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UPDATED: Free workshop for Cal Grant, FAFSA set for March 15

Posted: March 15, 2011 5:38 p.m.
Updated: March 15, 2011 5:38 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley families with high school- and college-age students are encouraged to attend a free college planning workshop Tuesday, March 15, starting 7 p.m. at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center in Valencia.

Attendees can learn how to apply for the Cal Grant and FAFSA before having their taxes filed.

The Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center is located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia 91355, on the main College of the Canyons campus.

Since 1955, California has provided the Cal Grant program to help students afford college, but most parents don't even know it exists, said workshop host Brian Safdari, one the nation's leading experts on planning and paying for college.

Every year, tens of thousands of families miss out on grants worth up to $9,708 per student, Safdari said.

"It‟s really sad to hear about how many parents miss out on getting all the money that's available for their kids," he said.

"Right now, California is 40th in the nation for getting our students educated past high school, and many students aren't going for financial reasons. Yet, this program can pay ALL of their tuition if they qualify, and most people will miss out because they don't apply or they miss a deadline," he said.

In 2005, more than 75 percent of the graduating high school seniors did not complete an application for this grant, according to Safdari.

Most families need to understand that their taxes do not need to be complete in order to apply for the Cal Grant; just projected figures will help them qualify for the financial assistance they need. Submitting the FAFSA with projected numbers for 2010 taxes will suffice in applying for the Cal Grant.

"What's really sad is that our rate of college admission is plummeting as a state, with 14.5 percent less students going to college now than were going ten years ago," Safdari said. "At that rate, our income level will fall below the U.S. average by the year 2020. Enough is enough already! We need to get our children educated!"

Safdari hosts monthly workshops on the subject of preparing for college. He talks about everything one needs to know to successfully get one of these grants, including:

* The two forms they must fill out before Wednesday, March 2, and the most common mistakes parents make on each of them.
* Where they can call for advice.
* What governor in recent history tried to get rid of the grant, and got a huge political "black eye" in the process.
* The three questions they must ask each school they're thinking of applying to so they can get additional free money and save a small fortune on the cost.
* The one mistake that 91 percent of parents will make when preparing for college, and how to avoid it.
* How the federal government and their guidance counselors give misleading information that can kill their chances of getting any aid, and more.

Call (661) 295-9946 or visit Safdari's website at to sign up for the upcoming Cal Grant and FAFSA workshop.


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