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High school grads should apply for Pell Grants 

Making college affordable has become an increasingly complex challenge. The average student debt for the Class of 2016 is $37,173, up 6 percent from the previous year. Yet, according to recent studies, approximately $2.9 billion of federal grant money was left unclaimed last year because high school seniors who were eligible for financial aid failed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Pell Grant Program was established in 1965 to help students from low-income families pay for college. Qualified students will receive a maximum of $5,815 for the 2016-2017 academic year. Yet in California alone, more than 100,000 high school seniors who are eligible for Pell Grants do not file their FAFSA each year.

As a community college counselor, I have worked with hundreds of students who have less college debt in part due to the assistance provided to them by the Pell Grant. I also am a mother of two college students who are Pell Grant recipients. It is not too late to apply for financial aid for the 2016-2017 academic year. Please encourage all high school graduates to complete their FAFSA; California needs more college graduates.

-- Andrea Devitt - Cuesta College Counselor

-- Andrea Devitt - SLO

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