Are You Missing Out on Free Money for College?

Posted on: 9/12/2018


Have you ever heard a classmate or a fellow community college student say that they did not apply for financial aid because their parents make too much money?

According to Dennis Schroeder, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, that is a common misconception on campus about financial aid.

“The truth is, the only way to find out is to complete the FAFSA,” Schroeder said. “Eligibility looks at financial need, enrollment status, and your cost of attendance. We’ve had students who thought their parents made too much money only to find out that they qualified for a Pell Grant.”

The Pell Grant is free money for college that does not have to be repaid. An award can be as large as $6,095 per year and the money can be used for living expenses and pretty much anything else students need.

“It’s a pretty sweet deal, particularly for students who have already received the California College Promise Grant,” Schroeder said. “Since the Promise Grant covers their tuition, these students are free to spend their Pell Grant money on whatever they need.”

“We even know of students who were able to quit their part-time jobs or work less hours during the week so they could focus on school.”

The California College Promise Grant, formerly known as the BOG fee waiver, has a relatively simple application process. With no tuition to worry about, students can redirect any money they have toward books and other living expenses.

And while two-thirds of L.A. Mission College students already receive the Promise Grant, Schroeder is confident that most Mission students would qualify if they took the time to apply.

The deal gets even sweeter for students who enroll in 15 units. They qualify for the Student Success Completion Grant (SSCG) if they are Cal Grant recipients, which results in an additional $4,000 per year in assistance.

“With all the money available, there is no excuse for not applying,” said Marisol Velazquez, financial aid supervisor at L.A. Mission College.

She said that some students don’t want to take the time to complete the FAFSA, which can be fairly simple if you have all your documents ready.

“As long as they have their Social Security number, tax returns, bank account balances, and records of investments, it should be a pretty smooth process,” Velazquez said.

“And if students run into trouble during the application, they can stop by our office to get assistance.”

For more information about the FAFSA and the California College Promise Grant, contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at 818-364-7648.

To get started on the FAFSA, visit 

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