Financial Aid—Promoting Student Success - Article, Office of College Advancement

Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

By Ohlone College.

Financial Aid at Ohlone College is much more than a place where forms are filled out and checks are distributed. The office provides individualized support to students on a case by case basis that helps them pay for and get through college, contributing substantially to their success.

In January of each year, Deborah Griffin, Director of Financial Aid at Ohlone, holds workshops at local high schools to meet with parents and students and explain how to apply and qualify for financial aid to attend college.

With her background in social services and counseling, Deborah has encouraged her staff in Ohlone’s Financial Aid Office to help people from a counseling perspective—presuming that each individual or family has specific needs unique to their situation.

The Financial Aid Office also serves special student populations, such as Veterans and Foster Youth. Students who have been in foster care may need financial help, but are not always willing to come forward. Not wanting to acknowledge their family status, even the friends of a foster youth often do not know their living situation. Deborah often finds students through referrals from social services, who assist with the transition from high school to college.

The Chafee Grant provides financial support, specifically aimed at helping foster youth have a way to pay for the cost of attending college. But they need additional support to help them persist and be successful in college, which they can get through the people in Ohlone’s Financial Aid Office. “These students have been unsupported for years,” Griffin explains. “I maintain personal relationships with each foster youth to help them have a secure place where they belong.”

That level of support pays off on graduation day. “The most rewarding part of my job is to see students who have overcome barriers and problems to walk across that stage for their diploma,” she adds.

Veterans are another population of students whose needs and perspectives are not the same as the general student population. These men and women are working through the transition from military to civilian life; have a professional background unlike most of the students they come in contact with; and have specific education goals in mind. Through the Student Veterans Association they have an opportunity to share their common experiences other veterans, provide motivation to each other and work as a team, as they did in the military, to provide encouragement and promote successful outcomes.

Ohlone’s Financial Aid Office works with representatives from state and military agencies to determine what student veterans need and to provide an environment where they can prosper. “We want veterans to see Ohlone as a place where they can get the education they want and to make successful career transitions with support tailored to their needs,” says Griffin.

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