College is expensive, but there are resources available that can ease the strain. UMOJA hosted the Financial Aid 101 Workshop on Tuesday to introduce students to the opportunities provided.
UMOJA counselor Melody Smith believed the event was a good idea because, as an academic counselor, she is asked questions about financial aid often.
“I don’t always get the opportunity to answer them or I refer them to financial aid for their specific scenarios,” Smith said. “I wanted the workshop to answer those one-on-one questions but also answer questions for when students transfer, because they don’t necessarily know that process either.”
According to Smith, students are confused about financial aid, especially those right out of high school.
“They don’t necessarily know or they just do BOG,” said Smith, referring to the Board of Governors fee waiver, which has now been replaced by the California College Promise Grant. “Or maybe they came in with the LA College Promise and they don’t necessarily understand why they have to do FAFSA.”
Archaeology major Jasmine Thompson, 19, is a first-year student who says she didn’t know anything about financial aid before today.
“This is probably the best I’ve got to understand what is going on with financial aid,” Thompson said.
Student worker and UMOJA student Jordan Rice, 21, attended the workshop and learned that he can still apply for a tax-free pell grant even as a BOG fee waiver recipient.
“I wanted to stay as far away from anything that is going to put me in debt. That’s not how you build wealth, owing somebody else money,” Rice said. “Lord knows, even though I’m driving my momma’s car right now I put a lot of gas money in there and repairs.”
It was the FAFSA deadline of March 2 approaching that prompted the workshop, according to Smith.
“Just having those dates ready I know roughly when I need to have those in,” Rice said.
Smith said that there are plans on having similar workshops in the future.
“I think having a Q&A with an opportunity for students to come again with those unanswered questions at different points throughout the semester would be very helpful,” Smith said.
Rice said the workshop was beneficial in ways other than scholarship deadlines.
“There’s always resources and different avenues you can take as well as scholarships,” Rice said. “It’s good to have those people in your contact. I know a number of students here shared contact information with the person that was doing the presentation.”