Financing education


Guest speakers Martin Serrato and Prudencio Merino, representatives from Students Without Borders, came to Downey High on Nov. 17 to encourage students to apply for financial aid. Serrato and Merino were able to answer many questions that parents and students had about the AB540 law, which is a law for undocumented students to pay tuition and go to school in the U.S.

Jessica Xilo, Parents & Teachers Editor

As college application deadlines approach, Tina Campos, Diana Porras, and Rio Hondo Representatives came together in the B-building Theatre for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Night on Nov. 17 to provide information about financial aid.


Students and parents attended the event hoping to gain insight about ways to pay for college. Guest speaker Diana Porras, Projects Manager at Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s office, led the informational meeting. She spoke about the approximate annual cost of attending public or private colleges, but then discussed how families can pay for their students’ education. Porras emphasized the importance of government assistance, such as grants and federal student loans.


“[FAFSA Night] helped me understand the different scholarships and grants that I qualify for,” senior Evelyn Garcia said. “There is money out there, but we have to know how to get our hands on it.”


In addition to information about paying for college, Porras explained the purpose for the FAFSA application. She gave resources and information about requirements for the Cal Grant, since the FAFSA form is a component of it.

Porras assured students that looking for scholarships and applying to college takes time, dedication, and persistence. Campos, the College Career Center manager, was able to give additional information about scholarship links and deadlines through the Downey High website.


After Porras gave her presentation, Rio Hondo representatives from the Students Without Borders Club began to speak about undocumented students, also known as AB540 students. Their purpose was to inform those students about ways of paying for college regardless of their immigration status. They briefly described different legislations affecting college students and elaborated on the specific requirements to be considered an AB540 student.


At the conclusion of the event, most students and parents left with a better understanding of what is required to receive financial aid. Senior Joselyn Franco attended the informational meeting with her father.


“Diana Porras was really informative about the many scholarships that the Congresswoman supports,” Franco said. “My dad thought it was really helpful and enjoyed the fact that he was able to ask questions during the presentation and after.”


Not only did the meeting answer questions regarding financial aid, it also alleviated some of the stress from students. Senior David Kang believes that the event was worth the time to answer students’ questions.


“In a struggling economy there is always some kind of relief found in the possibility of reducing the already overpriced tuition found in many prestigious colleges,” Kang said. “FAFSA Night helped me gain insights of how the grant system works and satisfied all the questions and doubts I had.”


With the stressful months yet to come for seniors, FAFSA Night was one more opportunity for students to obtain information about college.