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Navigating the new FAFSA

 January 30, 2024 at 5:32 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. I'm Jade Hindman. From financial aid to local community colleges and the HBCU experience. Today's show is about higher education. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. How an error in Fafsa forms could impact some students looking to attend college.

S2: So to say it's important would be a huge understatement. I mean , it really is the key to many students ability to attend the college of their choice or college at all.

S1: Plus , we'll talk to the incoming chancellor of San Diego Community Colleges about new programs. And then NPR's Ayesha Rasco joins us to talk about her new book on the HBCU experience. That's ahead on Midday Edition. College acceptance letters are expected soon , but families are facing questions about financial aid assistance. This is all due to the delay in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid , or Fafsa form. The form was retooled this year to make it easier for students and families to fill out , but an error on this year's form has federal student aid officials scrambling to fix it so students don't miss out on much needed financial aid. Here to walk us through what's been happening is Kelly Nearing ? She's the director of financial aid with the University of San Diego. Kelly , welcome. Hi.

S2: Hi. Thank you so much.

S1: Glad to have you here. So first let's talk about this situation. The intent was to make filling out the Fafsa form easier and to provide more access to financial aid for low income students. But that's not how things have played out.

S2: That is correct. Unfortunately , yes. There have been some challenges with this year's rollout of the application.

S1:

S2: And this year , the Department of Education didn't roll out the application until December 31st. So that was already a timing delay for students and families to fill out the application. In addition , with the rollout , there have been some technical challenges and students are having a multitude of challenges when it comes to filling out the application , both technical difficulties as well as , you know , timeline difficulties and really having a hard time getting the application submitted.

S1:

S2: Schools , meaning colleges and universities. We have not received the data yet. Typically , we can start receiving the data in the fall because the application became available on October 1st. But even with the launch on December 31st , schools have yet to receive any application data. The Department of Ed did promise that schools would receive data by the end of January , but with the announcement last week regarding the income protection allowance , we have no idea when we'll start to receive applications. And for our continuing students , they have a little bit more time because they're already enrolled in our universities. But it's really a challenge for the new students because they are waiting on their financial aid offer to make their decision of whether or not to confirm to enroll at a university.

S1: And how many students rely on financial aid for their college education.

S2: I heard last week that 3 million have submitted it thus far. Here at USD , 78% of our students utilize some sort of financial aid. So to say it's important would be a huge understatement. I mean , it really is the key to many students ability to attend the college of their choice or college at all.

S1: We received a few questions about the new Fafsa form from students. Here's Chiara from USC.

S3: I'm very familiar with the Fafsa , and I was just fully expecting to easily run through it again this year. But as the deadline was pushed back and a lot of changes were made , I'm kind of struggling on filling out the forms , especially as the IRS retrieval tool is now gone. I was wondering if you had any advice on ways to make this process easier , especially for us individuals that are kind of going through this process by yourselves and don't have a lot of help and can't really ask questions to our parents.

S1:

S2: I mean , we in the offices of financial Aid are really on the side of the student and the family , and we can't troubleshoot the technical difficulties with the application , with the family. And unfortunately , we have to just refer them to Federal Student Aid or Fafsa just to get their questions answered. I mean , this student brings up a lot of new things with the new application , one being the she mentioned the data retrieval tool. So yes , that did go away. And now students and their contributor , which is also a new term , they all have to consent to using the direct data exchange , which is when the tax information from the IRS is pulled directly into the Fafsa application. And I've heard there's been some technical difficulties with that as well. But just like this student mentioned , for students that aren't sitting down and filling out the application side by side with their parent , it is really hard to get that information. The student has to submit all of their information and then invite their contributor to submit all of their information , and many families are complete. And , you know , parents and students aren't sitting down side by side to fill this out. So we at the school can definitely help , you know , in terms of kind of not walking them through the application , but guiding them and , and giving them some resources and tools. But just like families , we at the schools are also waiting for the application data to come in. I mean , without the applications , we can't even begin to have the conversations with families about what they may be eligible for. And like I mentioned , with those new students , they are waiting for the offers to to make their their decision. Right.

S1: Right. And as you just mentioned , it impacts new students , but it's also impacting current students. Right. Like we just heard.

S2: It is it is. So the application is new for all students , whether they're new or continuing. The the timing is a little bit I don't want to say easier but a little there's there's more time for our continuing students because they're not waiting on their offer to commit to a university. They're already enrolled in our schools. And so they're just waiting for their financial aid offer for the next academic year , which is equally as important. But they're not making a decision to enroll based on that offer.

S1: Um , some students may be discouraged , as we just talked about , and they may choose not to continue their study at this time.

S2: I mean , the May 1st deadline. It used to be a hard and fast deadline , and a couple of years ago , the admissions side of the House eased up. On that being a hard deadline. Most schools still hold true to that May 1st enrollment deadline , but I think that all schools are going to have to push that out , especially this year. I mean , there's always a little wiggle room there in terms of kind of pushing that deadline out. But this year , schools are going to have to push it out. How far ? I don't know. I mean , we haven't been given a timeline by the Department of Education as to when we'll start to receive Fafsa data , and everything is just so compressed. I mean , offices are anxiously awaiting the data so that we can get the offers out , but , I mean , everything's going to have to shift into into the summer months.

S1: Okay , here's another student question. This one is about eligibility. Hi.

S4: Hi. My name is Jasmine Watson. I go to San Diego State University. I'm a second year and I'm a theater performance major. And I guess one question I would have is I was wondering if it's possible for you to simplify the formula that would be used to determine our financial aid eligibility and how , in many ways , that would affect me. Thank you. Okay.

S1: Okay.

S2: It used to be called the Expected Family Contribution or better known as the EFC , and many families were confused by that because it truly does look like a dollar amount , and families were concerned that this was their bill or their balance due for the remaining of the academic year. But really , it's a measure of the family's financial strength when it comes to financial aid eligibility. It's much like a score. And so it's no longer called the expected family contribution , but it's now called the Student Aid Index. And this is my favorite change. I really think this will help families understand what that number means. And the Student Aid Index is is now what all students will have when they are being evaluated for financial aid. We're going to call it the PSI. And the calculation behind the PSI has has changed a little bit. There are far fewer questions on the Fafsa , but all of the data that a student and their contributor input on the application is fed into what's called a need analysis calculation. And that produces the PSI. The PSI is sent to the school. The school then uses that number to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible for in terms of grant and scholarship , aid , work , study and loan eligibility.

S1: And I want to move on to another student question. Take a listen.

S5: My name is Mallory Hensel. I'm a TFM production major at San Diego State University.

S1:

S2: Well , Federal Student Aid , which is within the Department of Education , has put out some , some pretty good videos this year. I mean , the videos are short and they use language that's easy to understand , to walk families through. Who needs to fill it out , how to fill it out , what information you need to provide based on certain questions. There's often confusion around reporting home values , assets , retirement plans. And there are. There's new videos and pop ups and information blurbs throughout the application so that families have a better understanding of how to answer each question.

S1:

S2: They have provided no timeline or how this process will work. There are really well , I'm sure there's more than two options , but the two biggest options right now are one , they push the data out to us and it's not correct. And we go out with financial aid offers knowing that the data is incorrect. Or two , they wait and fix it , which then pushes out schools receiving the data even further. And federal student aid has given us no indication as to to what the process will be.

S1: And so will they resolve this before sending any student Fafsa data to colleges.

S2: That is unknown at this time. I'm hopeful. I mean , I really hope that they fix it so that we can base offers off of the fixed data versus sending us incorrect data and perhaps sending it correct later , or not at all.

S1:

S2: Some schools may require a worksheet or an email a letter. So a student would want to check with their own school as to the appeal process. But there definitely is an appeal process in place. Students can submit a general appeal explaining their situation , or they can submit what's called a special circumstances appeal. For those that have already filled out a Fafsa application , you will know that it asks you for tax information that is two years old. It's called prior prior year tax data. So for the 2425 cycle , families are inputting 2022 tax information. And for many families , what's happening in 2024 is not what was happening in 2022. So this special circumstances appeal gives families the opportunity to explain to financial aid offices what's currently happening for them financially versus what was happening two years ago.

S1: I want to switch gears a bit to student loans. I mean , we've heard a lot about the rising cost of college and student debt.

S2: We highly encourage smart borrowing , and what I mean by that is just because a loan is offered to a student or a parent does not mean they have to borrow it. It is there if they need it , and they don't have to borrow the full amount that is offered to them. USD is a big investment and we recognize that , but there are federal loan limits in place to prevent students from over borrowing. So for example , a first year student can only borrow 5500 federal dollars and that goes up as they progress through their enrollment. But those federal loan limits are in place to prevent that.

S1:

S2: I highly advise that parents and students sit down and get the application submitted as soon as they can. Students start applying for scholarships. Look into the appeal process at the school you wish to attend , and at the end of the day , get in contact with the Office of Financial Aid at the school of your choice or your current college or university. Because we're here to help. We're on your side and we really want this to be a success for you.

S1: I've been speaking with Kelly Nearing , director of financial aid at the University of San Diego. Kelly , thank you so much for joining us , and thank you for your insight.

S2: Thank you.

S1: Coming up , the new chancellor of San Diego Community Colleges joins us to talk about the new programs.

S6: And so we need to be able to adapt ourselves to meet the needs of our students where they are based on their community , their experience and their interests.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back to Kpbs midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. San Diego's community colleges are not what they used to be , serving some 80,000 students each year. Area community colleges have changed how and where they teach , while also delving into challenges from San Diego's high cost of living. Acting Chancellor Gregory Smith will take on those challenges as he steps into the role permanently this week. And he joins me now to talk about the shifting role of community college and his priorities. Greg , welcome back to Midday Edition.

S6: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here.

S1: We're glad to have you. So first off , congratulations on your soon to be new , permanent role as Chancellor. Uh , you know , this is a position you have been in on temporary basis since March.

S6: And over the last ten months , what I've learned , first and foremost , is that we serve a really diverse set of community members who have specific interests and specific needs , and so we need to be able to adapt ourselves to meet the needs of our students where they are based on their community , their experience and their interests.

S1: And the San Diego Community College District raised the minimum wage for its full time employees to $30.58 an hour. That's the highest in the state by a large margin.

S6: And there are a number of factors that go into why that's not true. But , you know , just first , making sure that we can recruit and retain a highly skilled workforce for our students who can actually live in our in our region and afford increasing costs of rent , housing , food , transportation , all of our basic necessities. And so the increase that we did was based on the MIT Living Wage calculator for San Diego and what it costs to be able to afford those basic needs. And so we really benchmarking to a standard , and that is that every member of our district can earn a living wage , cover their basic needs as they serve the public education needs of our community. It also aligns with our mission. And the community colleges , um , were founded to do two primary things provide a transfer pathway for students who wanted to go on to a four year degree , and to provide workforce education to provide people with upward socioeconomic mobility , and to get into higher wage jobs , to participate in a labor market that values some work below a living wage because of a history of discrimination and segregation , and employment does not align with our values as a system , and certainly should not as an employer. So we are now living our values , ensuring that we pay a living wage as we help our community members to go out and earn a living wage.

S1: Well , California is facing a significant budget shortfall this year. Officials estimate it's a range from 38 billion to $68 billion.

S6: So in the base funding this past year , we received a cost of living increase of about $24 million in ongoing revenue. It only costs us $2 million of that 24 to do this. And so we worked with our labor partners and money that would have otherwise gone on to the salary schedule across the board , and even share was placed towards the beginning of the salary schedule in order to raise that minimum. So we didn't change the fact that those additional revenue dollars would have been used for employee compensation. We just changed where they were placed in order to meet this. So I have no concerns about being able to afford this in future years.

S1: And as you touched on earlier , the high cost of housing is at the center , really , of any discussion on San Diego's high cost of living in your tenure ? The district has broken ground on an affordable housing project meant for students in downtown. Tell us more about that. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. We are very excited that the state a couple of years ago created a grant program so that districts like ours would have the ability to access funds to get this started. We we submitted an application for San Diego City College , and we were approved for $75 million. There was a question in last year's budget about this funding. And for a period of time , they were talking about shifting to a local lease revenue bond , where we would issue a bond. We'd be responsible for debt service on that bond. That would have meant higher rents for students , and our ability to do affordable housing would have been threatened. We did a lot of advocacy with the state to help them understand that , and we were very happy. When the governor's January budget proposal , he stated that they were looking at a state lease revenue bond. So we'll continue to be advocating with the legislature about the importance of that. With that $75 million , we anticipate being able to open a student housing complex at San Diego City College within a couple of years and likely have rents at or below $1,000 a month per bed , significantly below the average price per bed in downtown San Diego right now. And addressing just one more barrier that our students face to being able to come in and complete an education.

S1:

S6: We know we cannot be the experts in everything that our students need , and so we need strong partnerships. And we found the Michaels Organization , who has , um , affordable housing developments across the country , has worked with higher education , including in California , on student housing. And they demonstrated they understood what we were trying to do and how to do that well. And so we look forward to learning from this initial development and working with them and then being able to expand this to our other colleges in the future.

S1: And so that project will provide housing for some 800 students.

S6: We're not actively planning what the next development would be. We need to learn from this initial process and continue to advocate with the legislature around state funding. I think one of the key things for people to understand is that as a is a agency of the state , in effect , we don't have the same zoning requirements with the city that a private developer might have. And so we can move much quicker. And when we just look at the availability of housing and the shortage and how that contributes to housing and security and rates of homelessness across California , I think we should be an important partner with the state and with cities on addressing homelessness. So we're going to be advocating for future funding as San Diego City College received , so that we can bring this to other colleges in the future. If that's unsuccessful , we'll look for other means working with foundations , potentially federal funding sources , other people that are working actively to address housing insecurity , that can recognize us as a partner and invest in our ability to provide it.

S1: Well , earlier in the show , we heard about some of the challenges college students are facing with financial aid.

S6: Um , tuition in our system is fixed by the chancellor's office. We obviously rely heavily on prop 98 funding and local property taxes to supplement the full cost of education for our students , so students can come and get a degree with us at a fraction of what it would cost at a CSU , at a UC and many private institutions , $46 per credit hour for in-state students right now. So absolutely the best value in higher education in terms of quality and price.

S1: And what about the delay in this year's Fafsa application ? Are many students impacted by that ? Yeah.

S6: So certainly we're working right now to provide resources to help students navigate the new Fafsa. This is a really important issue for us on multiple fronts. First and foremost is making sure students are able to access the full range of financial resources available without having to incur any debt. Um , you mentioned the Pell Grant. This is another key source of advocacy for us right now. The Pell Grant is based on a wage , um , threshold that is applied across the country. And we know that the cost of living varies widely depending on where you live , including here in California. And so the same dollar amount , it would apply to a rural part of the middle of the United States where cost of living is much lower , is is the threshold for San Diego. So someone who's earning a wage that does afford them to meet their basic needs in one part of the country would qualify for the Pell. Someone in San Diego earning that same wage doesn't qualify for the bill and is not able to meet their basic needs. So we'll be advocating to have a adjustment to the threshold that looks at the local cost of living , which would have more of our students be able to access those funds. That , in turn , would provide more revenue to the district , because part of how we're funded by the state is based on the number of students who are qualifying for the Pell.

S1: Local community colleges have also started to offer some four year bachelor's degrees , which is something not traditionally done by community colleges. Can you talk about some of those offerings and why that was a priority for the district ? Yeah.

S6: This is an area that we are incredibly interested. And it goes back to the work of our former chancellor , Doctor Constance Carroll , who was an innovator and a pioneer in California and bringing the baccalaureate program. So that began with an initial pilot. 15 colleges across the state , including San Diego Mesa College , who has been offering a baccalaureate in health information technology. That pilot program , which started in the middle of the last decade , has been very successful. It was codified into law as a permanent program in 2015 2019 , and the number of colleges that could apply each year was doubled from 15 to 30. So since 2019 , San Diego City College has successfully developed a baccalaureate in cybersecurity , an area that is both an emerging discipline and one a very high local workforce need. San Diego Miramar College was just approved for a baccalaureate in Public Safety Administration train the next generation of leaders in fire , police , first responders across many different sectors. And we're currently working on a baccalaureate program at San Diego Mesa College. What would be their second in physical therapy ? Assisting. We still have a process to go through before that one will be approved , but we're confident we're going to get there and help to address the local workforce shortage. Physical therapy assistants. The newest development is a proposed Senate Bill 895 by Senator Roth that would start a pilot program for us to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing. We know that statewide , we're facing a shortage of about 36,000 nurses. If we just look at the vacant positions among the major hospitals in the San Diego region , there's over 3000 vacancies. And so we would love to bring a bachelor's degree to San Diego City College to build on a highly successful add in program and start to train a higher level of health care provider to serve the needs of our region. And what I also think is important in that is that our students are the most diverse of any higher education system in the country and in California. And so the students that we would be providing access to a nursing baccalaureate would look fundamentally different than what private institutions and other public agencies , other public higher education institutions are graduating. So to help address disparities in the quality of health care for different communities , I think we are essential to that conversation as well as just meeting the labor shortage. Wow.

S7: Wow. Um.

S1: You know , the last time we spoke last fall , community colleges were looking to recover from big enrollment drops in the last few years.

S6: And so for this spring , similar to the fall , we have about a 10% increase in the number of enrollments as we had last spring. And we are on target to have about a 4% overall growth in our full time equivalent students year over year for the second year in a row. Um , we're still about 10% short in our full time equivalent students from where we were prior to the pandemic , when the enrollment decline began. But we've made significant progress. Cut that about in half over the last two years , and I'm confident we're going to continue to to see that growth trend over the next two years and fully restore ourselves.

S1: Um , for anyone looking at college or to return to the classroom. Um , how would they get started ? Is there an application deadline coming up ? And what do prospective students need to know ? Yeah.

S6: So for someone who might be interested in rolling in our spring or excuse me , in our summer , um , semester enrollment for summer will open here shortly. Um , fall enrollment will be , um , starting a little bit later into the spring. The first thing that I would recommend someone do is to look at the offerings of our our three credit colleges , or if they're interested in a workforce certificate , a non-credit certificate , our College of Continuing Education. And then reach out and make an appointment and talk to one of our counselors about what their interests are and get the guidance they need on how to navigate the application process itself , how to understand the classes that they're going to want to take , and start to create a plan to get that done. Um , now would be the perfect time to reach out so that you can be prepared the day that enrollment opens. Um , to go online , fill out the application and get started.

S1: I've been speaking with Gregory Smith , chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. Uh , Chancellor , thank you so much for joining us. And congratulations again.

S6: Thank you.

S1: Coming up , NPR's Aisha Roscoe joins us to talk about her new book on the HBCU experience.

S8: You just see how the world has been impacted by HBCUs in a really profound way.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Historically , black colleges and universities , otherwise known as HBCUs , are some of the most culturally significant institutions in the country. My alma mater , Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University , among them. My time there was a rich and nurturing experience that sharpened me. Many HBCU grads share in that experience , including NPR Weekend Edition Sunday host Aisha Orozco , whose new book HBCU Made a celebration of the Black College Experience , explores the breadth of the HBCU experience by calling on alums to tell their stories. That includes some of the most influential figures in American culture today , like former Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams , Oprah and my classmate , comedian Roy Wood Jr. Aisha joins me now to talk about the HBCU experience and its significance to the black community in America as a whole. Aisha , welcome to Midday Edition and congratulations on your book.

S8: Oh , thank you so much for having me.

S1: So glad to have you here. You know , in the first few pages of your book , you share a little bit about how you became a Howard University bison.

S8: Even though my mother went to an HBCU , Winston-Salem State University. Eventually my sister would as well go to Winston-Salem state , and my my brother went to Shaw. I was like , okay , I want to blaze my own path , but I knew I want to get out of state. And I looked at Howard really as a place that just it just had this coolness to it that I felt like just drawn to. I just felt like it was the Mecca. I felt like if I could make it in Howard , I could make it anywhere. And Howard , to me , because it wasn't because it was in D.C. , it felt like the very big city. You know , I'm from Durham , North Carolina , so it felt like I was going to a place where I , you know , would really be challenged , but that I could really grow. And it was the absolute right decision. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S8: I learned that I am capable of much more than I thought. I , you know , I had been very sheltered and I was so shy and introverted , but I knew I wanted to be a journalist. And those are kind of weird traits to have together , um , when you're trying to be a journalist. But I , I saw that I was determined to get the job done right. Like , so , even though I was shy , if I had a story to do , I would do it right. You know , I would put that to the side , uh , to the best of my ability , and I would get it done. And so I learned that. I also learned about just being prepared , making sure you put your best foot forward , because how it can be a tough crowd , like , you know , if you don't come correct , they will call you out on it. And so I learned like you have to you have to come correct. You got to be ready and be ready. Stay ready so you don't have to get ready. And so those are some of the things that I learned. Yeah. Same.

S1: Same. That is the HBCU lesson right there. Yeah.

S7: Yeah.

S1: Uh , you know , many other HBCU graduates share your experience in one way or another. And your book contains powerful essays and testimonials from some very influential HBCU graduates.

S8: And I didn't realize that , that there was no , like , you know , major publishing company that had published a collection of essays like this. And so when I learned that I was like , this should have been done , you know , a long time ago. Um , and I just thought that this was something that could , you know , just give back a little bit of what I've gotten from HBCUs. I really wanted by everyone being able to tell their own personal story , that people would feel like they're talking to people one on one , and they're getting the real , the good , the bad , the ugly , but really getting the love that people have for HBCUs and why they have that love. And that's what I wanted people to get from these essays. Yeah.

S1: Yeah.

S8: All stood out to me the most. But what ? But what I will say is , you know , I always go back to Roy with Junior's story , which I felt like was so powerful , the , you know , word with junior comedian , he was just on the Emmys stage getting an Emmy for The Daily Show. Um , and , you know , he talked about being at Famu at your alma mater and getting into trouble and having to go to the professors at Famu to to try to get a second chance. And he got that second chance. And now we see everything that he's able to do and he's been able to do because they saw more in him than his mistake. And I think that that is is so powerful. You know , I think when you look at a Stacey Abrams and you read about her getting her start in politics at Spelman , she ran for her first office , political office , as I think freshman secretary , um , at Spelman. And she started going to city council meetings because of a professor there. Um , you just see how the world has been impacted by HBCUs in a really profound way.

S7: Yeah , yeah.

S1: I mean , that that nurturing experience is something that goes a long way. I totally share in that experience. You know , what was the common thread everyone shared in their essays that you picked up on.

S8: Community , like over and over again , you saw that there was , um , you know , something that went beyond just a student in a classroom , almost like a family experience. I mean , you , Sean Zachary went to southern , um , University , and she's now , uh , the majorette team director for Prairie View. And she talked about , like , you know , being a major editor at southern and just having this family that she missed when she left the HBCU , because she had always had these people who were always there and rooting for her. Right. Um , you also had Tendai Kumba , who is a Broadway dancer and singer who got into like an accident , um , when she was at Spelman and she didn't know if she would dance again. But her Spelman community , you know , rises up to support her. And now she's on Broadway. And so I just think you see community over and over again. You also see diversity. There are black people from all over the world with all sorts of experiences , rich , you know , poor first generation college students. And so you see that the black experience is not a monolith. So I would say community and diversity really stood out to me. Yeah.

S7: I mean.

S1: And you mentioned diversity. I mean , when I chose to go to an HBCU , so many of my black friends sadly didn't see the value in going to an institution like that because they felt the campuses were were not diverse enough and didn't reflect the real world is what they would always say. Yet of course they went to majority white colleges. But in your book , again , you touched on the diversity at HBCUs. Tell me more about that. Yeah.

S8: Yeah. You know , I mean , I think that I was you know , I saw that in so many , uh , in so many essays where you would have , you know , people would talk about , you know , I went to this school and I saw that. Wait a minute. There are black people from all over the world , um , you know , all different , you know , the Caribbean from , you know , the continent of Africa , all all over the place , um , with all sorts of different experiences. There were people that , you know , summered on Martha's Vineyard , uh , you know , and then there's a very funny , um , essay , uh , Lauren F Ellis. Uh , she went to Hampton , and now she works for special effects on all the big superhero movies that everyone watches. And she talked about running into her first black Republican on Hampton on Hampton's campus. Uh , like in the. I think it was like , her first day. And so , I mean , I think there is a wide range , you know , and as you , as you know , um , from of all sorts of perspectives that you find on an HBCU campus.

S1: Yeah , I mean , that the diversity made my experience so rich. Um , okay. So the title of your book is HBCU made.

S8: But what I mean by that is rich in the humanity of the black experience. So you know that you can be yourself. And that doesn't mean that you're the same as every other black person. But you can you know that you are worthy of you know of place , that you are worthy of the power that you exude , that you're worthy of authority , and that you can stand in your own presence and your own power. And that is , it is worthwhile in a world that will tell us over and over again that you don't deserve to. Be here. Why are you here ? That we see over and over again that you do deserve to have a place. And I think that's what it means to be HBCU made. And it makes the world a better place.

S1: I've been speaking with Aisha Roscoe , host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday and author of the book HBCU Made a Celebration of the Black College Experience. Aisha , thank you so much.

S8: Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah , we got some Famu folks in there , and I'm surprised you weren't teasing me about that celebration bowl. I talked to Leoneda Inge. I said I was going.

S1: To be nice today.

S8: She was talking about that celebration bowl. My goodness.

S7: You know , fam.

S1: You people brag different , you. Know.

S8: Know.

S1: As we say.

S8: So much.

S7: Thank you , thank you.

S1: And maybe we'll meet next year and at the celebration Bowl again. Yeah.

S8: Yeah. We'll see. Yeah.

S7: Yeah.

Javier Silva Ayala, 19, on his way to lunch after a morning class at San Diego State University, Dec. 4, 2013. Silva Ayala is one of 7,469 California college students who immigrated to the country illegally and now receive state-funded financial aid.
Guillermo Sevilla
Javier Silva Ayala, 19, on his way to lunch after a morning class at San Diego State University, Dec. 4, 2013.

College acceptance letters will soon arrive, but students and their families are facing questions about financial aid assistance due to delays with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. A financial aid expert gives advice to students of how to navigate the changes to the FAFSA and the delays colleges are experiencing.

Plus, San Diego's community colleges welcome a new permanent leader this week. We hear from San Diego Community College District Chancellor Gregory Smith about his vision for the future of community colleges in the region.

And, we hear from NPR's Ayesha Rascoe and her new book about historically Black colleges and universities, and their significance to the Black community and the United States as a whole.

Guests:

Kellie Nehring, director of financial aid, University of San Diego

Gregory Smith, chancellor, the San Diego Community College District

Ayesha Rascoe, host, Weekend Edition Sunday, author, "HBCU Made: A Celebration of the Black College Experience"