Monday, January 20, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 46

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 1st, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 31

Cash for College workshops help students apply for aid


Upcoming Cash For College workshops co-presented by Allan Hancock College are just what they sound like.

The events—there are 42 in all—are presented along with Central Coast California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) and Cuesta College. Their aim is to get high school seniors to fill out applications that will get them money for college. The cornerstone of these events is the Free Application for Student Aid, better known as FAFSA. It’s an application designed to help financially disadvantaged students attend college. 

“Students who fill out the FAFSA are more likely to go to college than students who don’t,” said Diana Perez, a board member for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

The workshops are just one effort Perez and her partners are making to increase FAFSA completion rates. She’s also trying to get the school district to pass rules that would make filling out FAFSA applications mandatory for high school seniors. She presented the idea at a September school board meeting and said that when the board meets again on Oct. 8, it will be an actionable item.

Get cash for college
For more information and a complete list of workshop locations, contact Diana Perez at; call the Central Coast Cal-SOAP office at (805) 922-6966, Ext. 3710; toll-free (866) DIAL-AHC (342-5242), Ext. 3710. For more information about Cal-SOAP, visit For more information on Cal Grants, visit or call toll-free (888) CA-GRANT (224-7268). What to bring to a Cal-SOAP workshop: • Completed income tax forms from 2018 for parents and high school seniors, including W2s. • Social Security number (if available) for both students and parents. • Records of untaxed income such as welfare benefits (optional). • Social Security benefits, or child support payments. • Bank statements (optional). • Business records (optional). • Permanent resident or DACA card (if a student is not a U.S. citizen). • A list of colleges the student is interested in attending.

“This particular policy will encourage more students and parents to get it done,” she said. 

The new policy, if passed, will include an opt-out for students who don’t want to fill out the application, she said.

For those who opt in, Perez wants to make the application process as easy as possible. The workshops will offer one-on-one attention for those who need it, and all application events will have Spanish-speaking staff available. Staff will also be available to help with California Dream Act Applications as well as state and federal grants like Cal Grants.

The workshops began at Paso Robles High School on Oct. 1 and run through Feb. 27, 2020, at Hancock. Although the workshops are spread out across numerous locations, any student can attend any workshop.

Perez said some events have had up to 150 students attending with their parents, and she added that the application often takes about an hour to fill out.

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