EOPS and CARE just helping SMC students pursue their dreams

For many Santa Monica College students, money is scarce. With car payments, insurance, rent, and the ever-increasing price of textbooks and gas, school must often seem an impossible dream. It is no wonder students are constantly broke. We all desire a program that provides financial support for college that would decrease the economic stress that pegs our daily lives.

Luckily, two programs on campus are committed just to helping students financially. Extended Opportunity Programs Services and Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education both work together to help students achieve their educational goals.

EOPS is a state-funded program established in the '70s that provides educational and financial support services to eligible students who have historically experienced economic and educational disadvantages. EOPS serves over 1,400 students on campus and transfers hundreds every year.

Services offered include Math and English tutoring, book vouchers for the SMC bookstore, cap and gown purchases, four transfer-student fee waivers for applications to any Cal State or UC campus, dictionary sets, minimal school supplies, registration assistance and priority enrollment.

With eight counselors there is an abundance of counseling, such as transfer/career, vocational, personal and academic.

To be eligible for these services you must be a California resident, meet the state income requirements and be enrolled in 12 units of classes, with exceptions for recipients of the Department of Social Public Services.

There are many steps to the application process: you must apply and receive approval for the annual fee waiver, attend an EOPS new student orientation, complete the SMC English and Math Assessment test, and meet with an EOPS counselor to complete the eligibility process.

EOPS continues to grow tremendously since its establishment and Dr. Leonard Crawford, director of EOPS, has been with the program since 1971.

"My heart and love is with EOPS. I would like to make this program the best in the West," said Crawford.

EOPS/CARE Coordinator Sutida Boodparset said, "Dr. Crawford has worked in the chancellor's office in Sacramento so he wrote most of the guidelines for EOPS. This program gives students hope that come from educational and economical disadvantaged backgrounds. It helps tremendously, especially with counseling and priority enrollment."

With EOPS helping economically and educationally disadvantaged students, CARE is designed to recruit and assist recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF/CalWORK) who would like to attend college. The program is state-funded and provides additional assistance to meet the needs of eligible single parents.

The services include educational planning, books, transportation assistance, meal assistance and grants (to assist with childcare expenses and with other school-related costs).

To be in the program you must be EOPS-eligible, a single parent with at least one child under the age of 14 who receives TANF benefits, enrolled in at least 12 units, at least 18 years of age, a single head of household, and pursuing an educational, vocational or job training program at SMC, which leads to a certificate, degree or transfer objective.

The application process includes attendance at an EOPS orientation, submission of a CARE application with a current TANF verification and completion of a CARE orientation.

"We are in the process of establishing the CARE club, which is a support group for all parents," said Boodparset. Though CARE is a new program, it is in the process of creating great opportunities for the students in need of help at SMC.