Educators brush up on financial aid application process at workshop

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amy Gonzalez is the first-time councilor at Hoover High School. She and about 200 other college and Fresno Unified educators attended a Financial aid workshop put on by the California Student Aid Commission at Fresno State Wednesday morning. What she learned is vital for the success of her students.

"It is crucial in being able to help students have aid go to college-- most of our students are going to need that support," said Gonzalez.

School may have just started, but FAFSA open enrollment is quickly approaching. Recently, Gonzalez began the process with students.

"They didn't know how to forward an email, so kind of going back to basics with students and helping them kind of get their nerves out of the way and just helping them," said Gonzalez.

For many, filling out a FAFSA can be daunting, especially for first-timers. Gloria Ponce-Rodriguez with Fresno Unified School District says she sees many who give up on the application.

"It can be very overwhelming, something that normally takes less than 30 minutes can take two hours, can be two weeks or two months depending on how they complete their application."

Other students are unaware of the resources available to them. Ponce-Rodriguez says this seems to be the issue with those who don't qualify for federal aid.

"Students that think that their parents make too much money and are not eligible for financial aid. A teach grant doesn't base it on your income it's based off your GPA at 3.2 and above," she said.

This year some small changes were made to the application simplifying the process. Verbiage is now easier to understand, and an app was launched.

"The US Department of Education rolled out their new mobile site, so now the site has a whole new look and students can access it from any mobile device," said Kelly Russell, Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Open enrollment begins on the first of October, and it is recommended that applicants start as soon as possible.
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