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Wannabe College Students: Now Is The Time To Apply For Financial Aid

Louisa Jonas
Texas Public Radio

The superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District wants students to know there's financial help that will enable them to go to a four-year university.

Superintendent Pedro Martinez is urging students to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid form, or FAFSA, for colleges as soon as possible.

SAISD has a goal of having 80 percent of its students attend college in the next five years. Martinez says the district has been preparing a group of several hundred promising students for college since they were in middle school.

"So, we’ve been taking them on different college tours. Many of the current seniors are participating in summer camps in different universities not only in the state of Texas, but across the country. They were writing sample essays," he says.

Martinez says he thinks one of the biggest reasons his students go to community college is they can’t afford four-year schools.

"They don’t want to go into debt. And, frankly, I can see that’s the right decision for many students, but we also have many universities including private colleges that offer full tuition covered, even scholarships for room and board, and many times our students don’t realize that," Martinez says.

Martinez says Harvard, Stanford and Yale charge zero tuition if your family is below a certain income level. He says there are schools on the East Coast that have very generous scholarship packages but students need to fill out the FAFSA financial aid form.

FAFSA has no deadline, but the earlier students apply, the better chance they get at having help. 

Louisa Jonas is an independent public radio producer, environmental writer, and radio production teacher based in Baltimore. She is thrilled to have been a PRX STEM Story Project recipient for which she produced a piece about periodical cicadas. Her work includes documentaries about spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Louisa previously worked as the podcast producer at WYPR 88.1FM in Baltimore. There she created and produced two documentary podcast series: Natural Maryland and Ascending: Baltimore School for the Arts. The Nature Conservancy selected her documentaries for their podcast Nature Stories. She has also produced for the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Distillations Podcast. Louisa is editor of the book Backyard Carolina: Two Decades of Public Radio Commentary. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her training also includes journalism fellowships from the Science Literacy Project and the Knight Digital Media Center, both in Berkeley, CA. Most recently she received a journalism fellowship through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she traveled to Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska to study climate change. In addition to her work as an independent producer, she teaches radio production classes at Howard Community College to a great group of budding journalists. She has worked as an environmental educator and canoe instructor but has yet to convince a great blue heron to squawk for her microphone…she remains undeterred.