FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California's new College Corps is giving Fresno State students a debt-free pathway to their degree.
Fresno State Senior Viviana Hinojos wasn't sure how she was going to make ends meet this school year.
'This year, I didn't get much financial aid because of COVID," explained Hinojos. "I was going to be struggling a lot."
That's when she heard about the California College Corps, an opportunity to serve in the community and receive an academic scholarship.
"I looked at my semester ahead of time. I knew I was in five classes, writing for the Collegian, and wanted to do the college corps," added Hinojos, "So I planned nothing else can go on my plate."
The motivated student was one of over 800 applicants for fewer than 200 positions. She now proudly serves on the brand new Central Valley College Corps.
"I love that part of my weekly routine now is getting to make an impact in my community and juggling school," added Hinojos.
The program pairs students with a non-profit where they'll complete 450 hours of community service over the school year. In return, they'll receive up to $10,000 to help pay for college.
"Students that normally wouldn't be able to handle that because they're working 2-3 jobs, now there's an opportunity for them to do some work that impacts our community and helps support our college process," said Director of the Central Valley College Corps Mellissa Jessen-Hiser.
Students also receive academic credit and real-world job experience. Viviana is spending her hours at the Central California Food Bank, where she enjoys connecting with the community members who pick up food.
"They talk to you, they tell you about their story, they share with you whatever they want to tell you about their day," said Hinojos. "It's personal and you realize how much your bag of groceries is giving to a family."
"It's those moments we're trying to create for dozens of students, and that's really the drive behind this work," added Jessen-Hiser.
Applications will open in the spring for the following school year. Interested students can apply here.