January 24, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
BAKERSFIELD – Education and community leaders from throughout Kern County and the southern San Joaquin Valley today urged students and parents to take advantage of upcoming “Cash for College” workshops to help students apply for financial aid.
“California Cash for College” is a statewide effort sponsored by the California Student Aid Commission and promoted by the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium and colleges and universities in the San Joaquin Valley to encourage students to take advantage of the money that is available to help them finance their college education.
As part of the campaign, the California Student Aid Commission partners with regional organizations to offer workshops aimed at helping students successfully complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Grade Point Average Verification Form, which are necessary to apply for Cal Grants and other types of financial aid. The deadline to submit FAFSA and Cal Grant GPA Verification forms is March 2.
Several workshops, all bilingual, are scheduled throughout the San Joaquin Valley during February. Among them:
- Feb. 18, 10 a.m.-noon, Police Activities League, 301 E. Fourth St., Bakersfield.
- Feb. 19, noon-2 p.m., McFarland High School, 259 Sherwood Ave., McFarland.
- Feb. 25, 10 a.m.-noon, Boys and Girls Club, 801 Niles St., Bakersfield.
- Feb. 26, noon-2 p.m., Arvin High School, 900 Varsity Road, Arvin.
- March 1, 6-8 p.m., UC Merced Bakersfield Center, University Square, second floor, 2000 K St., Bakersfield.
Frank Ramirez, financial aid counselor at California State University, Bakersfield, said the workshops are extremely important for those seeking financial aid to pay for college. “Two thirds of the eligible students are not getting financial aid simply because they’re not completing the forms,” he said. “All they have to do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students interested in financial aid for college will need to complete this form. Students can’t appreciate the value of the workshop if they haven’t filled a FAFSA out themselves.”
Last year more than $3 million in Pell and Cal grants that was available to Kern County students was not awarded simply because people didn’t apply, he said. “The money is there; you don’t know what you qualify for until you fill out the appropriate forms.”
“No student should miss out on attending a college or university due to lack of finances,” said Horace Mitchell, president of California State University, Bakersfield. “I encourage high school students and their parents to attend these important workshops. The financial aid is available to make their educational dreams come true. It is critical for the future economic well-being of our region that we create a college-going culture.”
"Last year, more than 80 percent of UC Merced students applied for and received an offer of financial aid," said David B. Ashley, executive vice chancellor and provost at UC Merced. "Sixty-four percent received need-based financial aid and 38 percent qualified for the maximum amount of financial assistance available.
"Whether they attend our campus, a CSU or a community college, financial aid is absolutely critical for Valley students to be able to participate in higher education," Ashley added.
“Bakersfield College, Cerro Coso College, Porterville College and BC’s Delano campus are often the first step for thousands of area high school students to achieve a college education,” said Joan Wegner, BC’s financial aid director. “That’s why all of our colleges and universities so strongly support and so actively participate in the Cash for College workshop program.”
“We want students to know that college is possible and affordable,” said Allen Carden, executive director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium. “Resources are available to help students pay for their education. They just have to apply for it.”
According to a consortium report, last year only 28 percent of the students in the Central Valley who qualified for Cal Grants submitted an application.
Students and parents should bring, if possible, their 2005 federal income tax return forms, W-2 or other relevant 2005 income information to one of the workshops. They should also bring their driver’s license or other form of state identification and know their Social Security number. “If income information is not available, students and parents can make estimates, so they should come anyway,” Ramirez said. “We’ll work with them.”
Students who attend these workshops and complete an evaluation form will be entered in a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship per workshop.
Scholarships are being provided by the Education Financing Foundation of California. The foundation has offered to provide 275 scholarships to be awarded throughout California.
The Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, established in March 2000, is a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting programs, policies and performance designed to increase higher-education attainment in the 10-county San Joaquin Valley area – Kern, Tulare, Kings, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Madera, Merced, Mariposa and Fresno counties.
For more information about Cash for College workshops in Kern County, please call Frank Ramirez in the CSUB Financial Aid office at (661) 664-3248.
Information is also available at the consortium website at www.CollegeNext.org, or by calling toll-free
(877) ITS-POSSIBLE (487-7677).
For information about the statewide campaign, please visit www.californiacashforcollege.org.
California Cash for College is supported locally by Assembly members Nicole Parra and Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield College, California State University, Bakersfield; the Kern Community College District, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Kern High School District, state Sens. Roy Ashburn and Dean Florez, Kern County Supervisor Michael Rubio, Southern San Joaquin Valley California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), Taft College, University of California, Merced; and University of California, Santa Barbara.