Padilla, Federal and State Education Officials Encourage California Students to Apply for Financial Aid

WATCH: Padilla and officials encourage students to apply for financial aid ahead of California’s priority deadline on May 2

CALIFORNIA — Today, a week before the upcoming California priority deadline, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) hosted a webinar alongside representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) officials to encourage all eligible students across California, including those from mixed status families, to apply for federal and state financial aid. California’s state priority deadline was extended to May 2, 2024. The federal deadline is June 30, 2025. The webinar offered guidance for students working to complete the Department of Education’s new Better Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by providing an overview of the application, sharing tips on how to successfully complete the process, and answering frequently asked questions.

Across the country, over 7.1 million students are expected to be eligible for Federal Pell Grants through this form. However, the implementation of the new form has caused challenges for students across the country, including those who have contributors without Social Security numbers.

The Department of Education has taken important steps to help resolve the FAFSA form issues, including for mixed status families. They have offered solutions such as allowing contributors without a Social Security number to manually enter their financial information and creating a central frequently asked questions page on the Department of Education’s website for students to refer to.

“Every student should be able to apply for federal and state aid to afford college,” said Senator Padilla. “Eligible California students should fill out the FAFSA ahead of the priority deadline to secure as much financial assistance as possible. No one should be prevented from getting their full financial assistance because of technical problems, and I will keep working to help students receive the maximum financial aid available to them.”

“Students, parents, families, and community members each have an important role to help more students and families complete and submit the Better FAFSA. Students can access to a Pell Grant award of up to $7,395, work-study funds, student loans and other grants and financial aid from states, college, and universities — but that starts with filling out the FAFSA. The Department is working tirelessly to make higher education possible for many more of our nation’s students,” said Melody Gonzales, Executive Director to the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.

“We are grateful to partner with U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the U.S. Department of Education to encourage all students across California to apply for federal and state financial aid via the FAFSA and California Dream Act Application,” said Marlene Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission. “We are doing everything we can to ensure all students have a path to access financial aid and the life-changing opportunities available through higher education.”

Eligible students in California who do not qualify for federal aid can complete a California Dream Act Application to access state and institutional aid. More information on financial aid resources from CSAC for eligible students from mixed status families is available here, and resources for mixed status families from the Department of Education can be found here.

Senator Padilla has consistently advocated on behalf of students to increase their access to higher education. Last month, Padilla and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led 24 Senators in urging U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to address the FAFSA form error that had prevented students with contributors (including parents and spouses) who do not have a Social Security number from completing the new FAFSA form. Padilla also previously joined Sanders, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.-03), and 105 of their colleagues in calling on Secretary Cardona to urgently address the operational issues and delays with the new FAFSA form.

Padilla has also led numerous letters urging President Biden to provide meaningful student debt cancellation, along with multiple letters urging Secretary Cardona to leverage his authority under the Higher Education Act to provide expanded student debt relief to working and middle-class borrowers. He also cosponsored the College for All Act to make college tuition-free and debt-free for working families and introduced the Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act to ensure college students are able to meet their basic needs while pursuing their education.


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