Hey students, have you filed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) yet? If not, then do it now, especially if you live in California. If you don’t live in California check herefor deadlines in your state.
March 2nd is the priority deadline in California. I’ve been filling out the FAFSA since 1998 and still don’t know what happens if I file after March 2nd because I would afraid I would get less aid or not be eligible for a Cal Grant. Anyone have a better idea of what happens if you file after March 2nd?
Speaking of financial aid, I’m writing a paper with a few other students on financial aid knowledge of students at five different high schools in Southern California. The schools vary by size, ethnicity (either mainly Latino or mainly African American), high school graduation rates, University of California/California State University eligibility rates, and percent receiving free or reduced lunch. I’ll be presenting the findings at the American Educational Research Association annual conference in Chicago this spring.
From the reading I’ve done in this area and another paper I’ve co-written using the same data, I think it’s safe to say that Latino parents and students don’t know too much when it comes to financial aid. And that’s bad considering the rising costs of attending postsecondary institutions.
Personally, I know it would have been nearly impossible for me to attend UCLA without financial aid… and that was back when the total cost was about $14,000. I had every type of aid you could get (minus private loans): federal and state grants, scholarships, work study, and federal loans. I learned that the free money — grants and scholarships — was ideal, but I was also willing to take out loans unlike many Latino students. Thanks to the aid I had, I didn’t need to work more than 10 hours a week and had plenty of time to study, get good grades, volunteer and be involved with MEChA and student government.
Despite being a first generation college student (meaning my parents didn’t attend a 4-year institution), I was still able to navigate the system. I had good counselors who notified us about deadlines for FAFSA or scholarships. I wasn’t poor, but my parent’s income at the time I started going to college had just decreased and made me eligible for more grants. I also did my undergraduate education at a time when the California economy was good (pre-dot com bust) and fees/tuition not only remained steady, but also decreased.
I feel like I lucked out, but I know there are many more who limit their dreams because they don’t know about financial aid, they just don’t apply because of the sticker shock, or they just can’t get financial aid because they’re undocumented.
Related nerdy higher education stuff
- NPR’s 7-part series on college admissions
- USC’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis
Publications on financial aid
- Daily Bruin coverage (and here) on UC Student Association Lobby Conference & Lobby Day