Bright blue stars and yellow smiley-faced balloons attracted students to a table in the 100 Building at Woodland Community College on February 26, where two financial aid experts answered questions and explained how and where students could apply for the Free Application for Student Aid by the March 2 priority deadline.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., students had the opportunity to ask both the WCC Director of Financial Aid Sonia Ceja and Education Fund Representative Rosa Estrada questions regarding the process, requirements and how-to’s of financing their education. At noon in the student lounge, Student Services offered students free pizza and soda.
The main purpose of the event, according to Ceja, was to promote on-time completion of the 2007-2008 FAFSA application, available on-line at www.fafsa.ed.gov and at the financial aid office. The Department of Education uses the information provided on the FAFSA to determine how much award money a student will receive in Financial Aid for an Academic School Year.
Ceja said that a lot of students wait until the last minute, and the Financial Aid Blitz was to encourage students to apply early. “We want them (students) to understand the process and the benefits of applying before the deadline,” Ceja said. She explained that by filing the FAFSA by March 2, students had the opportunity to be considered for more free money.
Ceja and Estrada handed out several student-friendly free publications, provided by the California Student Aid Commission and the Ed Fund, in English and Spanish. “They help students understand the process and what’s available,” said Ceja.
The pamphlets, currently available in the Financial Aid office, provide in-depth details about state and federal grants, loans and scholarships. They also break down the application processes for the FAFSA and CalGrant, and provide worksheets for financial planning, budgeting, as well as an abundance of resources, with contact and website information.
Annette Krezman, Student Assistant to the Dean of Student Services, helped coordinate the event. She felt the most beneficial aspect of the Financial Aid Blitz was that it made students more aware of resources. A full-time student herself, Krezman said that although the Finaical Aid process can be time-consuming, it is worth it in the end.
According to Ceja, most students think they do not qualify when in fact they do. She explained that several grants and scholarships are awarded based only on having a minimum 2.0 GPA. Other awards are based on a range of criteria from financial need, specific majors and career goals, to personal interests and background.