California community college students with low and moderate incomes are eligible for need-based financial aid from the federal government. But so few apply that these students are leaving a half billion dollars on the table for which they are eligible, according to a new report from the College Board.
The report found that many students didn't understand they were eligible, or were given inaccurate or inconsistent information by officials at their campuses. Some students distrust the government and were wary of taking on federal aid. Other community college students -- many of whom work jobs, raise families or both -- lacked the time and technological resources to find the right information and make the application.
One possible factor in California: Budget cuts have reduced the availability of good academic and financial advice on campuses. Departed advisors are the people most likely to point students to federal financial aid programs. (Hat tip: California Watch.)