Kim Miles, assistant dean in Financial Aid at PCC, assists a student and her family with her online FAFSA completion at the Gabrielino High School Cash for College workshop Saturday. (Rocio Vera/Courier)

Deadlines are quickly advancing for students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2014-2015 school year, and the combined efforts of Pasadena City College (PCC), Gabrielino High School, and other area schools, who seek to make the daunting process easier.

In order to help reduce potential mistake-inducing delays, representatives from the Financial Aid department aided in providing hands-on assistance to San Gabriel Valley area high school students and parents with their FAFSA form completion this Saturday, at Gabrielino, Alhambra and Rowland Heights High Schools.

With plans underway for their own event since October of last year, and in the wake of participating at PCC’s event last week, Jonathan Lyons, assistant principal of Gabrielino High School, spoke passionately of the program workshops that took place on their school facilities this Saturday.

“They’re getting the opportunity to go right on a computer,” Lyons said. “Or if they have their paperwork, then fill it out their paperwork right now. They’re walking out of here with a completed form.”

PCC presenters like Kim Miles, assistant dean in Financial Aid, Anthony Smith, outreach coordinator, and Anita Sum, financial aid adviser, along with other PCC staff members, covered three high schools within the day, providing assistance to as many as 800 students and parents per school.

“Everything went very well,” said Miles, who was a presenter for all three English workshop sessions in the school’s library. “The first and third sessions were standing room only.

As an added plus, an additional incentive was given to bring attendance to the events: the opportunity to win a $1,000 scholarship from Cash for College.

“We had 235 students who preregistered, which was half the students in our senior class,” said Lyons, of his event’s attendees. “And I think 80 to 85 percent of that has already shown up in our first two sessions.”

At Gabrielino alone, there were four separate workshops in English, Spanish, Cantonese, and for the AB540 for undocumented students, and in three scheduled hour and a half sessions throughout the day.

The workshops provide mutual benefits not only to the students and parents, but the participating high schools and colleges as well.

“The primary benefit is that more [students] will get accurate applications, “ said Lyons.

Lyons indicated that there are some tangible costs involved to hold events like these, which require additional staffing, setup and IT support.

“Cash for College does provide reimbursement for the schools,” Lyons said. “If you have the bulk of the participants fill out an exit survey online, the school can apply for a reimbursement. So it is pretty much no cost to us.”

PCC disseminated flyers throughout the San Gabriel Valley district schools to encourage students to complete applications for financial aid early, which helped bring schools like Gabrielino, Blair, Arcadia, Temple City, and South Pasadena to participate in last week’s combined Cash for College and TRIO PCC campus event as well.

According to Smith, only 92 students identified from the college participated in the annual event last week, which in addition to Cash for College, is also inclusive to assist TRIO, the Federal outreach program to provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

But the campus continues to provide such workshops to assist with the March 2, 2014 Federal and State deadline for the 2014-2015 year. The PCC Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid labs workshops can be scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, where students have a choice of three sessions available per day, according to Miles.

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