It’s the time of year where students must complete their Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA), but they don’t have to do it alone.
The Bay Area Community Foundation serves individuals in the Great Lakes Bay Region who are applying or returning to a college or university.
It opened the College Access Network a year and a half ago.
Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the foundation, said that it works with students in high school, current college students and adults returning to college.
“The goal of the College Access Network is to assist students to break down the barrier of applying and filing for FAFSA,” she said.
Through the College Access Network, the Resource Center was created.
Curtis said that it allows students to receive help to “get through the maze of applying for college.”
Students already in college can receive financial guiding assistance.
Resource workshops have been offered to families in the past, but in the meantime, the center provides resource materials such as brochures, applications, catalogs and access to computers.
Curtis said the Access Network is a great tool.
“Access Network is a valuable resource for students and their families to help go on to college and to work towards completing a certificate or their degree,” she said.
Curtis said she wants students to understand the resources available to them on campus and to be engaged so they don’t leave after their first year.
“Our goal is to help increase the percentage of residents in our area that have post-secondary education, whether it’s a certificate or bachelor’s degree,” she said.
Also available to students through the College Access Network is the Tuition Funding element of Bay Commitment. It assists students in getting financial resources to succeed in college.
According to its website at baycommitment.org, advisers help students find and apply for scholarships, work through the financial aid process and find alternatives to help make college affordable.
Curtis said the Resource Center can answer questions about the ACT and the FAFSA form.
She said if the center isn’t able to answer the question, it has contacts with people at SVSU, where resources are also available on campus.
Carolyn Wierda, interim associate dean and executive in residence at the college of education, said the place to go for assistance on campus is available in the Financial Aid office.
Curtis said the University has steps in place to help students transition to college life and to look for additional resources.
“SVSU helps the students plan for college and also making the transition to the University or letting them know that the resources are available to the students once they get there,” she said.
The Resource Center, located at the Pere Marquette Depot on Adams St. in Bay City, is available to students from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.