- Federal Student Grants (Federal Grants) are free money for educational expenses for eligible students pursuing a postsecondary education.
- Cal Grants (state aid) are free money guaranteed to every high school senior that applies on time and meets income, eligibility and GPA requirements.
- State University Grant (SUG) provides need-based awards to cover the Tuition Fee.
- Educational Opportunity Grant (EOP) provides assistance to economically and educationally disadvantaged undergraduates.
- TEACH Grant The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is available for selected postbaccalaureate and master’s programs and plans in education.
- Federal Loans are low-interest student loans that are designed to provide students with borrowing options that require repayment over a long-term period of time typically six months after graduation or attendance at less than half-time.
- Subsidized Loans are available to students who meet financial need requirements and are attending school at least half-time. With this loan, the government pays the interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Six months after graduation or attendance less than half-time, repayment will begin. An unsubsidized loan is available to any student regardless of financial need, but the student pays the interest while enrolled.
- PLUS Loans are available for the parents of students attending college.
- Graduate PLUS Loans are available to students enrolled in Masters Degree Programs.
- Alternative Loans private loans are available to creditworthy borrowers to meet the cost of education after other sources of aid has been depleted or when federal loan limits have been reached.
- California Dream Loan is borrowed money you must repay with interest. The loan is subsidized for undergraduate students with a valid CA Dream Act application and a valid AB540 affidavit or "U" Visa on file with Cal State San Marcos.
- Scholarships provide "free" money for college, usually based on your area of study or merit, such as good grades, high test scores, athletic, musical or other special talents, community service and sometimes financial need.
- Work-Study provides part-time employment, usually on campus. Students are paid for hours worked and use the earnings to help finance educational expenses.