SACRAMENTO - Nearly 3 million students are served by the 112 California community colleges annually, representing the largest system of higher education in the world. Of those, nearly 200,000 are African-American and only 66 percent of those students received financial aid in 2008-09 leaving a large portion of African-American students who are not taking full advantage of financial aid opportunities. According to Mark Kantrowitz's 2009 Student Aid Policy Analysis on FAFSA Completion Rates by Level and Control of Institution, low and moderate-income students who are eligible for financial aid are the least likely to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid go unused each year, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Davis & Associates Communications and a representative from the "I Can Afford College" campaign will host a briefing on Thursday, February 17, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. on the statewide initiative to raise awareness of the availability of financial aid year-round at California community colleges.
For many, California community colleges are the gateway to a more successful career and a better life. Community colleges provide basic skills education, career training and two-year degrees, and prepare students for transferring to four-year colleges and universities. Many current and prospective students are in need of financial aid to make their higher education goals a reality. Unfortunately many students assume they won't qualify for aid and therefore don't apply, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid unused every year. During the 2007-08 school year, an estimated 500,000 community college students were eligible for aid, but did not apply.
There are many different types of financial aid, including grants, scholarships and fee waivers, which don't have to be repaid, as well as loans which must be repaid. In the 2009-10 academic school year alone,
141,529 African-American students received financial aid (California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, February 2011); consider all those who could have benefited as well had they simply applied.
The "I Can Afford College" campaign informs current and prospective students about their financial aid options at the California Community Colleges and connects them with financial aid experts to receive one-on-one assistance completing the forms.