Why Helping Students Apply for Financial Aid Matters

Paying for college is one of the major barriers our students face when it comes to college and with colleges getting more expensive each year, more students are unable to afford college.

Luckily, students can receive financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California DREAM Act. However, details like what types of financial aid opportunities are out there and how to apply for them are often unknown to students who are the first in their families to go to college.

We can’t let financial aid be the complicated detail that holds someone back from success. Chipping away at this barrier means bringing our students one step closer to not only accessing college, but succeeding to earn their degree without significant debt. That’s where our college counselors come in: this year, our staff hosted four Cash4College workshops at each of our partner schools, including UCLA Community Schools, ASGL High School, NOW Academy High School and Hamilton High School.

Why do these workshops work? Each session gives students focused time to submit their financial aid applications, and in-person guidance, which makes these stressful forms less intimidating. Vanesa, a senior at Hamilton High School who will be the first person in her family to attend college, was one of the many students who successfully completed her FAFSA application during our workshops.

“Without this workshop, I feel like I wouldn’t apply for financial aid because I wouldn’t know how to fill out FAFSA. My parents can’t help me apply because they both didn’t go to college and don’t know what FAFSA is but luckily, Fulfillment Fund came to me with a lot of help. They taught me step by step how to complete my FAFSA.”

Even before the workshop begin, our college counselors provide financial aid lessons to all of our students throughout the year. These lessons provide Fulfillment Fund students with a foundation that covers which financial aid applications are available to them, their potential school’s cost of attendance, the different types of financial aid (like grants and loans), and how to truly understand a financial aid award letter once you get one.

By the time Cash4College comes around, students are ready – and even if they have questions, our counselors are on-hand, in the room, and ready to help. Ariana Salone, a senior at Hamilton High School, shared her experience. “The workshops are great because they provide me with a place to fill out my application with people who know about FAFSA. When filling out my application, I had so many questions and they all got answered by a Fulfillment Fund counselor. They walked me through the process and helped me figure it out!”

We are very proud of all our high school seniors who have submitted their FAFSA applications! FAFSA is officially due this Saturday, March 2nd so encourage the students in your life to get their forms in on time. You can also support Fulfillment Fund students by joining Team Fulfillment Fund in the LA Big 5K run or by donating to an existing fundraiser today! Your donation can provide crucial financial aid workshops like Cash4College that help our students pay for college. Visit https://give.classy.org/TeamFF to learn more about how you can support their dreams.

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