Financial aid town hall meeting informs students

By Karen Gonzalez

The Dream Act program, specifically for nonresidential AB 540 students, will commence in 2013. This program is for students who are either documented or undocumented nonresidents that have attended a high school for at least three years or students who have earned their GED and are of legal immigration status.

If the student does not have a legal immigration status, then they are required to fill out an affidavit confirming that they have filed or will be filing an application to legalize their immigration status as soon as they are able to do so. The Dream Act application is available on the ELAC website in the financial aid news section.

The federal pell grant program will also be changing in 2013. If a fulltime student has been applying for the pell grant for six years straight, then they will be disqualified to apply for it in the seventh year. Although, there are other grants a student can apply for and can be thoroughly researched in the financial aid website or at the financial aid office.

Linda Fong, manager of the financial aid office, organized a town hall meeting at ELAC behind the student services building on November 14, 2012. Carmelo Navichoque, financial aid technician, conducted the two hour question and answer meeting to inform students about the financial aid changes that will be occurring early next year.

There were also some reminders addressed at the meeting. If a student has the habit of enrolling and dropping classes after they have received their financial aid money, it is strongly recommended to go to the financial aid office to confirm if they are able to either keep the money or deposit the money back to the school.

After all, you receive the financial aid by the amount of units you are enrolled in.

There are other risks in not receiving financial aid when one applies for the FAFSA, and that one common risk is earning bad grades. When this occurs, it is recommended to apply for the appeal form (available at?) and explain why the student has received unsatisfactory grades.

This explanation should be attached to legitimate documents that prove why the student was unable to earn satisfactory grades at the end of the semester.

There is a possibility of having the appeal form approved or rejected, Navichoque added, “[It] depends on the explanation and the documents attached to it”. There is a three step process of approving an appeal form and it begins with the financial aid supervisor, followed by the financial aid management, and if it gets to the financial aid committee, then the student is doing something that they really are not supposed to.

Navichoque repeatedly reminded students at the meeting that it is extremely important to apply for the FAFSA as early as Jan. 1st through March. It is critical for the student to apply for financial aid then because they will be able receive their award letter as early as the first week of school.

FAFSA money comes from taxes, and if a college student pays taxes, then they are technically paying for their education. Take advantage and apply early for financial aid and other grants and programs. Information is updated often on the financial aid website.

Work study is also available for unemployed dependent and independent students and can be checked off on the FAFSA application, if interested. Financial aid supervisor, Maria Chekosman, said “The technicians check it. They see the eligibility and award the student with a specific amount”.

If the student is independent, they can earn up to $3,000, and a dependent student can earn up to $2,000. The maximum hours that a student can work is twenty hours a week.

The financial aid office members served free pizza, water, and cookies for students who attended the meeting.

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