By: Alejandra Sacio, Director of Communications
One of the most significant hurdles our students face when it comes to college-going is the price tag associated with it. College has become more unaffordable than ever. It often leads students to insurmountable debt, leaving them even more disadvantaged when starting their careers. Securing financial aid for our students is pivotal to what we do to ensure our students are set up for success beyond college.
We host a series of Financial Aid workshops for students at their high schools or partnering organizations throughout the year. We also work with students individually to secure additional funding and continue providing financial aid advisement throughout their college careers. But there is no more critical first step than their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application — or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) for undocumented students.
FAFSA is the first gate of entry to all federal aid funds that students are eligible to receive, which could translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars toward a student’s education. The federal government uses this application to gather financial information to determine what loans and grants you qualify for and whether you need to pay them back. Students must submit their FAFSA each new school year to continue receiving this support.
The California Dream Act Application is used to apply for state financial aid, like Cal Grants. Undocumented students who meet California Assembly Bill 540 requirements will need to submit the CA Dream Act Application to be eligible for state financial aid. Ensuring our students submit these applications is crucial to their access to higher education. Fulfillment Fund has expert staff who guide students in completing their appropriate financial aid application accurately so they can maximize the amount of aid they can receive.
In December, we hosted our first Financial Aid Workshop of the season at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus and had an impressive turnout of more than 200 high school seniors and their parents. We will continue to host more workshops as we approach the March 2nd deadline (for both applications).
We encourage all our students to apply and do so as early as possible as it works on a first-come, first-served basis, which means that someone who submits in October could secure more aid than someone submitting in February. FAFSA and CADAA open the door to college grants, work-study funds, federal student loans (which have lower rates than private loans), and specific state-based aid. Every eligible student should apply regardless if they don’t think they qualify. The applications are free and could be life-changing.