There are a lot of students who think that they can't afford college, but they can if they do the right things.
My sister, Donette, has been in the U.S for two and a half years. She went to Blair last year. She never took regular English, but now she's a freshman at Columbia Union College. She's studying chemistry, English, psychology and health. Her major is pre-medicine.
Many people think that college is very expensive and it's true. But my sister got help from the government and the college to pay for her first year. My sister said, "I didn't know what to do, but I made an appointment with Ms. Judith and she helped me." Ms. Judith is Judith Kurzweil, a counselor who comes to Blair to help Ms. Ceide. She is not a regular counselor. She is a counselor for ESOL students who comes to Blair only once a week.
Another person who helped Donette is Ms. Sharon Williams. She works in the Career Center. "Ms. Williams helped me fill my application form and gave me some ideas about the courses that would be good for me to take in college," she said.
My sister got a lot of money from the U.S government and the Maryland government. "It was an amount of about $15,000," she said. The cost to got to Columbia Union College is about $17,000 per year if you live on campus. If you live at home, it is less money. Columbia Union College is a private college and is more expensive than a public college like the University of Maryland or Montgomery College.
Even though a private college is more expensive than a public college, students who need financial help can get money from the government to help pay their costs. It depends on how much money your family makes. Sometimes students get grants which is money that you don't have to pay back. Sometimes students get loans which they have to pay back. According to Mr. Moreno, another ESOL counselor who comes to Blair, it doesn't matter if you have money. "As a matter of fact, grades in school is the most important thing," said Mr. Moreno.
My sister Donette has some advice for students in Blair who plan to go to college. She said to be sure to fill out all the forms in time.
According to Ms. Ceide, the ESOL counselor, there is a form called FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) that students must fill out and send before March 1. This form comes to the school in December, but seniors cannot send it until after January 1. Ms. Williams, who works in the Career Center, said that it's important for seniors to send in their FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible.
Students who need help with the FAFSA form should talk to their counselors. In Blair, that means Ms. Ceide or any of the counselors who come to Blair once a week, Mr. Fernando Moreno, Ms. Han Nguyen, or Ms. Judith Kurzweil. In Blair we also have Ms. Williams in the Career Center. She helps many students with their FAFSA forms.