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Latino State News

Students and Parents in Chicago Missing Out on College Financial Aid

Students and parents in Chicago who may be missing out on financial aid to pay for college are now getting assistance as part of Financial Aid Awareness Week (FAAW), running Feb. 6 thru 12.

City leaders and community organizations kicked off the campaign today and shined a much needed spotlight on the vital resources available to Chicago’s young adults. Alderman John Pope joined the City Colleges and the Chicago Treasurer’s Office and encouraged applicants to start the conversation about paying for college and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible.

More than 40 per cent of community college students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant did not apply in 2007‐08 and nearly 25 per cent of eligible students attending four‐year public institutions did not apply for aid, according to a recent report from the College Board and the American Association of Community Colleges. “As college tuition continues to rise, access to financial aid is a critical need among America’s low income and first generation students and their families,” said David Marzahl, President of the Center for Economic Progress, a non‐profit organization that provides free tax and financial services to lowincome
working families.

“However, to access that aid, they must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid, or FAFSA, form. It’s a complex document that often keeps students who need this funding the most from receiving it.

Students that fill out the FAFSA are 50% more likely to attend college.

With nationwide college attendance rates for low‐income households lagging 20 to 40 percent behind their higher‐income counterparts, completion of the FAFSA form is recognized as a major barrier for students and their families as they struggle to understand how to finance their college educations. In addition to bringing awareness to this issue, organizations like the Center for Economic Progress, Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) and Ladder Up will help students complete the FAFSA. The sooner the FAFSA application is submitted, the more likely eligible students can receive the maximum financial aid.

“Eighty percent of today’s fastest growing careers require a postsecondary degree. As the job market grows more competitive, those without a college degree will be left further behind,” said Pam Flaherty, president and chief executive officer of the Citi Foundation. “By supporting low income and first generation students and their families through this critical step on the path to college, we will help more of them realize their college dreams and build successful careers.