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Schools offer help in finding college aid

Start the New Year off right, high school counselors advise.

On Jan. 2, log onto http://www.fafsa.ed.gov and get a “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

If you’re a high school senior who needs money to go to college, “it’s crucial” you file the financial aid application before March 2, said Rachelle Smith, career guidance technician at Bear River High School, and Terri Kopp, head counselor at Nevada Union High School.



“Deadlines are crucial,” Smith said.

If you’re a parent of a college-bound teenager, you’ll want to seek professional help at one of two “financial aid nights,” one at Bear River high School tonight or at Nevada Union Dec. 10. Lynn Fox, a financial aid counselor from the University of the Pacific, will be on hand to walk students and their families through the application process, Kopp said.




“He has a lot of humor,” Kopp said about Fox.

A great deal of financial aid is handled through a government clearing house, Smith said. All colleges look at the forms and base financial aid on what they see there, she said.

The form asks for a family’s income, size and the age of the oldest parent to determine a student’s need, Kopp said. “There are so many variables.”

Some students get nearly a full-ride scholarship to go to colleges out east: Some students with at least a B average get Cal Grants for almost $3,500 to attend a UC school or $1,800 to attend a state university, she said.

“It gets very complicated,” Kopp said. “That’s why we bring our Mr. Lynn Fox up here.

Kopp advises families to fill out the form on paper and then file it on-line.

“The government is really trying to get everyone to do this on-line,” Kopp said.

Some scholarships are offered on merit rather than need so, “We do encourage everyone to come, even parents who think they make too much money,” Kopp said.

“We try to make it easy,” Kopp said. “It is a pain.”

According to a survey performed last year of Bear River’s 270 graduating seniors, 92 planned to attend a four-year college; 119 planned to attend a two-year community college; 19 said they planned to attend a vocational school; four percent planned to enter the military; two percent planned to become foreign exchange students and five percent planned to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.

The response to the survey was 98 percent, Smith said.

In a follow-up survey of the 92 college-bound seniors, 38 went to one of the California State University campuses; 15 went to one of the University of California campuses; 16 went to private colleges and 23 went to college out of-state.

Of those headed for community colleges, 103 enrolled in Sierra College, which has campuses on both Placer and Nevada counties. Sixteen went to other community colleges.

Out of Nevada Union High School’s 525 graduating seniors in June, about 40 percent went on to a four-year college, Kopp estimated. About 50 percent indicated they planned to go to a two-year, technical or vocational college.

For more information and to get a form, go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Financial Aid Nights at local high schools

WHEN AND WHERE: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bear River High School’s multi-purpose room

WHEN AND WHERE: 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at Nevada Union High School’s Baggett Theater


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