There are two main types of financial aid: merit-based and need-based. Merit-based financial aid is distributed based on test scores, grade point average (GPA), and other academic indicators. Need-based financial aid is usually allocated based on four main factors: financial need, education requirements, legal and other requirements, and “match” requirements. (Additional information can be found in "Who Gets Aid?")
California's financial student aid eligibility requirements are different from the federal requirements. Ask your college financial aid office, and browse the California Student Aid Commission Web site. They have a mission to make education beyond high school financially accessible to all Californians
Most financial aid is need-based, designed to bridge the gap between what you and your family can afford to pay.