Scholarship FAQ

Find answers to whichever type of questions you have by clicking the links below.

Richmond Promise Overview and General Questions

1. Am I eligible for the Richmond Promise?

To be eligible for the Richmond Promise, you must:

  1. Be a resident of the City of Richmond, North Richmond, or Point Richmond (i.e. have a Richmond home address)
  2. Have graduated from an eligible high school within the West Contra Costa Unified School District boundary area or received your GED/high school equivalency this academic year or the year prior*
  3. Have attended an eligible high school at least 9th-12th grade consecutively
  4. Complete the FAFSA/Dream Act by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline (unless not AB 540 eligible)
  5. Submit a Richmond Promise Scholarship application by the application deadline

Additionally:

  • *Students can apply for the scholarship up to a year after obtaining their high school diploma/equivalency and up to age of 21 as of the application deadline in the year a student applies to the scholarship.
  • Students who pursue military service must apply within a year of high school graduation or receiving their equivalency, but are exempt from the 21-year age limit. Students who pursue military service may defer their scholarship for up to 8 years as long as proof of service is provided.

2. Is my high school eligible?

Any school within the West Contra Costa Unified School District boundary area, including public, charter, and private schools, is eligible for the Richmond Promise. Please find a list of eligible high schools here.

3. What is the scholarship award amount?

Scholarship award amount is up to $1,500.00 and will be determined based on your length of residency and positive attendance in high school. Please see the chart below.

Length of residency is determined by consecutive length of enrollment at eligible elementary, middle, and high schools (See full list of eligible schools here.) Positive attendance is defined a 10% or less of absences on average throughout high school (9th-12th grades).

Residency Length

Consecutive Enrollment Tiers

Enrollment Award

Positive Attendance Award

Maximum Total Award

5th/6th through 12th

Elem, Middle, High

$1,250 $250

$1,500

6th/7th-8th  through 12th

Middle, High $1,000 $250

$1,250

9th through 12th High $750 $250

$1,000

4. Why do you use a scale to distribute the awards?

We’re here to help build a better city and that success starts with you! We want to invest in families that have lived and invested in Richmond and encourage more families to invest in Richmond early on.

5. What if I moved out of the district for a period of time, and then came back? How much funding would I receive?

The scholarship amount is determined by the most recent consecutive period of time you spent as a Richmond resident, attending schools in the district. For example, if you attended local schools grades K-5, left for grades 6-8, then returned for 9-12, you would be eligible for the most recent consecutive time in local schools: grades 9-12, up to $1,000.

6. Why do you consider school attendance?

Attending school regularly is essential to students gaining the academic and social skills they need to succeed. By 9th grade, missing 20 percent of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores. Your opportunities to learn and chances to succeed increase exponentially when you are in the classroom!

You must have positive attendance at an eligible school defined by missing no more than 10% on average throughout high school (9th-12th grade),  including excused and unexcused absences for each year you are eligible. If your attendance hasn’t been great, you can make the change starting now! Exemptions will be made for you if you’ve spent extended time in a hospital in the event of a medical or family emergency. Contact the Richmond Promise Team at info@richmondpromise.org if you have a unique circumstance for consideration.

7. What if I’m a foster youth or homeless youth and have moved in and out of Richmond and between schools a lot, can I still qualify for the scholarship?

If you have extenuating and unique circumstances, such as having moved or changed schools many times due to being in foster care or homeless, you can still complete a Richmond Promise Scholarship application. You will be required to also complete an Appeal Form, which is included in the scholarship application, to explain your extenuating circumstances. The Richmond Promise Appeals Committee will review your appeal to decide whether to grant you a scholarship. A decision will be given to students in early May.

8. Is the Richmond Promise available for AB 540 eligible and/or undocumented students?

Yes! The program applies to any Richmond resident who graduates from an eligible school. AB 540 eligible students will need to complete the California Dream Act application by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline to qualify for the Richmond Promise.

If you are not AB540 eligible and are undocumented, you can still complete a Richmond Promise Scholarship application. You will be required to also complete an Appeal Form, which is included in the scholarship application, to explain your extenuating circumstances. The Richmond Promise Appeals Committee will review your appeal to decide whether to grant you a scholarship. A decision will be given to students in early May.

9. Where can I use my Richmond Promise Scholarship?

You can use your Richmond Promise Scholarship at any accredited, not for profit 2-year or 4-year college/university, or Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. You may not use the scholarship for fully online or at for profit institutions.

10. What is the difference between a non-profit, private, and for profit higher education institution?[1]

Public colleges and universities receive funding from tuition and endowments, but the larger part of their funding comes from state or local taxes. Most public postsecondary schools are state-run, which lowers the tuition for in-state students.

Private, non-profit colleges and universities receive funding primarily from student tuition and endowments. These institutions function as non-profit organizations that usually follow the leadership of a board of trustees. Private colleges and universities may receive some governmental support in the form of tax breaks and student loans, but operating mostly on private support allows them to develop their own institutional plan.

For-profit higher education institutions, or schools, are privately owned and operated, whereas non-profit schools are publicly owned. The credits earned at a for-profit school are not accredited meaning they cannot be transferred over to an accredited non-profit school if you wish to change schools or continue on to advanced degree programs.

Students may not use their Richmond Promise Scholarship at for profit higher education institutions.

[1] NACAC http://www.nacacnet.org/issues-action/LegislativeNews/Pages/For-Profit-Colleges.aspx

11. Is the Richmond Promise Scholarship a one-time scholarship?

No, the Richmond Promise Scholarship is renewable for up to a total of four years for students attending a 4-year college, and for up to a total of two years for students attending a 2-year college. If a student attending a 2-year college transfer to a 4-year college, they may receive an additional two years of funding.

12. How long do I have to use my Richmond Promise award?

A student attending a 4-year college has up to 6 years to use 4 years’ worth of scholarship funds (8 semesters or 12 quarters), and a student attending a 2-year college has up to 3 years to use 2 years’ worth of funding (4 semesters or 6 quarters).

13. What if I take a break from school after high school/GED completion?

We understand the variability of life circumstances that may cause a student to have to take a term or year off from school. Richmond Promise Scholarship recipients may take up to one academic year (or two semesters/three quarters consecutively) off from school and still continue to receive their scholarship. Please be in touch with us at info@richmondpromise.org if you believe you will need to take time off.

Additionally, students who did not apply for the Richmond Promise Scholarship the year they graduated from high school or completed their GED/high school equivalency, may apply for the scholarship up to one year after but must be under the age of 21 when they apply.

14. I graduated before 2016, can I apply for the Richmond Promise?

No. Only high school graduates or those who completed their GED/high school equivalency in 2016 and beyond are eligible for the Richmond Promise Scholarship.

15. If I already graduated from high school (2016 or after) and meet the eligibility requirements, can I still apply to the Richmond Promise scholarship?

You may apply for the Richmond Promise up to one year after the completion of your high school degree or GED/high school equivalency and up to the age of 21. Students who pursue military service are exempt from the age limit.

16. Can I use the Richmond Promise if I am a part-time college student?

No. Students must be attending school full time (at least 12 units) in order to receive the Richmond Promise Scholarship unless they have a registered disability or other extenuating circumstance with their college that allows them to take a reduced course load.

17. Can the scholarship be transferred from a two-year college to a four-year college or university?

Yes! Richmond Promise will happily transfer your scholarship between eligible schools and actively encourage people to transfer from two to four-year schools. Please meet with your community college counselor as soon as possible to create a transfer plan.

18. Can the scholarship be transferred to siblings or friends?

No. It’s only for the student who applied for and was awarded the scholarship.

Richmond Promise Scholarship Application Questions

1. When do I apply for the Richmond Promise Scholarship?

You should apply for the Richmond Promise Scholarship your senior year of high school or the year you are planning on completing your GED/high school equivalency. You may also apply up to one year after completing high school or a GED/high school equivalency program up to the age of 21 years old.

2. When is the application due and how can I get help with it?

You must complete a Richmond Promise application and submit it online between October 2, 2017 and March 9, 2018, 11:59PM. Late applications will not be accepted.

For assistance with your application, please utilize your school’s college and career center, or see if we have a workshop coming up here.

3. What do I need in order to submit an application?

  1. Email address: You will need an email address to create an account for the online application.
  2. FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) or CA Dream Act Application Student Aid Report (CalSAR): You must upload your SAR or CalSAR as a .pdf file. You receive your SAR or CalSAR after completing the FAFSA or Dream Act.*

*Remember: You must complete your FAFSA/Dream Act application by March 2, 2018 as a requirement for the Richmond Promise Scholarship unless you are ineligible to complete either financial aid application (i.e. not AB 540 eligible).

4. Why do I have to fill out the FAFSA or Dream Act by March 2?

The FAFSA and the CA Dream Act application provide government financial aid to California residents. It is necessary that you apply by March 2 so you receive the maximum amount of financial support to make completing college as affordable as possible. If you are not eligible to complete the FAFSA or Dream Act (not AB 540 eligible), you will be exempt from this requirement.

Reminder: You complete either the FAFSA or the Dream Act, not both, depending on your citizenship status.

5. How do I know whether to complete the FAFSA or the Dream Act?

You should complete the FAFSA if you are one of the following:

  • United States citizen
  • United States permanent resident with a Permanent Resident Card (Alien Registration Receipt Card, or “Green Card”)
  • Conditional permanent resident (1-551C)
  • Other eligible noncitizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”

You should complete the Dream Act if one of the following applies to you:

  • AB 540 or AB 2000 eligible student (AB 540 eligibility)
  • Reside in California with a U-Visa
  • Reside in California with a Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
  • You have a DACA Social Security Number

Reminder: You complete either the FAFSA or the Dream Act, not both, depending on your citizenship status.

6. When is the deadline for the FAFSA or Dream Act?

The CA Dream Act and the FAFSA for California state aid is due March 2. For the quickest processing time, we recommend you complete your FAFSA online, where your application will process within 3-5 days. Alternatively, you can submit a paper application, which will process in 7-10 days.

7. Do I have to wait until my parents or I file taxes to complete my FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?

No, you do not! In fact, this year’s FAFSA or CA Dream Act Applications require using 2016 tax and income information not this year’s taxes. We recommend you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (only if you are completing a FAFSA, not a CA Dream Act Application) if you can to quickly and accurately input you and your parents’/guardians’ income information.

8. When will I be notified if I received the Richmond Promise scholarship?

You will be notified via email in early May 2018 if you are a recipient of the Richmond Promise Scholarship.

9. I need help with the Richmond Promise Application, financial aid, and/or figuring out the college application and enrollment process in general. What do I do?

  • Visit your college and career center at your high school!
  • Attend Cash for College events at your high school and in your community for assistance filling out your FAFSA/Dream Act.
  • The Richmond Promise team is here to support you!
    • See if we have an upcoming financial aid/scholarship application workshop here.
    • Contact Gaby Urias, the Richmond Promise Outreach Coordinator, at gurias@richmondpromise.org or 510-974-3268 for one-on-one assistance
    • Request a workshop for a group here.
  • Go to the Resources section of our website for a growing list of resources help you find more scholarships, complete financial aid applications, access support on college applications, etc.

10. Where can I or my parents/guardians get help with filing taxes?

You can get free tax support at many local community sites. Visit Earn It! Keep It! Save It! to find free tax assistance near you! When you are going to get your taxes prepared, be sure to bring with you the following:

  1. Photo identification (for you and your spouse, if filing jointly)
  2. Social Security card or ITIN for each family member
  3. W-2 forms for all jobs held in 2015
  4. All 1099, 1098, or other tax forms
  5. Savings and checking account and routing numbers for Tax Refund Direct Deposit
  6. Prior year’s tax return
  7. Your household’s health coverage information (1095-A if bought through Covered CA).

I received the Richmond Promise Scholarship! Now what?

1. What do I need to do to receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?

In order to process your scholarship award and have it sent to your college, you must turn in two documents:

  1. Scholarship Acceptance Form
  2. Proof of Enrollment (Class schedule or financial aid award package)

You will receive these documents electronically after you are awarded the Richmond Promise Scholarship, and they will be due mid-summer.

2. What happens if I decide to go to another college or university?

We understand that college plans change over the summer for numerous reasons. If this happens, please let us know as soon as possible at info@richmondpromise.org or 510-761-7231. If you wait too long, it may put a delay on your scholarship being sent to your college.
Additionally, if you want support getting to a college you want to attend but are having difficulties with financial aid or for other reasons, please contact us at info@richmondpromise.org or 510-761-7231. We want to support you get to the college you want to attend and can assist you navigate the process.

3. When will I receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?

If you have turned in all the necessary documents on time (See above: What do I need to do to receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?), your scholarship will be received by your school at the beginning of the academic year. We will send a confirmation email to you once your check is sent. Once we send your scholarship check, colleges take various amounts of time to process the award and apply it to your financial aid package, so we cannot guarantee a specific day that the money will be made available to you.

If you encounter any issues receiving your scholarship, please contact your school’s financial aid scholarship point person or Jessica Rodriguez, the Associate Director of Scholarships, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 761-7231.

4. Will I receive all of my scholarship at the beginning of the school year?

No. For all scholarship recipients, your scholarship will be equally divided between your school’s two semester or three quarters.

5. Will my Richmond Promise scholarship be a direct check to me?

No. The Richmond Promise scholarship sent directly to your college. First the scholarship will be applied to your tuition, other school fees, or loans. If there is any extra award left over, it will be given to you by your school in the form of a check or directly sent to your bank account if you set up electronic funds transfer (EFT) with your school.

6. What can my Richmond Promise Scholarship be used for?

The scholarship may be used for the total cost of attendance as defined and calculated by the college and university you attend, which includes: tuition and fees, books, supplies, food and housing, transportation, and other education-related expenses.


If funds are still available after being applied to your tuition, other school fees, or loans, any extra amount may be given to you in a check from your school for books, school supplies, food and housing, transportation, or other education-related expenses.

7. What happens if I am not attending school this fall but will start this upcoming spring or next fall?

We understand that situations may come up that prevent you from attending school in the fall as you planned; however, if you need extra support getting to school in the fall, please contact Jessica Rodriguez, the Associate Director of College Success, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 761-7231.

If you still cannot attend school this fall, no worries – you can begin receiving your Richmond Promise Scholarship either in the spring or the following fall after you were awarded the scholarship. You may only take up to a year (two semesters or three quarters consecutively, not including summer) off from being full time at school to remain eligible to receive the scholarship.

8. What do I need to do once I’m in college to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise Scholarship?

Congrats on getting to college! We are here to help encourage you to take advantage of the college experience and be as successful as possible. That’s why in order to remain eligible for renewal of the Richmond Promise scholarship you must:

  1. Be enrolled full-time at an accredited, non-profit 2-year or 4-year college or university, or CTE program. Full-time is usually 12 units/credits per semester or quarter.
  2. Be in good academic standing with your college or university (as defined by your college, usually a 2.0 GPA or above).
  3. Participate in an academic support program (i.e. EOP, EOPS, Puente, Umoja, etc.)
  4. Complete your FAFSA/Dream Act each year by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline
  5. Renew your Richmond Promise Scholarship each year in early summer by the renewal deadline

Returning Applicants: Renewal Process

1. When can I renew my Richmond Promise Scholarship?

You will be notified via email in late May during each year of college on how and where to renew your Richmond Promise Scholarship. The deadline will be in mid-July.

2. What do I need to do to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise Scholarship?

To remain eligible for the Richmond Promise scholarship, each year of college you must:

  1. Be enrolled full-time at an accredited, non-profit 2-year or 4-year college or university, or CTE program. Full-time is usually 12 units/credits per semester or quarter.
  2. Be in good academic standing with your college or university (as defined by your college, usually a 2.0 GPA or above).
  3. Participate in an academic support program (i.e. EOP, EOPS, Puente, Umoja, etc.)
  4. Complete your FAFSA/Dream Act each year by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline
  5. Renew your Richmond Promise Scholarship each year in early summer by the renewal deadline

3. What happens if I do not meet one of the eligibility requirements?

If you do not meet one of the above eligibility requirements, you should still complete the renewal application by the established deadline. You will be required to complete an Appeal Form as a part of your application. The form will be built into the renewal application. The Richmond Promise Appeals Committee will review your appeal to decide whether to grant you an exception to continue receiving your scholarship.

4. What happens if I miss the renewal application deadline?

There will be no extensions to the renewal application deadline. If it is missed, you will not receive your scholarship for the upcoming school year; however, you will be eligible to complete a renewal application the following year and beginning receiving your Richmond Promise Scholarship the following academic year.

5. What do I need to complete my Richmond Promise Scholarship renewal application?

In order to complete a renewal Richmond Promise application, you will need:

  1. Log-In Information: Log into the Richmond Promise renewal application via our website with the same account (username and password) you used when you first applied for the scholarship.
  2. FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) or CA Dream Act Application Student Aid Report (CalSAR): You must upload your SAR or CalSAR as a .pdf file. You receive your SAR or CalSAR after completing the FAFSA or Dream Act.*

*Remember: You must complete your FAFSA/Dream Act application by March 2, 2018 as a requirement for the Richmond Promise Scholarship unless you are ineligible to complete either financial aid application (i.e. not AB 540 eligible).

For requirements to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise scholarship see above: What do I need to do to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise Scholarship?

6. What happens once I successfully renew my Richmond Promise Scholarship?

The Richmond Promise Team will review your application and let you know once it has been processed. In this time period, we will also request any incorrectly submitted or missing documents from you. The scholarship payment process will follow the same timing as the previous year it was awarded to you.

Answers to questions regarding when your school will be receiving your scholarship, how you can use it, etc. can be found in the section above: I received the Richmond Promise Scholarship! Now what?