San Diego Financial Literacy Center Educates Mesa Students on Financial Aid


Felipe Arevalo showing off the Mesa College financial aid handbook after his presentation.

Maggie Irvine

On Thursday, Feb 28, financial expert Felipe Arevalo visited Mesa College for a presentation entitled, “FAFSA: the Godzilla of Financial Aid Forms.” Arevalo spent an hour breaking down the financial aid process.

Arevalo opened his presentation with the question, “Who here likes free money?” The expected response was given as everyone in the room raised their hands high in the air. He then reviewed information that all students should know about financial aid. The main points of the presentation were an explanation of what FAFSA is, why students should complete it, and what they need to do so.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In a nutshell, FAFSA is a completely free application for students to obtain a plethora of different grants. Some of the main grants offered through FAFSA are Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.

Although loans are a viable option, FAFSA grants are ones that you never have to pay back so they should always be a student’s first choice when looking to pay for schooling. It is estimated that 47 percent of students who took out student loans could have found a more affordable option through financial aid.  

Arevalo discussed the fact that many students don’t bother applying for any kind of financial aid because they think that either themselves or their parents make too much money to get any kind of state compensation for school. This is a very common misconception that Arevalo is passionate about debunking. He explained that it is estimated that students missed out on over $2.7 billion of financial aid money in 2016. Regardless of family income, all students should apply for FAFSA because most end up qualifying for some kind of grant.

The FAFSA application becomes available to students every year on Oct. 1. Students are encouraged to fill it out as promptly as possible in order to maximize the amount they receive. Although the deadline for the 2019-2020 application passed on March 2, there are still many other options for financial assistance. Mesa students can visit the Office of Student Affairs, located on the 4th floor of the I-400 building for information and applications for the many scholarships offered each semester.

Arevalo works the San Diego Financial Literacy Center. He dedicates his time to helping students become more educated about financial issues, specializing in resolving issues with financial aid and student loans. Arevalo said that, “often times the biggest setback for students can be a lack of information.” The next opportunity for Mesa students to come learn from an expert about the financial aid process will be March 14 with his presentation, “A Short, Handy Guide to Federal Student Loan Programs.” This will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Learning Resource Center, in room 435.