April is the 9th Annual California Community Colleges Financial Aid Awareness Month, during this month the “I Can Afford College” campaign remind and educate students about the availability of financial aid year-round.
Financial aid is at hand to assist students and families in meeting the costs of a college education. It’s money that students can use to help pay for fees, books, and other expenses.
According to icanaffordcollege.com the California Community College enrollment fee was raised significantly in 2003 and 2004. Because of the increases, many Californians were concerned that students from lower income households would be discouraged from enrolling in a community college because it would seem unaffordable.
The Legislature set aside money from within the community college budget to increase awareness about financial aid opportunities and to hire additional staff to provide students with free one-on-one help identifying those opportunities and applying for them.
“Financial Aid Awareness Month is important because it not only raises awareness about the availability of aid, but it also informs students about the variety of financial aid opportunities at the California Community Colleges,” said Director of Communications Paige Marlatt Dorr.
Many community college students who are in need of financial assistance believe that there isn’t any available for two-year colleges.
The California Community Colleges are a system of two-year public colleges. According to icanaffordcollege.com there are 112 community colleges throughout the state serving nearly three million students each year, representing the largest system of higher education in the world. It is composed of 72 districts, serving more than 2.4 million students per year.
According to Dorr, while the California Community Colleges currently serves more than one million students with financial aid, totaling approximately $2.7 billion annually, there is still evidence that many Californians are unaware of their eligibility for financial aid at a community college.
Financial aid offices at the community colleges historically have not had the resources to make sure that all eligible students are aware of the opportunities available to them. “However, the funding from this initiative is helping the campuses reach and assist greater numbers of students,” added Dorr.
During the month of April the California Community Colleges host hundreds of free financial aid workshops at several campuses across the state. Students are given the opportunity to work one-on-one with experts and receive in to complete the applications effectively.
“Some people find the financial aid applications confusing, so to help the colleges offer free workshops on campuses and community locations across the state,” said Dorr.
Also this spring, the “I Can Afford College” campaign will hold a “$5,000 Free Money for Community College” sweepstakes. The winner will be rewarded with $5,000, which can be used to pay for college-related expenses and the runner up will receive an iPad that is filled with software for college.
“We typically do some sort of contest each year and the prize is always intended to help students pay for college and make their educational dreams become a reality,” said Dorr.
To enter and for more information visit www.icanaffordcollege.com. The contest will run from April 1 to June 23. The grand prize and second place winners will be announced on June 28.
For more information and/or how to apply for financial aid visit www.icanaffordcollege.com. The website provides students with financial aid information and connects them with professionals at their college to receive one-on-one assistance with the application process.
“It’s important to note that you can apply for financial aid year-round,” said Dorr.