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California Middle-Class Scholarship

The Middle-Class Scholarship (MCS) program provides undergraduate students a scholarship to attend Cal Poly if their family incomes and assets are at or below $217,000. All California residents applying for financial aid are automatically considered for MCS. Award amounts will vary by student and by the institution.

Award amounts will be based on the institution's cost of attendance as well as:

  • Any other gift aid for which the student is eligible (i.e., federal, state, institutional or scholarship aid)
  • A self-help student contribution of $7,898 (applied to all students)
  • ​​​​​​​A parent contribution for dependent students with a household income of over $100,000

These three factors collectively are referred to as a student’s “available resources.” These amounts are deducted from the student’s total cost of attendance to determine the MCS award. Under this formula, award amounts will vary among students, as each award will reflect an individual student's costs and available resources.

Student Eligibility Requirements

To receive a MCS, you must meet the following criteria:

  • File the FAFSA or California Dream Application by March 2.
  • Be a California resident in an undergraduate or credential program.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or have AB 540 student status.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time and paying the CSU State University Tuition Fee.
  • Meet certain income and other financial aid standards.
  • Be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • Not be incarcerated.
  • Not be in default on a student loan.
  • Students may receive the MCS award for up to 12 quarter terms depending on Education Level when awarded.

How to Apply

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application.

Education Level Determination for Middle-Class Scholarships

The Middle-Class Scholarship has a lifetime eligibility limit which is established the first term you receive the grant. 

Cal Poly determines a student’s Education Level/Student Standing according to the number of quarter units earned, not the number of years a student has been attending. For the purposes of this calculation, earned units include transfer and Advanced Placement credit, in addition to Cal Poly units. This can differ from Academic Progress levels.

Education Level/Student Standing for MCS

Academic Level Quarter Units Earned
First-Year Fewer than 45 units
Sophomore 45 to 89 units
Junior 90 to 134 units
Senior 135 or more units