First Financial Aid workshop held Jan. 21

First Financial Aid workshop held Jan. 21

Catherine

Financial Aid workshop gives help with application to students and parents and $1000 scholarship raffle opportunity.

The Cash for College FAFSA (Federal Student Aid Application) Workshop was held on Jan. 21 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. as a drop-in service to provide students and parents with assistance in completing the FAFSA as well as the Dream Act application

Sponsored by California Student Aid Commission, MVHS partnered with the Mission College Financial Aid office to create the Cash for College workshop. This was MVHS’s first attempt at reaching out to the student and parent population to help them in their journey through the FASFA form and the Dream Act Application. Due to the time frame of four hours, students and parents could come in and out of the workshop anytime they pleased. Participants were asked to fill out an exit survey in order to be eligible for a scholarship raffle with an award of $1000.$1000 Scholarship Checklist

FAFSA is a form that is used by the Department of Education to provide “need based” financial aid to any current or prospective college students in the United States. Once the form is submitted through the free online application, the department will determine if the person is eligible to receive federal, state or college-sponsored financial aid. The aid will be given in the form of grants and loans. The Dream Act is a package of California laws that allows undocumented students who hold a required GPA and meet the school tuition to receive financial aid. Although the workshop mainly focused on FAFSA applications, students were able to receive help with the Dream Act application as well.

According to Career Center Liaison Miriam Taba, the $1000 scholarship raffle required 25 participants to attend the workshop. Each student or parent who attended must apply for a verified Cal Grant GPA, complete FASFA or Dream Act Application as well as complete the exit survey by March 2 as requested during the workshop. The raffle results will be announced at the end of May; the scholarship needs to be used in 2014 fall semester in order to be effective.

At the workshop, the library was prepared with at least five assistants who answered questions at the computers and one person to greet people at the sign-up station. Multiple bilingual assistants were present, to assist those who needed translations in languages including Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

“We have been getting positive responses from both parents and students,” Spanish speaker and volunteer Laura Dominguez-Yon said. “The workshop is supportive for the parents because they are able to talk to other parents as well as the helpers.”

Dominguez-Yon thought the workshop was productive since there were five computers for every family and all the resources that people needed were available. As people came in and out of the workshop, no person was left waiting in line for a computer.

Senior Jessie Chu enjoyed the idea of a drop-in workshop where she could start and finish as she pleased. Chu and her parents could ask questions and had no pressure to complete the FASFA while they were there.

“They had us sign in and directed us to a computer that had a screen which said ‘click here to get started,’” Chu said. “We just worked in [the FAFSA application] for a little while and realized we needed some tax information. Before we went home they reminded us to do the survey to get the raffle for the $1000 scholarship.”

As the participants left, they were offered a packet of papers and flyers that concerned scholarships and financial aid.

According to Taba, Mission College representatives viewed the turnout as very positive given that this was the first time this workshop has been hosted at MVHS; 57 people signed up and attended. Taba, however, was slightly disappointed since 200 participants attended Fremont High School’s workshop. Taba hopes that next year’s workshop will draw more participants.