Fresno students take advantage of financial aid

FRESNO, Calif.

That's why it's more important than ever for students to take advantage of the billions of dollars available in federal and state financial aid.

There is one very important application to fill out and the sooner you submit it, the higher your chances of getting money for college.

Despite the huge budget deficits nationwide and the drastic cuts to education there is $150 billion available in financial aid for students going to college.

"A couple of years ago it was $93 billion but it has increased tremendously," Gloria Ponce Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez-- District Coordinator for Secondary Education at Fresno Unified says money for some grants and scholarships could run out. That's why students need to file the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, as soon as possible.

"We'd like to increase our FAFSA applications at least 20 percent this year and higher the following year."

Fresno Unified is one of 20 schools nationwide participating in the FAFSA completion pilot program. Student information is uploaded to a federal database which alerts the district of students who have not submitted an application or whether they submitted a FAFSA that was incomplete.

The application is a lot simpler this year with prompts and red flags letting students know when they've made a mistake.

The number one reason applications get rejected filing without a parent signature.

"The parents have to sign that FAFSA because we can spend a lot of time in the classroom completing the FAFSA but if the parent doesn't complete it, then all that work goes out the window."

All district high schools have financial aid labs. They are also partnering with community organizations to offer workshops for both students and parents.

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea is also joined the effort, because he fears that if the state budget gets worse Cal Grants could become a target for cuts.

"If some of the budget solutions don't come to realize, then some of these programs may be affected in the future-- so I wanted to make sure that while they are healthy Valley students are taking advantage of them, they know about them and are using to them to help offset some of the tuition increases that are occurring throughout the state," Assm. Henry T. Perea said.

The deadline to apply for a Cal Grant is March 2.

We're told even if parents have not filed their income tax return this year due to filing delays by the IRS do not wait to submit your FAFSA, simply use your 2010 tax return and make corrections later.

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FAFSA Workshops

Tuesday, February 8
Roosevelt High School Library, 5-8pm
Parents will receive information and be able to fill out FAFSA with their student.

Saturday, February 12
Roosevelt High School Library, 9am-12pm
Students and parents will have the opportunity to use our computers to complete their FAFSA. Staff will be on hand to provide assistance.

Saturday, February 12
Main Central Library Downtown Fresno , 11am-1pm
2420 Mariposa Street, Sarah McCardle Room
Parents will receive information and be able to fill out FAFSA with their student.

Thursday, February 17
Roosevelt High School Library, 5-8pm
Parents will receive information and be able to fill out FAFSA with their student.

Saturday, February 19
Roosevelt Library, 9am-12pm
Students and parents will have the opportunity to use our computers to complete their FAFSA. Staff will be on hand to provide assistance.

Sunday, February 20
Woodward Park Library, 1pm-4:30pm
944 East Perrin Avenue
Parents will receive information and be able to fill out FAFSA with their student.

Assemblymember Henry T. Perea for more information:
(559) 445-5532

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