FAFSA Applications

Early FAFSA applications opened early for 2017-2018 aid year on October 1, 2016 which has had a positive impact on the applications received.

Based on information provided by Jaime Quiroz, Financial Aid Assistant Director, there has been 1,202 FAFSAS received this year by priority deadline April 30, 2017.

The early FAFSA allowed students to apply early and have more awareness.

Applying between Oct. and March 2 is ideal due to the Cal Grant deadline which increases the chance of getting more funding.

The priority deadline to submit all files is April 30, which will guarantees receiving the financial aid by the first day of school (Fall semester).

“We encourage them to do it by April 30, that gives us the summer to finish their files and that way everything’s in place for them to have the money first day of school”, said Quiroz.

Students can continue to submit their FAFSA throughout, but the more they wait the longer it takes to receive the aid.

There are some limits when it comes to receiving financial aid that students should be aware of, for FAFSA once you reach 60 units an Educational Plan is needed and only money for the classes that are required to transfer or complete the AA will be provided.

As for the Pel Grant there is a six-year limit which is a federal requirement which means it is only received for six years.

Quiroz states, “we really want to warn them that they need to save some if they transfer, at least two years for the University”.

According to records provided by Quiroz, as of May 1, 2017 there has been a decline in FAFSAS submissions from 2014 to 2018 which is due to a decline in enrollment at Cerritos College.

Nevertheless, there where 1,202 more FAFSAS received by April 30 for 2017-2018 (21,039 FAFSAS) than 2016-2017 (19,837 FAFSAS)

Click here to view the graph.

Quiroz work closely with undocumented students which experienced fear of applying for financial aid due to Donald Trump’s administration.

Quiroz shared, “They’re fearful of their families being impacted, deportation is a worry and giving out their sensitive information”.

That did not stop Dreamers from applying, as of May 1, 2017 there was an increase of 76 more Dream Act Applications from last year.

All dreamers are encouraged to fill the Dream Act application and the Cerritos Financial Aid keeps all information confidential.

An AB 540 taskforce was created to discuss the challenges and help undocumented students, “We want to train more faculty and staff across campus about what these students are going through, what their struggles are and how we can help them to be successful here at Cerritos and create a more welcoming environment”, said Quiroz.

Overall, there has been an improvement with students reaching out to Financial Aid and applying due to the early FAFSA application that was provided Oct 1.

Also, Cerritos College has had more outreach in campus with more awareness fairs as well as outside of campus reaching out to high school students who will be attending college.


Total FAFSA Submissions

infograph SAM

This graph illustrates the total student submissions to Financial Aid from 2008-2018.

There has been an increase of 1,202 FAFSA applications received by April 30th due to the early FAFSA application on October 1st of 2016, also because of more outreach; including awareness fairs.


The Life of a Dreamer

Meet Gustavo Lopez, journalism major student from Cerritos College.

Lopez found out he was an undocumented student at the age of 16.

He comes from a single mother household and when he tried to apply for a job and asked his mother for his social security that’s when he became aware, “I knew I wasn’t born here, but I didn’t know I didn’t have papers”.

When he graduated high school in 2011, he put college on hold because there was no type of financial aid he could receive.

“I went through a mild depression at that time, I asked myself what I was going to do and thought about joining the military and the saddest part was when I called and they asked for a social security”.

Once Obama created Dream Act on 2012 he took advantage and started school in 2013.

“With the Dream Act I can actually get the classes pay for with the bog waver, all I have to do is pay the books and the student fee”.

Lopez has worked at jobs that demand high physical activity and careless about the well-being.

“Theres places that do hire you as an illegal but they take advantage of you, they pay you less and give you more hours, or you get hurt they’re just like ‘you’re illegal your liability is not covered under us’”.

Without a job, it is a struggle to pay for college materials, “if I could get away without paying, then I won’t pay a book for class”.

As only being able to get his classes payed for, it bothers him to see students that receive complete financial aid spend it on luxury items rather than for school.

“A lot of people don’t have that and it’s sad to see people waste it, I think it gives a bad image of financial aid, there’s a mentality that undocumented students want free money when we only want to get the same opportunities as others and have a good education”.

There was defiantly an increase of fear from Lopez with President Donald Trump administration.

This year he doubted applying for financial aid, “What if I graduate and Trump cuts the deferred action? I’ll have a degree but I won’t be able to work, it makes me think of what the point of me getting an education is if I might end up in a job where people look down on you and call you names”.

His mother is what makes him want to continue, “I try to think about my mom and push through, she has done so much for us, it wouldn’t be fair for her”.

His English professor from high school, Philip Keller, also encouraged him to continue doing better, “He’s really invested in education and aware on a lot of issues, and wants us to do better”.

Keller said, “I don’t believe in borders in any kind of ultimate sense. I don’t believe that we, in the U.S., are scarce of resources in any kind of way that should necessitate our shutting down the entrance doors”

“Gus has a lot to contribute, and we would be significantly diminished not to have him here” ended Keller.

Lopez says, “at this point I just can’t give up, it’s inconceivable to me”.

Awareness Fair

IMG_5717.JPGFinancial Aid hosted an awareness fair March 23.

It was a great opportunity for students to get help if needed and get informed.

This was for students to check in and get all of the financial aid done on time so they have everything ready for the fall semester.

There were stations set up with games to make things easier and fun for students.

The first station was for the students to check their “To-Do List”, and if they had any forms that needed to be submitted they provided the forms in the spot.

The second station students were being informed on the due dates to turn in the forms which is April 30.

Basketball hoops were set all students had to do was shot the hoop on the right one and if they choose April 30 they won a highlighter

The third station was the information table, where flyers with important information were provided along with some goodies.

Important Dates for Financial Aid

  • Apply now for FAFSA
  • Cal Grant Deadline- Submit GPA Verification Form by March 2
  • Early Application Deadline- Submit all forms by April 30
  • Last Day to Submit FAFSA- June 30
  • 2017-2018 FAFSA- Apply starting Oct 1

Once students were done with the stations food and snacks were provided.

There was an opportunity for students to sign up for a scholarship giveaway.

“After you participate in the second station, we have information about scholarship giveaway for those students who are interested in getting a scholarship they will be able to sign up” said Marvin Perez, student affairs technician.

There is a total of four scholarships for $250 each that students are eligible for, the requirement is to apply for financial aid and submit forms by April 30 and are then placed for the drawing.

Ulysses Valencia, coordinator said “FAFSA was available Oct 1 now, we loaded our applications’ earlier so now students have more time and if they do them by April 30, it guarantees their files will be done by the time school starts”

“There’s been very good improvements and these fairs are also helpful because we notice once we do the fair the traffic in the office increases a lot so a lot of students are getting aware of what they need to do to complete their financial aid, it’s kind of hard for students to be successful in school if they don’t have the money” said Valencia.

The next FAFSA Workshop will be April 3 from 2-4pm.

For any questions visit the Financial Aid office and save time and skip the long line using the online check-in system by

  1. Get the App
  2. Text “Cerritos College” to 562-375-4979
  3. Go online http://www.cerritos.edu/finaid

Rocio Valdez


My name is Rocio Valdez. I was born on May 15, 1995. I come from a Mexican heritage. My major is journalism and hope to one day be a news anchor or host in the entertainment industry. I have always love the attention, cameras and to write. Fall semester of 2017 will be my last semester at Cerritos College, and I am excited to be transferring soon.