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Letter: FAFSA can be challenging

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I was thrilled to see the very informative Associated Press piece, “Navigating FAFSA Season” run in the Napa Valley Register on Oct. 5. FAFSA, or The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can indeed be very challenging to navigate for many students and families, especially first-generation college students and students from low-income backgrounds – for whom this kind of financial support is most critical.

Unfortunately, many students are discouraged from applying to college because they do not believe it is affordable for their families, even though they may be eligible for significant free financial aid.

Here in Napa, we have a wonderful college access and success nonprofit called 10,000 Degrees, that can help students and families with the daunting process of applying for financial aid so that they can afford to attend college.

10,000 Degrees offers free workshops and individual help with completing the FAFSA as well as the California Dream Act, which is the free financial aid application that California created to support students who are undocumented and therefore do not qualify for federal aid. The workshops are offered in English and Spanish, and are held virtually and in-person at many local high school campuses.

10,000 Degrees serves more than 12,000 students and their families each year throughout the Bay Area – 1,600 in Napa County alone. The nonprofit’s mission is to achieve educational equity and to support students from low-income backgrounds to and through college so that they can realize their full potential, and positively impact their communities and the world.

In addition to providing financial aid counseling, 10,000 Degrees provides college support, near-peer alumni coaching, and scholarship opportunities. Unlike most other college success organizations, there is no GPA requirement to participate in these programs. 10,000 Degrees also works extensively to support Napa County students on their college journey, regardless of their immigration status.

As the chair of the 10,000 Degrees Napa Advisory Board, I invite our community to make use of this wonderful local resource.

To learn more about 10,000 Degrees and available financial aid workshops, please visit www.10000degrees.org.

Deborah Freed Goldman

10,0000 Degrees Board Member, Chair, Napa Advisory Board, Napa

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