More Sacramento grant money gives hope to students

Students on financial aid programs at colleges in California may soon have access to more funding to cover the rising cost of education.

Two bills recently introduced in the legislature, SB291 and AB542 would increase grant money if passed.

Pierce College Dean of Student Services William Marmolejo explained that he would welcome anything coming down from Sacramento that can increase the amount of money that students receive.

“So if a student qualifies, we want them to get as much aid as possible because that will make their educational experience go faster because you can go full time, you can get all the books that you need and the support to pass your courses,” Marmolejo said.

Fernando Oleas, a full-time Pierce College faculty member, emphasized the importance of reducing obstacles so the students can commit themselves more to their educational goals.

“Sometimes we as faculty, when we’re out of the system already, we forget the struggle, the obstacles that our students have to go through,” Oleas said. “The more money that we can get to help the students and alleviate some of the burdens that they have financially will allow them to concentrate more in their academic endeavors. It’s necessary for students to stay focused on their paths and their careers and their goals and ambitions.”

Jared Mangapit, a Pierce student, on the other hand, explained why he doesn’t think more financial aid money is necessary at the community college level.

“I get enough for financial aid for the tuition, which is usually the bulk of all I need financially,” Mangapit said. “You’re at the very entry level of college. If you’re at like a UC or CSU, probably need more over there because knowing their costs are just way higher.”

According to Marmalejo, sometimes it’s a challenge to get students to accept the money that’s available.

“Students often say, ‘I’m going to hold off. I don’t want to use that money until I transfer to CSUN or UCLA and I’m gonna use my financial aid there,’ but a lot of times students don’t even get there because they have to work,” Marmolejo said.

Marmolejo explained that the student who comes to school prepared is probably going to benefit the most. Many students don’t even know financial aid is available to them or aren’t aware that they should see a counselor.

“A student who’s coming to us and they’ve already done orientation. They’ve already done assessment. They’ve already seen a counselor. They’re going to find out like, hey look, there’s money in financial aid, you know, apply. There might be other grants that you can qualify for,” Marmolejo said. “That student who is engaged in the process is going to benefit.”