financial aid available, overlooked

By Florinda Hershey, Staff Writer

The number of students who apply for financial aid at Contra Costa College is lower this semester than the fall 2014 semester.

Financial Aid Supervisor Monica Rodriquez said this downward trend is revealed by FASFA application rates for the spring semester.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is offered by the U.S. Department of Education that awards $150 billion a year in grants, work study funds and low-interest loans.

In order to curb the trend and help more students apply, Rodriguez said the Financial Aid Department scheduled campus events.

“FAFSA Nights” are opportunities for students who work during the day to visit the assessment computer lab in the Student Services Center to get help with filling out FASFA applications Feb. 18 and 25 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“The financial aid staff will be there to help students,” she said.

Applying for financial aid, however, can be the most difficult obstacle for some students, like Veronica Cacho.

Cacho said she has not applied for financial aid because she fears that she will be rejected and because applying for financial aid is “hard.”

Rodriguez said students who are not informed do not get help because they do not ask. Financial aid staff are available to help needy students.

FASFA covers such expenses as tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and transportation.

“Many students do not apply. Not because they do not qualify but because they are misinformed,” she said. “They prefer not to apply and for that reason they miss a very important opportunity to get help with expensive tuition.”

She said the application process for grants and scholarships should not be intimidating for students because if they need assistance there are people willing to do their best to help. 

CCC student Siomara Bervis said filling out the financial aid application is “fast” and “easy.”

Bervis said having a large financial aid staff is helpful when you are applying for FASFA because you do not want to have any complications during the process.

Rodriguez said that faculty and administrators are currently developing different ways to improve the communication of these financial aid opportunities to students at CCC.

“There is no excuse not to get answers to many questions that students have,” she said, “when paying for college is a challenge.”