length of time they remain enrolled. That is, the percentage of time the student remains enrolled is the percentage of aid the student earns for that period. A student who remains enrolled beyond the 60 percent point earns all aid for the period. Check the schedule of classes for exact dates. Read more information about withdrawals.

Medical Withdrawal

Students seeking a medical withdrawal must complete the necessary forms from Admissions and Records. The Financial Aid & Scholarship Department is informed of all approved medical withdrawals. Medical withdrawals should be considered carefully. Financial aid repayments may be required for any unearned funds. Please be aware of the following medical withdrawal consequences:

  • Your Work-Study employers will be notified and Work-Study jobs will be terminated.
  • Your tuition fee refund resulting from a medical withdrawal will be used to cover repayment of federal Stafford loans and other aid programs.
  • Your satisfactory academic progress requirements for financial aid will be affected. A grade of "W," even in cases of medical withdrawal, will count as units attempted with zero units earned.

For more information, read the withdrawal policy.

Students may view CSUN's refund policy online by visiting the University Cash Services website or by calling (818) 677-8000.


How is my financial need determined?

Financial need is determined by subtracting your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from your Cost of Attendance. The federal government establishes the exact calculations used to determine your family's expected contribution. The amount calculated by the Department of Education is based on the information you provide on the FAFSA. This standardization means your contribution is assessed the same way no matter what school you attend. Actual awards may vary by school because of the differences in cost. Your Cost of Attendance is based on a federal formula that includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and meals, transportation, miscellaneous expenses and loan fees. Most of these expenses are based on the average expenses of students attending CSUN. You may be able to live less expensively, but you should not expect to live an extravagant life as a student.  The CSUN "Financial Literacy" program provides tools and resources to help you learn to live within the established Cost of Attendance.

What if I need more money?

Financial aid covers basic costs of attendance and living. Students who plan and budget well can live within the established budgeting guidelines. Although additional loans are available, it is wise to first consider where you can reduce costs. For example, sharing a room, taking public transportation, buying an economical car, choosing a less expensive cell phone plan, making meals at home, and attending free, on-campus entertainment can all greatly reduce spending. Financial aid counselors are available to help you budget your financial aid funds. If you have unusual costs, such as medical or child care, you may discuss it with the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.

Special Circumstances

At CSUN, we understand that there are various circumstances that may impact a student and their family’s financial situation which is not reflected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  As a result of these circumstances, the Financial Aid Office may evaluate special circumstances on a case-by-case basis. In those cases, the financial aid office may recalculate financial aid eligibility based on a current year estimate. Examples of exceptional circumstances include unemployment of a parent/spouse, divorce/separation, exceptional medical or child care cost. 

If you have a special circumstance that changed your financial situation and you need additional assistance, we have an appeal process that will take your special circumstances into consideration. Appeal forms are usually available the beginning of the fall semester. Students with extreme circumstances, such as death of a parent or spouse, are welcome to discuss their financial situation with a financial aid counselor on a walk-in basis during normal walk-in hours.

Scholarships offer another funding option.  On- and off-campus flagship scholarship opportunities are posted online in the Scholarships section, in the hallway outside of Bayramian Hall 140, on the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department’s Facebook page, as well as inside the Scholarship Office in Bayramian Hall 130.  To apply for on-campus scholarships, you must first complete a general application (profile) on the myMatador Scholarships portal.  Once you submit your general application, you will receive a list of opportunities you may apply to. If you need assistance looking for scholarships throughout the year, visit the Scholarship Office in Bayramian Hall 130.

Where do I go for budgeting help?

Living on a budget is not always a simple thing, but it is an important life skill that will make a difference in your future. For additional information, visit the "Financial Literacy" section under Resources.

How do I apply for a Stafford or PLUS loan?

If you are a nonresident student applying for federal direct loans, you may wish to research the availability of state grant assistance from your state of legal residence before applying for a loan. View a list of U.S. state agencies that administer grants and take note of each state's deadline.

Financial Aid Repayment

A reduction in units or withdrawal from the university may require you to pay back any financial aid received. Before deciding to reduce units, discuss the possibility with a Financial Aid & Scholarship Department staff member. They will let you know how such changes may impact your financial aid. If you are required to repay financial aid, repayment is due immediately to the university and may affect future enrollment or ability to receive university services.


You have the right to know:

  • What financial aid programs are available at CSUN.
  • The application deadlines for each of the available programs.
  • The cost to attend CSUN, including tuition, fees, books, room and board, personal expenses and transportation.
  • Every applicant will have his or her application evaluated using the same system of need analysis.
  • How your financial aid is determined, including what earnings, parental contribution and other assets are considered in the calculation of your expected family contribution (EFC).
  • What portion of your calculated financial need will be met.
  • How much of your financial aid is comprised of loans and how much is made up of grants. If the award is a loan, you have the right to know the amount that must be repaid, the interest rate, the amount of each payment and the repayment schedule.
  • How your financial aid will be paid.
  • The repayment and refund policy.
  • How the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department determines whether you are accomplishing Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and what happens if you are not.
  • The information pertaining to your financial aid is kept confidential.
  • A full and clear explanation of financial aid decisions. You may appeal decisions if you disagree with them or if your financial situation changes significantly.
  • How scholarships, fellowships, tuition fee waivers, vocational rehabilitation, veterans benefits, residence advisor benefits, stipends and other financial resources will be coordinated with any financial aid you are awarded.

You have the responsibility to:

  • Complete all applications and forms accurately by the established deadline.
  • Comply with all financial aid application deadlines.
  • Provide correct information. Inaccurate information can cause delays in processing your application or result in repayment of aid already paid out. Misrepresented information on financial aid applications and forms is a violation of federal law and may be considered a criminal offense.
  • Read and understand all documents you are asked to sign and keep copies for your records.
  • Accept responsibility for all agreements you sign.
  • Return any additional documentation and new information requested by the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department.
  • Notify the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department of any increase in resources, including scholarships, fellowships, stipends, awards, income, assets, parental contribution and other benefits.
  • Seek advice from a tax professional to determine if any portion of grants, fellowships or scholarships are considered taxable income.
  • Register with the Selective Service when required to do so.
  • Read the federal disclosures by viewing it online.
  • Notify the CSUN Financial Aid & Scholarship Department if you are receiving or plan to receive financial aid at another school. Students who enroll at two or more schools during the same semester, including overlapping terms, or summer term are eligible to receive financial aid at only one institution for that term. To receive aid at another school, you must decline your aid at CSUN by submitting a Status Change Notification form. Exception: Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOG) does not impact aid at CSUN.

When you accept Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans, it is your responsibility to:

  • Complete loan entrance counseling (LEC) and sign an electronic Master Promissory Note (MPN).
  • Complete loan exit counseling for Direct loans before you graduate, transfer, drop below half-time enrollment or withdraw from CSUN.
  • Notify your lender or loan servicer whenever your address, phone number, email or name changes.
  • Repay the loan you have borrowed according to the terms of repayment, or make timely arrangements for forbearance, deferments, or alternate payment plans with the holder of your loan when you are unable to meet repayment terms.

When you receive Federal Work-Study, it is your responsibility to:

  • Find an authorized work-study job through the job database used by the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department

When you are hired for a Federal Work-Study job, it is your responsibility to:

  • Complete the necessary hiring forms.
  • Adhere to the arranged work schedule.
  • Correctly report the hours you work.
  • Keep track of your fall semester earnings to ensure you don't earn more than half of your academic year award in the fall semester.
  • Carefully monitor your earnings so you do not exceed your award for the academic year.
  • Remain enrolled at least halftime while employed as a work-study student.


Campus Departments Resources

List of campus department links and phone numbers
Campus Departments
Admissions and Records
For questions regarding expected graduation date, enrollment verification, grades, transcripts, withdrawals, adds and drops
(818) 677-3700
General campus information
For phone numbers of other campus departments
(818) 677-1200
Student Accounting
For questions regarding charges on your student account, previous semester outstanding balances and tax information on Form 1098T
(818) 677-8000, option 2
Klotz Student Health Center
For questions regarding medical withdrawals and vaccination holds
(818) 677-3666
Student parking information
For questions regarding student parking fees, bicycle registration, parking lot maps, parking permit dispenser locations, parking enforcement and traffic safety
(818) 677-2157
University Cash Services
For questions regarding payments received and checks disbursed
(818) 677-8000, option 1


Helpful Web Resources