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Santa Barbara City College helps students apply for financial aid at Financial Aid Fest

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Megan Ortega had a difficult transition from high school to Santa Barbara City College— one that almost led her to dropping out of school.

“ I was struggling as I came as a student, and it was a difficult time, you know, being straight out of high school. And a lot of my friends came here,” said Santa Barbara City College graduate Megan Ortega.

She says getting financial aid is what kept her going—not having the worries of mounting student debt holding her back.

“Financial aid was a big or the main reason why I stayed, because students think of that money and it's motivation, right? They're paying you to go to school. And it's just unreal to think about that. Like, I could be a part time employee and actually, you know, focus and be a full time student while getting support from financial aid. It honestly helped out a lot,” said Ortega.

A couple years later Ortega is working full time at her alma mater, helping other students navigate the financial aid application process at Santa Barbara City College’s Financial Aid Fest.

Many students needed help submitting the new and condensed FAFSA application.

Other students sought help submitting the Dream Act Application.
“There hasn't been a major change to the FAFSA since the nineties, so people who've been filling them out for for the kids for a long time will encounter something brand new,” said SBCC’s Director of Financial Aid Maureen Goldberg.

Whereas the FAFSA provides federal aid to U.S. citizens, the Dream Act provides state funded aid to undocumented students.

Both forms of funding ensure higher education is equitable regardless of financial or legal status. 
“ Any time you're dealing with tax information or any federal documents, it can be just a scary application. And if you don't know the lingo with the financial aid, then it can be a little daunting for sure,” said Student Program Advisor Yesenia Garcia.

The deadline to submit the FAFSA is March 2nd. 
The Dream Act application is due April 2nd. 

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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