CALPIRG Conference Informs Students of Financial Aid Benefits

Congratulations: you are broke, exhausted and doing poorly in school. You realize that it will take you much longer than expected to transfer out of community college.  And you also realize that you are not alone.

Recent reports of plummeting grades and an increase in work hours resulted in yesterday's release of CALPIRG's "Working Too Hard to Make the Grade: How Fewer Work Hours and More Financial Aid Can Help California Community College Students Succeed."  

The press conference held in the quad alerted students of the importance of utilizing the many financial outlets at the school.  Santa Monica College student Unique Battle shared his story about his challenge pursuing a degree.   

Battle has been in and out of school for the past ten years due because he needed to work to supplement his income.   He did not know about government financial aid opportunities and thus dropped out a number of times to work and save money. Battle will finally be able to transfer to UC Berkeley next year.   

CALPIRG surveyed 2,679 students on campuses across the state to understand the connection between academic success, student work habits and students' knowledge of financial aid possibilities. Their research proved that only 24 percent of students achieve their goal of transferring to a four-year school within six years.   

Students' need to make money was the reason behind the statistic.  In a press release, CALPIRG urges "financial aid offices to reevaluate their outreach methods and messaging to ensure that they are emphasizing certain points."

Students can get the necessary information from the SMC financial aid office. "The misconception of financial aid needs to be cleared," CALPIRG representative Chloe Kaliman said. "Even if you don't think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply."  

As the college application season begins, students are looking for every opportunity to save. They can do this by exploring the financial aid opportunities in the Board of Governor's Waiver, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and Pell Grant. 

Funding provided by these institutions could assist in the process of developing education and furthering the success of the state.

"Of course we are in a recession but if we don't fund higher education now, we're just undermining our own future success as a state," Kaliman said.

The increase of community colleges with thriving transfer rates is not bright.  Now is the time for students to be proactive and find other financial sources to keep their pockets full and GPA high.