Press "Enter" to skip to content

Program extends financial aid and counseling to students

The Extended Opportunities Program and Services at Palomar Community College has made it their mission to help students who have struggled with financial aid, past grades, transportation, and/or understanding the college system.

Calvin One Deer Gavin, interim EOPS/Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education/CalWORKs/Palomar First director, stated that there has been a resurgence in Sacramento with being sure that community colleges address issues of equity and diversity. This has given Palomar’s EOPS program the chance to branch out and expand, allowing for them to take in more students who may need their services.

“In the past, community colleges could have been a place where someone would come and stay here forever, never to leave,” Gavin said. “Community colleges are being redefined for the future. The focus is on success. How do we make sure everyone who comes here finds the strategies and services for success? Success is defined as having a goal and achieving it.”

EOPS focuses on diverse students whose families do not have history in college nor the funds to pay for their education.

“Diversity is everywhere, but now colleges and universities have to do a better job at giving more diverse students (the chance to) succeed with completing a degree,” Gavin said. “EOPS is a historical program that has always done that. We just need to increase our number and our diversity.”

Gavin plans to expand EOPS towards more diverse students by using social media websites such as Youtube. Gavin would like to see professors play EOPS videos during down time in the classrooms.

Gavin also plans to reach out to students by sending counselors to talk in front of different classes to let students know what EOPS is and if those students are eligible for their aid.

Eligibility for EOPS assistance requires students be on financial aid, and they have to be on one of the Board of Governors fee waivers, either type a, b or c.

“First and foremost, what they get is extra money,” Gavin said. “They can get financial aid beyond what they can get from the financial aid office. We give grants and we give book vouchers. We’ll help them buy their books. We’ll even help them with fees for art classes or science labs. Students like the fact that we help with (the) immediate cost that they get confronted with.”

Along with financial aid, students who are involved with EOPS have three appointments a semester with counselors who help plan and maintain student goals.

“As counselors, we are a little bit of everything,” EOPS/CARE counselor Veronica Aguilera said, “We are listening, providing guidance with personal stories and personal history, we answer questions about financial aid, how to negotiate and help them there. We help them navigate the college system.”

Aguilera stated that part of the EOPS charm is that they get to know students on a deep level. Aguilera added that she gets to see students for who they are, and more than a numbered appointment.

The EOPS counselors work with the students up to 6 semesters, but they are hopeful that by then students will graduate or transfer.

“At the end of the year we have a ceremony for students who are graduating or transferring,” Gavin said. “Those are real tear jerkers. I’ve been doing this a while and every year I cry because you just know they are speaking from the heart.”

Image Sources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.