Financial Aid Awarness Fair aims to inform

By Joe Moreno | Staff Writer

The financial aid process need not be one of confusion, wasted time and missteps.

So before you give up, telling yourself that you would not qualify anyway and throwing your computer out of the window in anger, know that help available to those who actively pursue it.

With that end in mind, the Financial Aid Office will host a Financial Aid Literacy Awareness Fair on April 10 in the Campus Center Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s purpose is to help inform students about the many services available to them at Citrus College.

“The whole idea of the fair is for literacy, for students to receive information about financial aid and to learn more about our process,” said Carol Thomas, director of financial aid.

Representatives from Citrus College student services – including Disabled Students Programs and Services, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, the Veterans Center, the Citrus College Foundation, Student Employment, Student Affairs and the Student Health Center – will be at the event to help educate students on programs around campus that may benefit them.

“It takes all of us working together to help students matriculate through college and be students of completion,” Thomas said.

Community vendors from Foothill Credit Union, the Department of Social Services, H&R Block and V.I.T.A. Tax Services will also be in attendance to help guide students through everything from tax credits to health insurance.

Students who need help navigating the Covered CA Health Insurance Application will be able to consult with representative from the Department of Social Services and learn how to become compliant with the Affordable Care Act, Thomas said.

During the 2011-2012 school year 62 percent of students at Citrus College received some form of financial aid, while 47 percent received federal financial aid, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Whether a student is a freshman just starting his/her college journey or a student looking to transfer in the fall, Thomas said there will be vendors there to help with each aspect of the financial aid process.

“This is for every financial aid student … it’s for staff to understand the process, too,” Thomas said.

There will also be games, prize giveaways and a free meal provided by Carl’s Jr. for students who participate in the fair.

“Honestly, I think students need guidance to help apply for financial aid,” said David Perez, 21, an accounting major at Citrus. “The very first time applying it was confusing, but after that it was easy. I’ve been at this school for three years now so I know what I’m doing.”

The fair will afford students the opportunity have their questions answered by professionals who will be able to offer advice as well as provide students with literature on their particular service.

“There’s nothing like having someone in person to be able to ask your questions to,” Thomas said.

Students can expect more than just a workshop on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They will be able to discuss the Cal Grant, provisions of AB540, tax credit information, Pell Grant and scholarships opportunities.

The Citrus College Foundation will be on hand to encourage students to apply for scholarships. The Foundation offered 58 scholarships last year, ranging from $250 to $2,500, totaling $112,000, according to Paula Green, Citrus College director of communications.

Students who are looking to cash in on tax credits can consult with H&R Block.

Joe Sanchez, a tax expert with H&R Block in Azusa, said the company will be on hand to help students understand and take advantage of government programs which may help pay for expense such as fees, books, housing, mileage and materials.

The Financial Aid Department will also be seeking feedback from students on the programs and services offered at Citrus College by having them complete a survey.

“This is what we use to know how students feel about the services their receiving. I want to know what they like and what they don’t like,” Thomas said. “We are all about improvement and if there’s something we can do better.”

Students who are unable to attend the fair may stop by the Financial Aid Office to receive information they may have missed out on, Thomas said. The Financial Aid Office is located in the Student Services Building and is open Monday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Don’t be afraid to come over if you have a question, or call us,” Thomas said.

For more information of the Financial Aid Literacy Awareness Fair visit the financial aid page on the Citrus College website. While there, students may also check for other financial aid workshops to be offered throughout the semester.