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Students and families seeking assistance filling out financial aid applications can head to Hancock College or various North County schools, as the Central Coast Cal-SOAP office will host several Cash for College workshops heading into 2018.

The workshops, which are designed to help break the financial barrier that often keeps students from pursuing higher education, will feature knowledgeable volunteers on hand to answer questions and provide application assistance for students and families.

Data provided by the U.S. Department of Education indicates between 65 and 70 percent of students from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) last year, a figure Diana Perez, Cal-SOAP director, hopes to exceed.

“Our goal is to have a 90-percent completion rate for financial aid applications,” Perez said. “We will be making calls to encourage students and their parents to attend these workshops during the students' winter break to get their applications done early and quickly.” 

Assistance for the applications, which take about one hour to complete, will be available from 1 to 7 p.m. in Room A-103 on Hancock's Santa Maria campus. Appointments are not required and bilingual assistance is available for families who speak Spanish. Students will need their social security numbers, permanent resident or DACA card numbers (if applicable) and a completed 2016 tax packet to complete the application.

Parking in lot 4 will be free during the workshops. 

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Assistance for North County students and families will be available on:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 19, to Thursday, Dec. 21, from 1 to 7 p.m. in Room A-103 at Hancock College in Santa Maria
  • Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Thursday, Dec. 28, from 1 to 7 p.m. in Room A-103 at Hancock College in Santa Maria
  • Thursday, Jan. 25, from 2 to 6 p.m. in Room P1-B at Lompoc High School
  • Monday, Feb. 5, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Santa Maria High School library
  • Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 3 to 7 p.m. in Rooms 621 and 622 at Righetti High School in Santa Maria
  • Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. in Room 204 at Delta High School in Santa Maria
  • Thursday, Feb. 8, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. in Room B-8 at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley High School library in Santa Maria

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga