Every POE Scholar has a mentor – a member of the volunteer organization who helps the student navigate their path through school. This help can range from being a great listener, to helping choose the right classes, finding the right housing, and even how to make critical life decisions. But no mentor activity is more important to each of these students than making sure they keep up with the right financial aid options. Since each POE scholar comes from a situation with significant financial constraints, financial aid can be an important difference between successful graduation and not.
However, the myriad financial aid options are complicated and ever-changing. To help POE mentors understand this better, on March 1, we held an evening tutorial to familiarize those interested in the financial aid picture. Three of our volunteers put hours into a presentation that would lay out the information for this overview. Just under 30 mentors attended the presentation by Wilson Cooper based on his work with Dana Fenwick, and Leslie Braun.
The material, which is also available on the POE Mentor site, covered:
- Cost of college attendance for a range of institutions
- Common types of financial aid
- How to qualify, including explanations of some critical California student programs FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or CADAA (California Dream Act Application)
- Some federal and state program details
- Annual requalification
- Community College details
- Local private scholarships
- DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) information
Moreover, the volunteers who spearheaded this effort can act as resources to other mentors who have questions based on their particular student’s situation.
At the end of the day, POE volunteers end up being students alongside their scholars: learning the ins and outs of financial aid and how to best apply it to each situation.