Financial aid •

January 28, 2022

University of California, Santa Barbara financial aid: a complete guide

Learn about University of California, Santa Barbara financial aid, including information about scholarships, loans, and grants.

University of California, Santa Barbara Financial Aid

Located in Santa Barbara, California, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of California’s top research institutions. Founded in 1891, UCSB now offers more than 200 degree and certificate programs and boasts multiple Nobel Prize winners among its alumni!

If you’re thinking about applying to UCSB but want to figure out how you’ll pay for college, here’s what you need to know.

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A snapshot look at the University of California, Santa Barbara 

The University of California, Santa Barbara, is one of the 10 campuses that are part of the University of California system. 

The school is a top research institution but also has a broad liberal arts program, providing students with a balanced education that can prepare them for their careers.

UCSB offers more than 200 different majors, degree programs, and other credentials, and the school boasts multiple Nobel Prize winners amongst its alumni and affiliates.

UCSB is located in Santa Barbara, California, so when students aren’t in class, they can spend time in the nearby city or enjoy the local beaches.

The school also has a huge number of student organizations and recreational opportunities. Students who like athletics can participate in intramural or interscholastic sports. They can also watch some of UCSB’s teams, including its national champion soccer team!

As a public school, UC Santa Barbara is typically less expensive than other schools for California residents. This makes it a top choice for students who want a high-quality education without paying a huge price.

Ranking: 28th in National Universities

Size: 26,179

Demographics: 44% male, 52% female, 4% other

Acceptance rate: 37%

Average GPA of accepted student: 4.17

Key dates and deadlines (2022):

Application: November 30

Financial aid deadline: March 2

A look at scholarships offered by the University of California, Santa Barbara 

If you need help paying for college, one of the best things that you can do is look for scholarships. Scholarships are free cash that you won’t usually have to pay back.

UCSB’s financial aid office has a website with information on the different scholarship programs that it offers to students. It also has a tool called ScholarshipUniverse that students can use to find scholarship opportunities that they might be eligible for. Departments at UCSB can add their programs to ScholarshipUniverse to make them easy to search and apply for. It’s like a one-stop shop for all your scholarship needs.

The ScholarshipUniverse process pulls information from your student record, making it a low-effort way to try to get some extra money to pay for school. All you have to do is find the scholarships you can apply for and fill out the applications!

Of course, you should also search directly with the different departments at UCSB as they don’t all use the system or may not add all of the available awards to ScholarshipUniverse. Do some research, and you may find a great opportunity.

Outside of the scholarships offered by UC Santa Barbara, you can apply for scholarships from other organizations. 

Lots of local businesses, community groups, and other organizations have scholarship programs for students from their communities. There are also special interest scholarships for almost everything you can think of—from make-up and horror writing to migraines and more!

For more on which scholarships you can apply for and how Mos can help, check out our financial aid tips and tricks.

Student loans

If your savings and scholarship money aren’t enough to cover the full cost of your UC Santa Barbara education, the next best thing to do is look for student loans. Borrowing money is a form of investing yourself—just make sure you’re prepared to repay those loans, plus interest.

The office of financial aid and scholarships has a website that describes all of the student loan programs available to its students.

For most students, the best source of funding is the Federal Direct Loan program. These loans come from the US government and come in 2 forms: subsidized and unsubsidized.

With subsidized loans, no interest will be added to your loan balance until after you leave school. Unsubsidized loans start building up interest right away. Both types of loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness and income-based repayment programs.

The state of California also offers special resident loan programs, such as the California Dream Loan program. You may be eligible if you’re an in-state student.

If federal loans and state loan programs aren’t enough to cover all the bills, the next place to look is a private lender. Many banks and other companies work with students to offer private student loans. However, these loans tend to be more expensive than government loans and aren’t eligible for programs like income-based repayment.

That means that it’s usually a good idea to max out government loans before turning to private student loans. 

If you want more information on finding the right student loan for you, look into our different plans, and work with an advisor who can help you find the best loans.


Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the best things every student can do to pay for college. 

The FAFSA is a universal application that makes you eligible for scholarships, federal grant programs, UCSB’s scholarships, and other types of financial assistance.

Completing the FAFSA usually means working with your parents or guardians to fill out the paperwork. You’ll have to provide information like the amount you’ve saved to pay for college and your family income. Based on this information, the government calculates an expected family contribution (EFC) to the cost of your education.

UCSB and the government use the information on your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for different types of aid. This includes things like subsidized loans, Pell grants, work-study programs, and scholarship aid.

The information in your FAFSA won’t be used against you when making an admission decision, so be sure to fill it out so that you can get help according to your financial need!

The FAFSA process starts on October 1 for financial aid awarded during the next academic year. If you plan to attend college right after high school, you can submit your FAFSA beginning in October of your senior year. 

You can submit the form anytime up to the end of June of the year you actually attend school. 

However, California has a March 2 deadline for many of its state programs. You should generally aim to fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can.


For more on applying for FAFSA, including important dates and how to make sure your application is successful, learn about our Mos application. It turns the FAFSA into an even simpler application that also makes you eligible for additional scholarships and grants.

University of California, Santa Barbara financial aid FAQs 

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about financial aid at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What is the University of California, Santa Barbara’s cost of attendance?

The cost of attendance at UCSB is $38,025 for California residents. Of that amount, $12,570 is tuition, and the remaining amount covers fees, room and board, and other costs.

Non-residents pay an additional $29,754 in tuition, making their total cost of attendance $67,779.

Cost of attendance

How many students pay no tuition at the University of California, Santa Barbara?

UCSB doesn’t publish information about how many students receive a full-ride scholarship at the school. But in 2020, 46% of students received need-based aid averaging $19,963 each.

Can out-of-state students receive financial aid?

Yes, out-of-state UCSB students are eligible to receive financial aid at UCSB. They just aren’t eligible for California-specific scholarships and loan programs, like the California Dream Loan program. 

Can you use financial aid for living expenses?

Yes, students at UCSB can use their financial aid money to pay for certain living expenses, such as room and board, as long as they are enrolled in classes full-time.

Do I need work-study to work at campus jobs?

UCSB has a variety of on-campus jobs available to students. While having work-study funds can help you get a job on-campus, there are also opportunities available for students without work-study aid.

What is the application process for financial aid at UCSB?

UCSB’s financial aid application process relies primarily on the FAFSA and California Dream applications. These 2 forms will make you eligible for most financial aid. You can also apply for scholarships through ScholarshipUniverse. 

Are there financial aid eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for FAFSA-based aid at UCSB, you must be in a degree-seeking program and be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen. For aid based on the California Dream Act, you must be unable to file the FAFSA and be eligible for AB 540, meaning you graduated from a California high school.

When is UCSB’s fee payment deadline?

Students must pay their fall fees by September 15th. Summer fees are due by August 3rd, and Spring fees are due by March 15th.

What is an academic quarter?

UCSB uses a quarter system rather than the semester system used by many other colleges. There are fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters, each typically involving about 49 days of instruction for students. Aid is awarded quarterly to students at UCSB.

Universities like the University of California, Santa Barbara that you might be interested in 

If you’re not sure that UCSB is the right school for you, consider these other universities.

Schools similar to UCSB

California Institute of Technology

If you’re interested in the research aspect of UC Santa Barbara, the California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, might be an appealing choice.

Located in Pasadena, Caltech is home to about 1,000 undergraduate students and 1,300 graduate students who work alongside the school’s 300 members of faculty. The school places a heavy emphasis on engineering and science.

California State University

If you like the idea of attending a public university but feel that UCSB isn’t a good fit, there are many other options.

One is the California State University system. There are almost half a million students in the system studying for degrees in dozens of different subjects. CSU has campuses located in cities like San Jose, Fullerton, San Francisco, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Los Angeles.

Cal Poly Pomona

Another option for technically-inclined students is Cal Poly Pomona. Cal Poly Pomona is one of the world’s best polytechnic universities and has nearly 24,000 students enrolled! The school focuses on applied sciences such as civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.

Cal Poly Pomona has built a reputation as one of the top technical schools in the western United States, and it also has a reputation for being highly innovative.

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UCSB is a highly-ranked school that offers a strong education at a low price. If you’re looking for a well-regarded public college with many financial aid programs, UCSB is a strong choice.

Mos can help if you’re looking for the best way to pay for higher education.

With Mos, you can find more financial aid, apply for hundreds of scholarships and grants, and more. 

Get started today with Mos.

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