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California Community College Enrollment and Survival: Advice to the Independent Financial Aid Student

Updated: Apr 11, 2017 23:53
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Next month – most classes start August 18 – most of you ugly mugs will descend like locusts upon community college campuses with hopes of receiving your certificate in being an assistant to a nurse’s assistant. But, you haven’t enrolled in your classes yet. You’re sleepin’ and you’re a dummy. ENROLL NOW. Before the people who enrolled in summer classes realized they could have also enrolled in their fall classes at the very same time…the very same day.

Most bureaucratic staff are ill-prepared nincompoops. Sometimes it’s not their fault. Colleges are implementing new rules at such record speeds that the counselors – who’ve been used to stagnant protocol since the creation of the community college system – are often ill-informed. If you don’t ask the right questions with the right key phrases, you’re shit out of luck.

I bet you think that you’re going to get the best and most accurate counseling information from your college counselor, right? Wrong. You’re going to get the best financial aid information from fiancial aid? Wrong again.

Let me give you two scenarios. Scenario One: A few years ago the federal government – due to a historical record of student enrollment – made a decision that financial aid requirements/pre-reqs should be stricter. So, they slapped on an S.A.P and required everyone receiving financial aid to attend mandatory workshops. The financial aid staff gave me a printed itinerary of upcoming workshops and a lot of the dates were “TBD.” Well, there was no way I was going to be able to attend the TBD workshop – which is where you stand in line for an hour which is where they’ll hand you a deli number ticket which is where you hope they don’t reach the maximum auditorium seating number which is where they hand out the appeal paperwork that you have to sign which is how you get an appointment with a counselor which is who signs your paperwork and submits it which is one of the things you need to continue receiving financial aid – and meet the deadline that would assure my financial aid check came during the first week of classes, which is when most professors mandate that you have your required reading material, or they can choose to drop you.

I happened to be going to the counselor’s building anyway, where I mentioned the “TBD” list to the “quick question” counselor dude, when he said, “Oh, there’s one tomorrow. I don’t know why they didn’t print new itineraries.”

By luck, it worked out. Most counselors will give you wrong information because of A) you’re not communicating with the right keywords B) financial aid rules don’t apply to those who aren’t on financial aid and most counselors forget that some students wouldn’t be allowed to attend college without government subsidies.

Scenario two: In the beginning of my academic education, a counselor asked meif I wanted to get my A.A., I said yes, they handed me a yellow sheet – A.A. requirements. What they did not do is ALSO hand me the blue/lavendar/periwinkle sheet – IEGTC, CSU/UC requirements for transfer. Never explaining that most of the classes on the blue sheet, are also on the yellow sheet. But, most classes on the yellow sheet…ARE NOT on the blue sheet. Which means, if you decide you want to transfer and have only been following the yellow sheet, you not only just took classes you didn’t need, you’re going to be in school longer, taking more classes, and thus racking up units closer to the 72 unit financial aid blockade until you’re no longer allowed to receive assistance and thus forced to take out a student loan.

Don’t be afraid to approach the unorthodox. You can – and I have – emailed department deans for their advice on topics related to their departments. If you’re an independent student, these scenarios unfold commonly throughout your academic career.

The below list gives you the meat of the operation. Hopefully this super basic bulletpoint list is in the correct step-by-step order.

– Fill Out FAFSA  – Apply for school (via CCC) – Download (or grab from campus) your school’s CSU-Breadth + IEGTC sheets – this shit is your bible. – Enroll/Register in classes  

Let’s start with STEP ONE: FAFSA, BOG Fee + EOP

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