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Student makes College Goal Oregon her goal
Photos and Story by James Hill
Filling out federal financial aid forms can be a daunting task, but there’s help available at the upcoming College Goal Oregon event.
On Saturday, Jan. 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at several PCC locations, Oregon will have its first coordinated statewide effort to help students and families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the required application for most need-based federal, state and campus-based financial aid.
Tigard’s Rocio Ceja-Roman attended last year’s event and was able to get financial aid to help her go back to college.
"It was great," she said. "A staff member helped me when I had questions. I was nervous at first, but the financial aid day last year was very helpful. The amount of money I received as a result of it has helped me to pay for half of my credits. I tell people I take one class and get one for free."
Any student wanting to fill out the FAFSA can come on College Goal Oregon day to get one-on-one assistance in filling out the form, regardless of where they plan to go to college. In addition to federal financial aid, they will be automatically considered for an Oregon Opportunity Grant through the Oregon Student Assistance Commission.
A team of trained PCC volunteers, including financial aid professionals, will provide assistance and support in person. Help will include filling out the worksheet, submitting the FAFSA online, and receiving confirmation that the final FAFSA has been processed.
PCC advisors will provide personalized assistance to future college students with completion of their form as well as provide scholarship workshops throughout the day to help students find dollars for school. Spanish language advisors will be available at Rock Creek, Cascade and Sylvania campuses.
"To me this event was 100 percent valuable," said Ceja-Roman.
She is proof it works now that she can afford to go to school. Ceja-Roman works at a Washington County health clinic as a medical assistant where she aids in patient care and serves as a translator. By attending PCC, Ceja-Roman hopes to enroll in a nursing program by 2008.
Her work isn’t confined to the clinic. At PCC, Ceja-Roman regularly volunteers her time through student government to work as a student ambassador. She’ll also be one of the many college volunteers at PCC to help students during College Goal Oregon.
Ceja-Roman isn’t your traditional college student. She enrolled at PCC when she got out of high school in 1996. She was studying in the college’s EMT program, but an unexpected pregnancy stopped her education. She became a mother who needed to provide for her child.
"My son is now at an age where I can go back to school at night," she said. "I started a year and a half ago. I have a 7 to 9 a.m. class that is the most flexible class I’ve ever taken. I can come in during the afternoon with my son where I can study without taking up valuable time at home."
Ultimately, she says she’d like to get her nursing degree and go back to the clinic she works part-time at to work as a nurse. All of this opportunity was made easier because she filled out a FAFSA form a year ago.
"It was a huge weight off my shoulders," Ceja-Roman said. "I had to work full-time and go to school, but with the financial aid help I’ve received I can work part-time. I can get closer to my goal."
Visit Financial Aid Day/College Goal Oregon for more information.
During College Goal Oregon, each PCC site will have a drawing to give away one $500 scholarship and one USB flash drive. This year’s sites will be the Cascade, Rock Creek and Sylvania campuses, and the Southeast Center.
This event is part of the national College Goal Sunday program that aims to help students access the millions of financial aid dollars available. The program started in Indiana in 1989 and has spread to more than 30 states. For more information about this important event, please visit College Goal Oregon.