Yolanda Flores says students should get to know their financial aid advisers in high school and college or technical college. They have access to many scholarship opportunities and can help you find the right fit.
Leslie Ricciardelli, the former principal of Lely High, says parents really need to get to know their student's high school counselor. They have access to their class schedules, teachers, information about college and financial aid.
Here's a look at how many parents, students and community members attended the town hall tonight.
MLK Jr. Administrative Center =125
Naples Daily News=75
Everglades City School=3
Immokalee Technical College=75
Question: How likely is it to obtain an athletic scholarship?
Christopher Smith, director of high school counseling for the district, says that less than 2 percent of students nationally obtain these scholarships.
Question: Is there a maximum amount of money available through the FAFSA?
Champions For Learning's Jessica Tucker says yes. The cap is $5,775 dollars for the year, split between two semesters, for students enrolled full time. Students who qualify for this amount of aid are also offered subsidized loans, or loans which don't accrue interest as long as a student is enrolled full time.
Audience question: Since most of the student loan programs deffer interests until after graduation, does it make sense to borrow if you don't have to pay as you go?
Jorge Lopez-Rosado, director of financial aid at FGCU, says he tries to promote student loans as a last resource.
He says subsidized loans, which don't accrue interest as long as the student is enrolled full time, are a great benefit. But, borrowing can snowball and students may not be able to pay before interest kicks in.
"The last thing that you need is to graduate ... and all of a sudden you realize that you borrowed 20,000 dollars and had no idea," Lopez-Rosado said.
The parent of a 9th grader asks how to start preparing to pay for college now. Leslie Ricciardelli says parents should help those students keep a resume throughout their high school career. Students and parents should also start researching institutions and looking at the associated costs.
Here's a snippet from last week's story:
Troy Miller, a senior researcher with the network, has studied FAFSA completion data since it became available in 2012.
Miller said that in looking for indicators that could predict how likely students are of attending college, FAFSA completion delivered a surprise.
"We took FAFSA completion rates and 16 other variables, and put them into a predictive formula. It showed that FAFSA completion is the strongest predictor for whether students are going to college," Miller said.
"It seems that we can say for certain in 2016 that if you have a plan to go to college, you have to have a plan for how to pay for it."
Yolanda Flores, director post secondary, adult and community education, talks about Lorenzo Walker Technical College's programs. Many of these you can complete in a year, she says.
Here is a list of tonight's panelists:
President/CEO, Community Foundation of Collier County
Administrative Director, Post Secondary, Adult and Community Education
Director of Student Financial Services, Florida Gulf Coast University
Senior Researcher & Policy Analyst, Florida College Access Network
Executive Director of Secondary Programs, Collier County Public Schools
Coordinator of School Counseling 9-12,
Collier County Public Schools
Champions For Learning
Troy Miller, a senior researcher with the Florida College Access Network says that only half of high school graduates in Florida who don't go to college have a job by the end of their graduating year, and half of them end up making $8 or less an hour.
Townhall on funding students' higher education goals is starting now. Collier Schools Superintendent Kamela Patton is moderating a panel of six experts.