It’s college application time, and for young people planning to go on to postsecondary education, some critical deadlines are fast approaching.

The most critical is the March 2 deadline to submit applications for the state administered Cal Grant programs. Cal Grants are available for low- and middle-income high school graduates, community college students and those interested in attending a career technical program.

The grants are awarded based on financial need to students who meet income and asset ceiling guidelines and who also have at least a 3.0 grade point average (Cal Grant A) or at least a 2.0 (Cal Grant B). There are two different grant categories students may apply for–entitlement and competitive.

The entitlement awards are given to everyone who meets all the eligibility requirements and include: Cal Grant A, which is leading to an academic degree; Cal Grant B, which is for academic programs leading to a degree or certificate; and Cal Grant C, which is open to students in a recognized career or technical education program that is at least four months long.

Young people who are not eligible for an entitlement awards can apply for a competitive Cal Grant A or B, when they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form.

According to the Student Aid Commission, which administers the Cal Grant programs, 50 percent of these 22,500 authorized awards will go to high school students who meet the March 2 deadline, and 50 percent will go to California community college students who meet the Sept. 2 deadline.

The first step in the process of qualifying for a Cal Grant is to submit the FAFSA and a state grade point verification form. A Cal Grant C supplemental form is also required for those seeking this grant.

This month the state is conducting a number of Cash for College workshops to help students and their families navigate the financial aid process.

Westchester and Fremont high schools are among the local schools that will hold Cash for College events on Saturday. The Westchester event is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the school, 7400 W. Manchester Blvd., Los Angeles. The Fremont workshop takes place from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the campus, 7676 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles.

The Cash for College workshop nearest the Antelope Valley will be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Los Angeles Mission College/ Campus Center, 13356 Eldridge, Sylmar.

Additional workshops will be held in February and March. To find out where, visit the student aid website at http://www.calgrants.org/index.cfm?navId=16.

Students who attend one of the workshops also have the opportunity to win an additional $1,000 scholarship. High school seniors just need to attend a workshop, complete an exit survey and submit the FAFSA and your verified Cal Grant GPA by the March 2 deadline. Recipients will be randomly selected and notified in late May or early June. The scholarships must be used in Fall 2011.

For additional information about other scholarships and sources of college funding, visit the student aid commission website at www.csac.ca.gov.