For Immediate Release – College Access Plan leads a free college applications workshop for PUSD seniors and their families

For Immediate Release – College Access Plan leads a free college applications workshop for PUSD seniors and their families

Pasadena, CA – October 15, 2014 – College Access Plan (CAP) (www.collegeaccessplan.org), a Pasadena non-profit organization that provides comprehensive college readiness programs for Pasadena high schools, has teamed up with PUSD’s PasadenaLEARNs after school program and The Caltech Y to provide a free college applications workshop at 6PM on October 29, 2014, at Caltech (Winnett, 2nd floor) for graduating high school seniors and their families.

For the third year, the CAP and LEARNs collaboration ensures students at four PUSD high schools have drop-in, comprehensive college success support after school. This partnership has provided individualized advisement, including applications tools, SAT preparation, long-term goal setting, and financial aid access, to over 1,000 students. By teaming up with The Caltech Y, which provides low-cost tutoring to public school 8th to 12th graders who struggle in math or science, CAP and LEARNs can address the questions families and students have as they work through the college applications process in a beautiful university campus environment! California public college applications are due on November 30th, with private school deadlines looming soon after.

Maria Toliver, Grant Manager for LEARNs, says, “The Parent/Student Applications Workshop at CalTech will be a monumental event! It will provide an opportunity for students and parents to acquire more information about the college application process and be introduced to a prestigious university in Pasadena.”

The workshop will be led by CAP’s founder and Executive Director, Mo Hyman, who is thrilled by this opportunity. She says, “Because our on-campus programs occur right after school, we have too few chances to meet with the families of our students, and we know that they have questions and concerns about the applications process: How do we choose which schools are right for our senior? How will colleges evaluate my student? How much will college cost? An opportunity to involve them in the conversation alongside their students really allows us to holistically serve our seniors and ensure they are armed with all the information they need during this stressful season.”

The workshop will provide general information about the college applications process to 4-year public and private colleges as well as community colleges and will respond to questions families have as they wade through applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and more. Families will also learn about other after school programs that are available on their students’ PUSD school campuses and around the community.

SAT Prep Classes Coming to Muir, Blair, and PHS

SAT Prep Classes Coming to Muir, Blair, and PHS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

College Access Plan Teams Up to Provide No-Cost SAT Class to Juniors



Pasadena, CA – March 27, 2013 – College Access Plan (CAP) (www.collegeaccessplan.org), a Pasadena nonprofit organization, will partner with Pasadena LEARNS and Mustangs on the Move provide 120 juniors at John Muir High, Pasadena, and Blair high schools with a no-cost, eight-week SAT preparatory course. Students will participate in eight hours of formal instruction from Study Smart Tutors, an SAT Prep company that partners with nonprofits and schools to design courses tailored to a specific population of students, particularly those with historically low test scores. CAP’s staff will provide an additional eight hours of follow up instruction, including practice tests, study sessions, and course homework assistance.

The first sessions for this program will meet during the first week of April, and students will gather for two hours once a week for eight weeks. The goal of this program is to provide students with the strategies and practice that will help them to increase their score potential at schools where many students traditionally score below the national average in all three areas of the SAT Reasoning test. Over the past four years, only 30% of PUSD’s students have scored above average on this test versus 41% in Los Angeles County overall according to DataQuest.

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Financial Aid Next Steps for Seniors

Financial Aid Next Steps for Seniors

CAP students spent a ton of time filling out the FAFSA and CSS Profile, searching for scholarships, and doing their college financial planning, but what do you do when all the forms are filed? Here’s a quick guide to your financial aid next steps!

1. The SAR Report: This report, which you have likely already received from the US Department of Education, indicates your EFC–your Expected Family Contribution. This is the amount that the government believes your family should pay for your college education this year. This number can change year-to-year depending upon your income and/or your parent(s)’s income. Your SAR also includes a list of the information you gave on your FAFSA. If any of this information is incorrect, you need to correct it on your FAFSA immediately. Just log in at fafsa.ed.gov.

2. The Award Letter from your colleges: This letter determines what financial aid you’ve received in the form of Federal and State grants (like a Pell Grant or a Cal Grant), how much Work Study you qualify for, what scholarships you qualify for through the college itself, how much you qualify for in federal Stafford loans, and additional funds for which you may qualify. EVERY AWARD LETTER LOOKS DIFFERENT, so this can be a bit confusing.
NOTE: You do not have to accept all of the loans and/or work study you are offered. You may have received scholarships from other sources that make up for some of the cost to you and your family, so you will need to recalculate your awards based on these external factors.

3. Getting More Aid: Look, this is not likely to happen for everyone; however, some students can illustrate that they have financial need that extends beyond the funding they’ve been given, and that, if they do not receive more aid, they will not be able to attend college. Most colleges have an appeals process through the financial aid office, so call your school’s financial aid department immediately if you want to learn more. Generally, the colleges will want to see a lot of paperwork to back up your claim–you’ll need proof of unemployment or a new rental agreement or proof of whatever other expense your family claims has changed since completing the FAFSA.

4. Once you’ve chosen a school, search that school’s website for scholarships. Most colleges have scholarships available only to their students, but get on this FAST–these awards can be very competitive.

5. Be mindful of the cut-off date to accept your financial aid awards–it will be noted on the award letter, and you must inform your school’s financial aid office of your plans prior to this date.

5. Continue your Search: look for local and regional scholarships and educate yourself on the types of financial aid you are considering. Want to know more about your Stafford Loans? Visit www.StaffordLoan.com

Quick Reminders:

Pell Grant: This is funding from the Federal Government that you do not have to pay back and can total in any amount up to $5,550

Cal Grant: This is a grant from the State of California, and it comes in various amounts depending upon your GPA, financial need, and the college you plan to attend (must be located in California). Learn more about the Cal Grant A, B, and C here.

Work Study: This program makes it easier for you to get a great job on or off campus while you are in school, and the money you make can help you to pay your college costs. When you choose your college, the best course of action is to contact the financial aid or work study office immediately to learn more about job opportunities.

Stafford Loans: These are funds that you have to pay back, but the interest rates are low, and certain career tracks may even qualify you for loan forgiveness programs down the road. You always want to take your subsidized loan amount before dipping into unsubsidized loans. The best course of action regarding loans is research. You can make an appointment with your school’s financial aid counselor if you are confused or concerned about loans.

Private loans: There are additional opportunities to receive loans for college through private banks and financial institutions. If your family is interested in pursuing loan options in addition to Stafford Loans, you may want to speak with Mo or Lina at CAP, your college counselor, or your college’s financial aid office to develop your college funding plan.

Most of all, CAP is available to help you navigate this confusing process. JMHS students can join us Tuesday, April 17th, from 3-5pm for a Financial Aid Next Steps workshop in A124. See you there!

FTC Freshmen Host A Visit from USC Admissions Counselor

FTC Freshmen Host A Visit from USC Admissions Counselor

On the first of our bi-monthly meetings, FTC freshmen continued with their College Exploration curriculum by welcoming a special guest from USC, Admissions Counselor Sarah Esquivel. At last month’s meeting we spent time researching colleges, admissions requirements, majors, and university life, so the students were full of questions about the admissions process and expectations for a private university like USC.

The focus of our round-table discussion with Sarah was figuring out what it takes to be a competitive candidate for admission and thanks to Sarah’s experience in admissions at both Occidental College and USC, she was able to share some extremely helpful and insightful guidance to the freshmen. For over an hour the students and Sarah engaged in conversation together and each freshman was able to ask Sarah their own questions about college, spanning every topic from the application process and financial aid, to dorm life and college class sizes. The students were particularly interested in what they could start doing as freshmen, and continue to do throughout their high school career, to help raise their chances at getting in to good college.

At the end of our meeting the students used their FTC binders to write down Sarah’s Top 5 Most Important Factors for College Admissions and brainstorm ways to accomplish all five points by the time they are seniors. Not only did they leave with a set of tangible goals, but also Sarah’s direct contact info for any future admissions questions they might not have had a chance to ask! Our FTC freshmen expressed that getting to meet and speak to a college counselor as ninth graders has put them “ahead of the game” and has helped create a college-going environment from the very start of their time at John Muir High School.

 

By Lina Calderon-Morin, CAP Program Coordinator

CAP to Provide 40 Juniors With No-Cost SAT Course

CAP to Provide 40 Juniors With No-Cost SAT Course

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pasadena, CA – February 15, 2012 -

College Access Plan (CAP) (www.collegeaccessplan.org), a Pasadena nonprofit organization, has received funding from the Pasadena Community Foundation to provide 40 juniors at John Muir High School with a seven-week SAT preparatory course. Students will participate in six hours of formal instruction from Study Smart Tutors, an SAT Prep company that partners with nonprofits and schools to design courses tailored to a specific population of students, particularly those with historically low test scores. CAP’s staff will provide an additional eight hours of follow up instruction, including practice tests, study sessions, and course homework assistance.

Alexia, a Muir senior who was one of 40 junior participants in last year’s course, says that Study Smart’s facilitator, Jack, “was willing to help students out, and he fully understood the test.” She thinks that this year’s students, who will benefit from expanded program hours, are “lucky because they get more sessions, more time, and more opportunities to meet.” Alexia encourages this year’s juniors to “be prepared and do all the homework,” and she describes her experience in last year’s course as “awesome.”

The first session for this program will meet on March 1st, and students will gather for two hours every Thursday for seven weeks. The goal of this program is to provide students with the strategies and practice that will help them to increase their score potential at a school where students traditionally score below the national average in all three areas of the SAT Reasoning test.

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Read more in an article published in Pasadena Now!

Applications Workshop With Parents and Students at Muir

Applications Workshop With Parents and Students at Muir

Last night, CAP, the Muir counselors and administrators, and the PTSA held a workshop for students and parents/guardians. We discussed essential elements of the application process, and then students and parents began filling out the online forms with support from CAP and Muir staff and experienced parents. So many of Muir’s seniors are on well on the road to college!

25 students brought their family members, and the PTSA raffled off enticing prizes. All-in-all, the evening was a rousing success!