SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

University students are sending in financial aid applications in big numbers.

A record number of California college students applied for financial aid, according to federal education information. Tuition costs have been very challenging and they rose dramatically prior to 2012.

The number of California residents filing the federal financial aid application jumped nearly 74 percent over the six-year period.

Over all, in the 2012-13 academic year, the U.S. Department of Education says 2.65 million graduate and undergraduate students based in California filed federal financial aid applications.  Detailed information was obtained by the Sacramento Bee.

"I would not have an opportunity to go to a great school if I didn't have financial aid.  Honestly I think it was the best program, especially with rising tuition fees," said UC Santa Barbara student Pearl Huang.

The percentage of Cal State and University of California freshmen receiving financial aid increased from 57 percent in 2006-07 to 72 percent in 2011-12.

That number is expected to climb under a plan approved last year by state leaders that helps families earning up to $150,000 pay for UC or CSU educations. The state is phasing in the scholarship program over the next three school years.

Tuition, meanwhile, has remained flat for two school years at UC and CSU after California voters approved tax hikes in 2012. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the systems to continue to freeze tuition for a third straight year.

It helps to cover many costs beyond those in the classroom.

"Yea it just helps overall with the living expenses, transportation,  food all of that,    not just tuition," Paul Bhullar a second year UCSB student.

And with those loans however comes, a payback plan.

"I worry about it, but I think I should go to grad school or get a job after I graduate," said student Rachel Kwon.

"I am hoping my job pays well, that's what I am hoping for after grad school," said Bhullar.