Local non-profit commits to assist disadvantaged communities during financial aid season, despite pandemic challenges

October 6, 2020 /

Financial aid season is here!

While many students are preparing their respective 2019 tax forms to input on the free financial aid applications, FAFSA or California Dream Act (CADAA), there are others who have never heard of such educational aids. Thus, contributing to the millions of students who fail on acquiring a higher education.

This 2020 year is no exception. With a life-threating pandemic, the once struggling situation now seems like a greater obstacle that non-profit organizations and educational institutions will have to tackle with never-before-seen plans and strategies to continue offering free services to Kern County youth.

Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation (Y2L), in collaboration with programs like Cal-SOAP, CSUB TRIO, CAMP HEP, MiniCorps, and the Kern High School District (KHSD), have been working hand-in-hand to guarantee graduating high school students a helping resource during these unprecedented times.

How will financial aid assistance be offered during times of social distancing? Jessica Trejo, Executive Director of Y2L, along with her team, have been heavily focused on creating a smooth and comprehensible process for the upcoming “Cash for College” (C4C) workshops that the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) organizes for the goal-oriented purpose of helping students complete their designated financial aid application.

Students who are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents should file the FAFSA application. Students who are Undocumented, DACA recipients, TPS status, or hold a U visa should complete the CADAA application. Foster youth students should file the Chafee Grant application, if applicable based on familial circumstances.

Although these workshops will be directly hosted by various high schools throughout Kern County, efforts from Y2L and Cal-SOAP will be of great support, as these agencies know the struggles of marginalized communities, like immigrant families, rural towns, and non-tech savvy individuals.

All workshops will be held via the video conferencing software, ZOOM. While many are thankful for this technology, others see it as a limitation due to their lack of familiarity with such innovative resource. Trejo and her team have initiated measures of promoting financial aid by reaching out to Spanish-speaking news stations to make financial aid visible to people who typically do not seek help.

Trejo expressed a successful outreach tactic involving cultural assurance, which has highlighted Y2L in past C4C workshops. As a Hispanic-serving organization, Trejo is even willing to surpass the limitations of social distancing and welcome students into their office with proper and cautious CDC guidelines to ensure an equal opportunity to those struggling to cope with technology.

The 2021-2022 financial aid applications also come with misconceptions. Trejo shines light onto some of these myths:

  • Financial aid is FREE money and granted to students based on financial need.
  • Financial aid is for all, NOT just for high achieving students.
  • Financial aid is NOT only for students who will attend prestigious universities.
  • Financial aid welcomes all types of financial incomes; accommodated families can benefit from the Middle Class Scholarship.
  • FAFSA/CADAA is NOT loans.

As the CSAC Regional Coordinators of Kern County, Trejo emphasizes her team as experts on all categories of the financial aid application processes and C4C workshops. If any person has a quick question or would like to set a one-on-one appointment with a Y2L staff member, please call (661)374-8817 or emailing info@y2lef.org.

Overseeing the Cash for College program and any financial aid inquires is Y2L Program Coordinator, Alexia Godinez, which can be reached at (661)374-8817 ext.108 or emailing agodinez@y2lef.org.

Y2L will be raffling 5 scholarships with a value of $500 each. The only requirement to be eligible is to be a graduating high school senior and attend a workshop. Best of luck!

To learn more about Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation and its services, please visit their website: www.y2lef.org.

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Erick Jared

"Erick Jared is a committed college student at California State University, Bakersfield. He hopes to acquire a higher education to give back to his community. He is involved in Latinos Unidos Por Educación (L.U.P.E), which encourages a higher education for all Dreamers while providing a safe space to familiarize with other Dreamers."