Eduardo M. Peñalver, from ‘first’ Latino law school dean to ‘first’ Latino college president

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Eduardo M. Peñalver

Growing up in Washington state, Eduardo M. Peñalver dreamed of exploring the skies and space. Longing to be an astronaut, he was a diligent student and in high school secured the nomination from his state’s senator needed to attend the Air Force Academy. But NASA was not in his future.

“I was preparing for my physical when I decided that this process was not the right path for me,“ Peñalver recalled. “Something didn’t feel right, so I changed direction and applied to Cornell to study history. I ended up far from astronaut training.”

That change in direction has led to some historic “firsts.”

Peñalver, 47, was the first Latino dean of Cornell Law School, and he has now been named president of Seattle University, the first Latino and first layperson to head the Jesuit institution since it was founded in 1891. He begins next July.

For Peñalver, who is of Cuban heritage, his appointment as a university president is the latest step in a distinguished academic and legal career. He has been a Rhodes Scholar, a professor of law who clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and the dean of Cornell University’s Law School.

“This is uncharted territory, but we are all doing the best we can,” Peñalver said of taking over during the pandemic. “As educators, we are all hopeful for a vaccine and hopeful that things can begin to get back to normal by next summer.”

Seattle University has approximately 7,000 students, with an undergraduate population that is about 12 percent Hispanic.

Nicole Piasecki, chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees, said that the selection of Peñalver was “as enthusiastic as it as unanimous.” She praised him in a statement as “an innovative thinker” who is “passionate about the power of the university to make the world a better place.”

Peñalver credits his success, in part, to mentors, including the Stevens (“a kindred spirit”) and former Yale Law Dean Guido Calabresi. “I tell my students that your mentors do not have to look exactly like you. It is about their openness and interest in you,” he said. “For people of color in settings where there are not many of us, many mentors have to be different from us.”

Few Latino College Presidents

Throughout his career, Peñalver said he has been used to being ”the first or the only” Latino. “I have always been aware of that reality; I’ve felt the responsibility to ‘represent’ so to speak. It has always been important to me to do my best, to represent our community well, so that there would be others.”

Recent studies and census data show that the number of Latino college students has been growing, and about 19 percent of U.S. college students are Latino. But in 2016, only 4 percent of college and university presidents were Latino, a figure that has not changed since 2001, according to the American Council on Education.

“The number of Latino college and university presidents has definitely not been rising proportionately to the growth in Latino students,” said Deborah Santiago, chief executive of Excelencia in Education. “But we have seen some appointments of Latinos to larger institutions and systems.” As examples, Santiago pointed to Felix Matos Rodriguez, chancellor of the City University of New York; Joseph Castro, chancellor of the California State University system; and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Continue to NBC News to read the full article.

Photo Credit: Lawschool.cornell.edu 

This Afro-Latina Wants To Empower Women With Crypto Education
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money-spreadout-on-table-with-a-graducation-cap-and-tassle-in-the-middle. Crypto

By BeLatina

As the world becomes more digital, and with the metaverse just around the corner, educating and empowering our communities about access to new resources is vital.

But what happens when the language is convoluted and leaves out minorities?

Enter Marimer Cruz.

This Afro-Latina has written a book to break crypto down and make it accessible to everyone. “Crypto Simplified” is a step-by-step how-to manual that includes videos to start investing in the cryptocurrency world in an easy, quick, and safe way.

According to the author’s press release, the book s a layman’s explanation of the world of cryptocurrencies, how to buy your first crypto, and make money after implementation. Cruz explains what novices need to know about this complicated and rapidly evolving market.

For Marimer Cruz, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the financial jargon is common for all Latinos, especially those from poor backgrounds.

A graduate of TAMUCT and BAYLOR University’s Master’s degree, Cruz grew up amid poverty, abuse, and struggling with systemic lupus.

The Texas-based Puerto Rican experienced firsthand the linguistic and information democratization obstacles when she took her first steps in the world of cryptocurrency.

“I remember how scared I was of sending money from one exchange to another, thinking I will lose it all,” she says.

Now, with “Crypto Simplified,” Cruz wants to change the landscape.

“I remember how alone it feels being one of the few women minority full-time educators and bot traders in the USA,” she admits.

Cruz learned directly from grid bot trading experts and has leveraged her seven years as a super affiliate to help others safely embark on crypto. “Crypto is my passion, and there is nothing like it,” Cruz says, “and I will be spreading the crypto gospel in the Anglo and Spanish markets for years to come!”

Click here to read the full article on BeLatina.

Hispanic-serving universities provide most economic mobility, report says
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Hispanic universities provide more economic mobility. A civil engineering graduate at this year's commencement ceremony at California State University, Los Angeles, on May 23. Brittany Murray / MediaNews Group via Getty Images.

By Zachary Schermele, NBC News

A number of colleges and universities whose student populations are at least a quarter Hispanic have been the most successful in providing students with economic mobility, according to a report from the Third Way, a Washington-based think tank.

The report was the subject of discussion during a panel hosted Tuesday by the Latina-led nonprofit Excelencia in Education, which measures and analyzes best practices to boost Latino college completion.

Campus leaders from three schools in the report discussed the important function that Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) can serve in jump-starting the professional and financial success of Latino students. Hispanic-serving institutions are defined by the Department of Education as schools with an enrollment of at least 25 percent full-time undergraduate students.

Nicole Siegel, deputy director of education at Third Way, whose goal is to develop a “high-quality education agenda,” said during the event that despite recent changes to the methodologies of some college rankings, characteristics such as “selectivity” and “historical prestige” have stayed more influential than what she sees as a better metric: student outcomes.

“If the primary purpose of postsecondary education is supposed to be to catalyze an increase in economic mobility for students, we need to elevate the schools that are actually succeeding in this goal,” Siegel said.

The schools with the best economic mobility outcomes in the Third Way report are mainly concentrated in California, Texas and New York — all states with relatively significant state funding allocations for public higher education. According to Excelencia in Education, these schools offer beneficial outcomes for their students by offering them a speedier return on their investment than other institutions and by enrolling less affluent students.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which ranks fourth in the report, enrolls more than 62 percent of students who are eligible for Pell grants, a financial need-based scholarship awarded to undergraduates by the federal government. The university also recently expanded its “tuition advantage grant” for the upcoming fall to cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees for students with family incomes of up to $125,000.

Magdalena Hinojosa, senior vice president for strategic enrollment and student affairs at Texas Rio Grande, said the Third Way report provides a way of “looking at our institutions in a different way” and “bringing to light who we are as institutions.”

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Top Pay, Diverse Culture Make Hayward Unified School District a Gem for Latinx Teachers
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Latina smiling in an ad for teaching at Hayward Unified School Disctrict

As Latinx teachers seek more rewarding opportunities in education, Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) has emerged as one of the top employers in the Bay Area. The district offers some of the best teacher pay, a culturally responsive teaching philosophy and an in-house induction program to facilitate career growth through credential preparation and support.

Fueled by a mission to achieve equity in education for all students and create conditions to retain candidates as they transition into the teaching profession, HUSD focuses on what matters. It is more important than ever for schools to offer the same level of diversity that exists in the community. Latinx teacher representation addresses implicit bias in education, enhancing the experience for the entire school. The district is dedicated to establishing and maintaining safe, inclusive and equitable teaching and learning environments that foster global citizenship in a changing society.

More than a Teaching Job

It’s no longer enough to offer cookie-cutter teaching positions. HUSD has answered the call for meaningful employment by striving to be a district that emphasizes healthy culture and unprecedented teacher support. The HUSD Induction Program supports Latinx employees who are working towards clearing their preliminary credential. The mentorship-based program is available at no cost to HUSD employees. It promotes habits of reflective and effective teaching practices and collaboration while nurturing relationships with candidates so they can clear their certifications and grow professionally. Also, the HUSD human resources team works closely with candidates who wish to teach but are taking a non-traditional pathway to the classroom by exploring their options for provisional permits and waivers and connecting them with credentialing programs.

Culturally Responsive Training Takes a Front Seat

Enhancing the representation of Hispanic teachers within HUSD meets the district’s objective to promote inclusivity and equitable education for all students. It improves student and teacher experiences and inspires Latinx students to continue their educational paths, even beyond the district.

As a district that celebrates differences, HUSD has a culturally responsive teaching and learning environment, an anti-bias/anti-racist board policy and extensive related training throughout the district. Staff is encouraged to teach and learn alongside others with different perspectives to create more unified and empathetic communities. With equity pilot programs at select HUSD sites, the district promotes a culture of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance at every school.

Becoming a Part of Something Bigger

HUSD serves over 18,000 students in grades K-12 at 29 schools. The district also has a vibrant preschool program, an alternative high school and adult school program, career technical education and regional occupational programs and an independent study program to support students outside of the traditional school structure. Students graduate from HUSD proud to be Made in Hayward and prepared with the skills they need for life beyond the classroom.

HUSD looks beyond education and core programs and brings a holistic approach to empowering Latinx educators and students, which sends a ripple effect throughout the Hayward community. Featuring award-winning visual and performing arts programs, state-of-the-art facilities, dual language immersion programs in Spanish and Mandarin, career pathways and a strong sense of school pride, the district is looking for educators who are ready to become part of something bigger than themselves.

“Hayward Unified School District has a strong sense of school pride and a community feeling at each of our schools,” said Aurora L. Sweet, director of certificated personnel at HUSD. “Great facilities and programs are just a fraction of what makes our schools great. It’s the people that really make our school sites special places for our students.”

Are you searching for a position with a school district where you can make the biggest impact? Whether you are ready to jump in now or need support to find your pathway into a career in education, HUSD offers a range of compelling career choices in education. Learn more about the current job opportunities at HUSD by visiting our human resources page at haywardusd-ca.schoolloop.com/hr

Hayward Unified School District serves over 18,000 students in grades K-12 and offers teacher candidates opportunities for enriching employment, diverse community and career advancement.

Century 21 Real Estate paves a path for Latina representation through critical educational support and mentorship program
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Latina real estate representative showing a house

BY ERIN SIEGEL, Inman

With Hispanics projected to account for 70 percent of new homeownership growth in the U.S. in the next 20 years by the Urban Institute*, it is more important than ever that our industry of real estate professionals represent the same level of diversity as those communities we are serving across the country.

But enhancing representation of Hispanics within the real estate professions does not happen by simply recruiting more Hispanics into your brokerages — instead it requires a strong commitment of guidance and the financial support that provides them access to educational resources and mentorship along their journey.

Century 21 Real Estate LLC, the industry franchise leader and innovator for more than 50 years, announced earlier this month that in collaboration with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the brand is expanding its successful CENTURY 21® Empowering Latinas Program in 2022 with a national call-to-entry providing educational opportunities including financial support for 121 Latina entrepreneurs seeking to obtain a real estate license. Launched in 2018 as a market-focused campaign, the breakthrough program has since enabled deserving women across Florida, California, and Texas to pursue careers in real estate. The Empowering Latinas program has also supported the work of philanthropic organizations such as the Eva Longoria Foundation and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in their efforts to empower the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

“We are proud to elevate this program to the next level by opening up opportunities for those relentless Latina entrepreneurs across the country who are poised to become the next leaders of our industry,” said Mike Miedler, president and CEO, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “In our business, it’s one thing to open the door for more diverse agents, but it’s more important that once they’re through those doors, they have the critical financial, educational, and business resources to set them on the path towards real estate success. This program, combined with the power of our global network of industry-leading sales professionals, does just that.”

In addition to awarding educational stipends to cover the costs of the required pre-licensing education with The CE Shop or a comparable provider in their state, Empowering Latinas honorees will be connected with the CENTURY 21 brand’s network of real estate professionals for additional mentoring, advice and support along their journey to becoming top real estate agents.

Click here to read the full article on Inman.

A Latina creates a platform to provide scholarships for STEM students
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María Trochimezuk created the IOScholarships platform last year to provide access to scholarships and boost more Latino and other students in STEM careers.

By Edwin Flores

A Latina has created a platform to provide access to scholarships worth almost $38 million for Latinos and other students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

María Trochimezuk, 47, created IOScholarships after noticing the amount of scholarship money that went unrewarded due to the lack of applicants. The free platform gives STEM students in high school and college a place to find scholarships, internships, work opportunities, financial education and resources based upon GPA, merit and financial background.

The aim, said Trochimezuk, is to help students graduate college debt-free while boosting the number of Latinos and other students of color pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

“I always had a vision that I wanted to create a platform that would be a community,” said Trochimezuk who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s a first of its kind because we are focusing on underrepresented and underserved students, African American, Latinos, Asian American, Native American and also we have scholarships for DACA students.”

Trochimezuk said the platform, part of the National Scholarships Provider Association (NSPA), has helped provide access to nearly 11,000 students about a diverse range of STEM scholarships that are available from foundations and corporations.

She founded the platform last March, first investing her personal savings and then securing funding for the project through a grant provided by Google’s Ureeka PowerUp program, which supports Latino-owned businesses.

In 2000, Trochimezuk moved to the U.S. on a postgraduate scholarship in marketing and public relations at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and later was selected to be a part of Stanford’s prestigious Latino entrepreneurship initiative.

She worked on public education campaigns for Google and other financial institutions that focused on Latino community support.

Through her experiences, she witnessed how much scholarship money was undistributed because students were not applying. Yet Trochimezuk said she was able to pay off her entire education with grants and scholarships.

Over the last decade, the number of scholarships awarded to students has increased by 45 percent. Yet, the NSPA estimates $100 million in scholarships go unawarded each year due to the lack of applicants.

“We opened opportunities for students with scholarships that now are going to Stanford or MIT — these are brilliant, diverse students, they’re Latino, Black students. And it’s very important that companies pay attention to this workforce because these are the innovators of the future,” she said.

Despite making up 17 percent of the total workforce across all occupations, Latinos account for 8 percent of all STEM-related jobs.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Scholarship Connoisseur Encourages Students to Apply for STEM Scholarships and Internship Opportunities Now
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money-spreadout-on-table-with-a-graducation-cap-and-tassle-in-the-middle. Crypto

IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities. IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

“Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”

GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.

The majority of the scholarships featured on IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.

Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, the IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

D.C.’s struggle to hire more diverse teachers — and keep them
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diverse teachers wanted in latino schools

By Vanessa G. Sánchez, The Washington Post

Days before the coronavirus pandemic forced D.C. schools to close last year, fourth-grade teacher Isabella Sanchez sat down in front of the District’s State Board of Education to explain why teacher diversity matters. At H.D. Cooke Elementary in Northwest Washington, Sanchez told the board, she was one of only four Latino teachers serving a student body that is 52 percent Latino.

“This gap should matter to us as it matters to the students who walk into the school every single day,” she said. “I was just one of the few people who [students and parents] felt comfortable talking to, but I’m constantly wondering how many stories our Latinx students and their families would be empowered to tell if there were more Latinx teachers to tell them to.”

As school districts across the nation have become increasingly diverse, the diversity of their teachers and administrators has lagged. And while teachers in D.C. are more racially diverse than the national average, the city’s public and public charter schools have struggled to resolve a deficit of Latino teachers and male teachers of color — and to retain some educators once they’re hired.

A 2019 report from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education found that roughly 45 percent of D.C. students were males of color, compared with 16 percent of teachers. Nineteen percent of the city’s students, meanwhile, were Latino or Hispanic, compared with 7 percent of teachers. The latter gap was even wider in Wards 1 and 4, where “15 percent and 10 percent of teachers are Hispanic/Latino, respectively, but 58 percent and 40 percent of students are Hispanic/Latino,” the report said.

“What message does that send to [students]? That Latinx people don’t or can’t become teachers,” Sanchez, who has since moved to Garrison Elementary, said of those disparities in an interview. “There’s so much messaging that happens on kind of a subconscious level.”

With the pandemic affecting student learning, and with a heightened national awareness around racial justice issues, experts say recruiting and retaining teachers and principals of color is essential in making schools more equitable.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee acknowledged that the system has “work to do” in areas such as recruiting more Latino and Hispanic educators.

“Being able to talk to someone that shares your experience is incredibly meaningful and affirming, but also gives you that sense of promise that you can make it to that place in your own life,” said Scott Goldstein, founder of EmpowerEd, a teacher-led organization working to create D.C. education policies that represent diverse voices.

Research shows that teachers play an important role in shaping students’ beliefs about their academic prospects. Higher student expectations, the 2019 OSSE report found, can lead to lower likelihoods of suspension and dropout for Black and Latino students.

“We know the world that we live in. We know as teachers that there’s a sense of urgency to make sure that every kid will succeed, and you never want to see a kid fail because of your low expectations for them,” said Sanchez, a fifth-grade reading, writing and social studies teacher at Garrison.

Aggie Payton, a special-education teacher at Whittier Elementary in Northwest D.C., saw the importance of having such supportive teachers when he endured economic hardship and homelessness as a Black teenager in Bradenton, Fla. His school mentors, he said, taught him life skills and motivated him to stay in school, apply to college and eventually become a teacher.

Payton said he now sees his life experiences as an advantage in connecting with students going through similar struggles at Whittier, a Title I school where 96 percent of students are students of color.

“I’m a Black male, and I’m not just relatable, but I also have high expectations for students,” he said. “… That drives me incessantly.”

The city has made some notable improvements in hiring. Through TeachDC, a data-driven hiring system implemented in 2009, DCPS is receiving more applications and filling most vacancies before the first day of school, a Georgetown University study published in September found.

“Our effort to retain and attract teachers are certainly research-based practices and something that we think about a lot, including compensation, leadership opportunities, collaboration,” Ferebee said.

The Georgetown report also noted that DCPS was retaining more than 90 percent of teachers who rated as effective or highly effective, which Ferebee said is “what we want.” But the city’s evaluation system, known as IMPACT, has been found to be racially biased, with White teachers on average receiving higher scores.

Although the share of Black educators in DCPS has risen over the past 10 years — to 56 percent — that figure remains 20 points lower than it was two decades ago, according to data from the OSSE and the nonprofit Albert Shanker Institute.

According to a recent district report, 25 percent of D.C. teachers on average leave each year, six percentage points above the average in other U.S. urban cities. This school year’s retention numbers, measured in October, showed a lower departure rate of 14 percent, DCPS said.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

Education leaders serving Latino students rethink college equity post-pandemic
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education institute sign at the entrance to California State University, Northridge on Jan. 23

By 

As higher education leaders mark 25 years since the creation of Hispanic-serving institutions, they’re assessing how these colleges and universities can enroll and graduate more Latino students amid the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last fall, colleges saw a 5 percent drop in Latino undergraduate enrollments. The dramatic decrease came one year after Latino college enrollment had increased by nearly 2 percent, according to Deborah Santiago, CEO of Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit that analyzes how higher education institutions are enrolling, retaining and graduating Latino students.

“There was a lot of progress and accelerating enrollment. We were seeing increases in completion as well,” Santiago said during a virtual briefing on Hispanic-serving institutions held on Wednesday. “In one year, we saw a precipitous drop, scaling back some of the enrollment progress.”

While HSIs make up only about 18 percent of all colleges and universities, they enroll and graduate over 60 percent of the nation’s Latino college students. HSIs are defined as institutions where at least a quarter of the student body is Hispanic.

In the briefing, education officials and Latino members of Congress reflected on the growth of these institutions while discussing how they can step up to recent challenges.

“Equity is a big focus for us moving forward,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said during the briefing. “Institutions like HSIs play a major role in that. So when we’re talking about recovery as a country, we need to acknowledge HSIs and the important work that they do to promote equity and access for all students.”

In their 25 years of existence, HSIs have grown exponentially, from about 189 colleges and universities to 539 as of last year. This is due to an increase in Latino college students who are mainly concentrated in several predominantly Hispanic areas, cities and states.

In the last 25 years, over 835 unique federal grants, totaling $1.9 billion, have provided educational opportunities for over 1.1 million Latino students enrolled in HSIs.

Santiago said while federal funding is not parallel to the growth HSIs have seen over the last decades, there’s an opportunity to assess what kinds of investments should be done to meet the growing demand and ensure successful results.

Roadblocks, then Covid

While college enrollment among Latino students has been increasing over the past decade and reached a record high in 2017, Hispanics still lag behind in college completion, according to Excelencia’s research. At least 22 percent of Latino adults have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 39 percent of the general population. High costs, a limited knowledge of college and trying to balance work, family and academics are the most common barriers preventing Hispanic students from finishing college on time.

But the panorama gets more complicated as the Covid-19 pandemic heaps great economic stress on Latino families.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

7 Options if You Didn’t Receive Enough Financial Aid
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Complete the FAFSA form is shown on a smartphone

If you did not receive enough financial aid to cover your school expenses, you have seven ways to fill the gap.

Your school’s financial aid office is an excellent resource to help you explore these additional options, even after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are usually merit-based and do not have to be repaid. The key is being prepared, because scholarships have deadlines and may require time to write essays. So, get organized and regularly search and apply for scholarships.

Ask your school’s financial aid office or your academic advisor about school-specific or departmental (major-specific) scholarships. You should also look for local scholarships from where you live or graduated from high school. Scholarships may be offered by community, religious and fraternal organizations; and businesses in your community or those that employ your parent(s).

Look for scholarship resources that are available from your state government, or from statewide organizations with which you may have been involved. Research companies in your state that are related to your planned field of study.

National scholarships can be more competitive, but don’t let that keep you from applying. Prioritize local applications first.

Just be careful. With scholarship opportunities, it’s wise to be cautious of student aid scams. If you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a scholarship opportunity, contact your school’s financial aid office. Prioritize local applications first and make sure you meet all deadlines.

Find Part-Time Work

Federal Work-Study can help you cover some costs throughout the semester since these funds are paid as you earn them. Remember, these funds are typically paid directly to you through a paycheck, so if you still owe an amount to your school, you would need to take those funds back to the school to pay your bill.

If you were not awarded work-study funds, most schools have other part-time, on-campus positions that can help pay for school. Working part-time on campus can be beneficial to your educational experience, as long as you can find a healthy balance between your school and work. Ask your financial aid office or career services office how to apply for on-campus position

Tuition Payment Plans

Your school’s billing office (sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office or student accounts office) may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.

Request a Reevaluation of Your Circumstances

Sometimes a family’s finances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA® form because of changes that have occurred, such as job loss/reduction, divorce or separation or other special circumstances. This may be a consideration now that you can file the FAFSA® form early with tax information that is two years old by the time enrollment begins.

Schools are not required to consider special circumstances, but those that do have a process, called professional judgement, by which you can petition for a reevaluation of the information on your FAFSA® form will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.

Request Additional Federal Student Loans

If you’ve exhausted other options and still need additional funds to help you pay for school, contact your school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for additional federal student loans. Just remember to borrow only what you need to pay your educational expenses.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans: If you are a dependent student and still need more money, your parent can apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. Most schools use the application on StudentLoans.gov, but others may have their own application. The PLUS loan application process does include a credit check. If your parent is not approved, he or she may still be able to receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser (cosigner) or documenting extenuating circumstances. If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized student loans of up to $5,000 depending upon his or her year in school.

School-Based Loans, Advances or Emergency Aid

Sometimes you may have college-related costs, such as housing costs or other living expenses, before your financial aid is disbursed. Your school may offer an option to advance your financial aid, offer a school-based loan program or have an emergency aid procedure.

Several schools now offer emergency aid opportunities if you experience unexpected expenses or challenges that are making it difficult for you to complete the semester. Ask your financial aid office if they offer these options and always make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions (such as interest rates or repayment terms) of your agreement.

Private or Alternative Loans

Some private financial institutions offer education loans that do not require the FAFSA® form. While we recommend federal aid first, we realize it does not always cover the cost, especially for more expensive schools. Private loans will almost always require a cosigner and may have higher fees or interest rates depending on your credit. Ask your financial aid office if they have a list of lenders for you to consider. If your school does not maintain such a list, you can search for lenders on your own.

Compare products before making your choice: look at interest rates, fees, repayment terms, creditworthiness requirements, satisfactory academic progress requirements, etc. Students and parents are free to choose whichever lender best fits their needs — even if it is not on a school’s preferred lender list.

Before going out on your own and making any final decisions on how to fill the gap between your aid and your expenses, we recommend that you meet with a representative in your financial aid office to determine what campus resources might be available. You might still have time to change some of your choices before the semester begins: Can you change the type of meal plan you chose? The type of housing? The number of classes in which you are enrolled? Check with campus officials to see if you still have time to select a different, more affordable option.

Source: studentaid.gov

How Rising Latino Artists Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler Have Made Their Dreams Come True
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Rising Latino Artists Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler

By Alvin Blanco, Genius

It’s all about talent, education, and the willingness to take risks. Music is meant to inspire, and a new wave of fresh, exciting, ridiculously talented Latino artists understands this fact.

Maria Isabel, Destiny Rogers, and Jay Wheeler are up-and-coming singer-songwriters with the talent and desire to achieve greatness. This next class of stars succeeded by tapping into education to make their dreams come true—and they’ve inspired their fans and followers in the process.

The three artists embody the spirit of the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, established in 1985. The goal of the scholarship is to help Latino students break barriers and make their parents and those around them proud. Over the years, McDonald’s has helped more than 17,000 Latino students—and given out more than $32 million—through the HACER program. The initiative is especially important in tough times like we’re facing now. Given the state of the world, it’s crucial for young people to keep moving forward and do more.

Isabel, Rogers, and Wheeler are certainly moving in the right direction. But they come from different places and represent the breadth of the Latino diaspora. Isabel grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of parents from the Dominican Republic, while Wheeler was born and raised in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Rogers, who is half Mexican on her mother’s side, held down the West Coast, growing up in Lodi, California. They all knew early on that creating music was in their future.

Dreams of rocking stages don’t always line up with the plans of parents who want more practical, and safer, careers for their children. Isabel, who dropped her debut EP, Stuck In The Sky, in October 2020, seamlessly blends her Dominican ancestry’s bachata and merengue with R&B and hip-hop and her lush vocals. She is particularly thankful that her parents had no issue supporting her aspirations.

“My parents took four-year-old me seriously when I said I was going to become a singer,” says Isabel, who attended NYU. “They never argued with that dream or told me I had to be anything different. Obviously, I had to go to school, get good grades, and all that stuff, but it was never a matter of like, pick something. I think with any first-generation kid watching your parents make sacrifices or work extra hours or whatever it may be to make it possible for you to do what you want to do, I think that was the biggest motivating force to be successful.”

While Isabel’s parents had faith in her talents, Wheeler’s classmates in school were less kind. The reggaeton crooner has spoken candidly about the bullying he faced, but he was still able to persevere and become a certified star. By posting his music on the Internet, Wheeler jump started his career. Fans dubbed him “La Voz Favorita,” and he earned praise and hands-on guidance from reggaeton legend DJ Nelson, who executive produced his two critically acclaimed albums: 2019’s Platónico and 2020’s Platónicos.

Those school bullies couldn’t knock Wheeler off his path. “I always loved music [but] I knew that it was going to be hard,” he says. “Living for something that you love is harder. I learned English in school and watching TV and movies. I knew at some point in my life I wanted to do something in the English world because [I have] a lot of respect for American music. A lot of kids [take education] for granted—I don’t know need to learn this, I don’t need to learn that—but when you get older, you realize that all the things that they gave you, you do need to educate yourself in everything, because life puts you in a different position everyday.”

Click here to read the full article on Genius.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
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