FEB. 20, 2001
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664/2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu

February is "Cal Grant" Month
There's money for college, but the deadline draws near

Many Californians qualify for significant financial help, but are not aware of it. For many students in California, March 2 is a date of critical importance to their futures. That is the deadline for applying for state-funded financial aid to attend colleges and universities in our state. In order to raise awareness of this critical deadline, Gov. Davis has proclaimed February as "Cal Grant Month" and high schools, community colleges, and universities are working together to inform students about Cal Grants and to help them apply for aid by the March 2 deadline.

"It is especially important that we get the word out about Cal Grants to students and parents in the Central Valley, where we have one of the lowest college-going rates in the state," said Tomas Arciniega, president of California State University, Bakersfield. Leaders of 21 Valley higher education institutions have joined to form the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium to help raise awareness that college is possible and that financial aid for tuition and fees is available.

California has one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country. Two years ago, state Sens. Charles Poochigian and Deborah Ortiz sponsored legislation that extended the Cal Grant financial aid program to all students who gain admission to a California community college or university and demonstrate financial need. Davis signed the legislation into law in 2000.

Under the new Cal Grant program, every college-bound student who qualifies based on need and meets the March 2 application deadline will receive a Cal Grant award for tuition and fees. In California, everyone who is qualified can now attend college. Yet, in spite of efforts by legislators to place a college education within the grasp of those who desire it, there are still too many students who do not take advantage of the opportunities for financial assistance that are available to them.

During February, the governor's office has teamed up with the California Student Aid Commission to hold "College Goal" workshops to help students and their families fill out the financial aid forms necessary for receiving Cal Grants and other financial aid.

In Bakersfield, a workshop will be held on Saturday (Feb. 23) at University Square, Conference Room 1, 2000 K St. (corner of 20th and K streets), from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sessions will be conducted in English and Spanish. Financial aid professionals will be on hand to assist students and their families with the application process for Cal Grant financial aid. Students and parents should attend with their questions and bring copies of tax forms so that they can receive help filling out the application materials. Information, including forms, is also available to students and their families at the website of the California Student Aid Commission at www.csac.ca.gov.

"A college education is an important resource that will enhance the quality of life of each individual student and the community in which he or she lives," Arciniega said. "It requires time, energy, and money, but in the long run, it is one of life's most important investments. If you are a student or parent who thinks that college is unaffordable, then a College Goal workshop is for you. Don't miss this important deadline. And get the facts! They may surprise you. In California, college is affordable, and this month educators and counselors are available to help you with the financial aid application process."

Arciniega said the deadline for financial assistance is drawing near. "We urge all educators, business and community leaders to help us get the word out so that more of our young people will secure the financial assistance they need to make their dreams for higher education become a reality," he said. "All the information you need to complete a Cal Grant application is available online at www.csac.ca.gov and access to a computer is available in many of our public libraries. High school guidance counselors are also available to provide assistance with the application process."

Kern County educators supporting this effort, in addition to Arciniega, include Larry E. Reider, Kern County Superintendent of Schools; Jean Fuller, superintendent of Bakersfield City School District; and Douglas J. Miller, superintendent of Panama-Buena Vista Union School District.

For more information about Cal Grants and other financial aid, please call the financial aid office at CSUB, (661) 664-3016.

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