Help to Finance Higher Education

Going to college is exciting, but it can also be stressful.

"You know, all the forms that have to be filled out for financial aid or even for scholarships," Greg Fowler, Division Chair, Behavioral and Social Sciences at Vernon College said, "You know, you have to know to fill those out and you have to know to make it by the deadline."

This is why Zavala, a non-profit organization in Wichita Falls, tries to help students through the process.

Roger Palma, President of Zavala said, "The biggest challenge is that they don't know."

He explained this is one of the reasons why they created the organization.

"We need these kids to be educated.  They're going to be our future leaders, they're going to be our future consumers, our future business owners," Palma said.

However, knowledge isn't the only problem they face.

"Even though they may have some communication given through the ISD, through the school, the councilors, they still don't think they can qualify," he said, "They don't think their grades are good enough."

Gonzalo Robles, the founder of Café Con Leche said another problem is that parents might not know to search it out.

"You tell a family, an economically disadvantaged family, yes, your kid can go to college," Robles said, "Yes, they can get financial aid.  To them a lot of times it's like really?"

He said in the state of Texas over 60-percent of students come from low income families.  He explained Wichita Falls is no different.

"That in itself isn't easy because those families are so worried about the now instead of about the future," he said.

So, whether families are focusing on putting food on the table, or are just trying to pay the bills, getting their kids to college could be the last thing on their minds.  However, Zavala wants to change that and make college a reality for these kids.

"We can talk to these families and present the facts and figures in ways they can understand," he Robles said.

Palma said the process of applying for financial can be overwhelming, but a lot of people go that route.

"We try to limit that and give them a little guidance to, how to finish that process," he said.

Fowler said more than 50-percent of their students have some sort of financial aid.  So, it's great organizations like Zavala try to help families fill in the gaps.

"If your parents didn't go to school, or you just don't know.  If you don't know to do all of the things, it's a very difficult process," he said.

Officials with Zavala said anyone can apply for their scholarships.  Whether you're a senior in high school, or you're thinking about going back to school, it doesn't matter.

"Last year we gave away over $30,000 in scholarships," Palma said.

So, try applying.  The worst that can happen is that they deny your application.

Palma said, "Before you close that door listen to somebody who can tell you the different avenues that are out there for your education."

, Newschannel 6