REPORT: The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California

An analysis of newly available FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Cal Grant application data by The Education Trust–West finds that low-income California students may be missing out on potentially hundreds of millions of student aid dollars. The Education Trust–West calculated FAFSA completion rates and Cal Grant completion and award rates both statewide and for individual California high schools. The findings are presented in the newly released report, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California, and related website, The data reveal that only 54 percent of high school seniors in California’s public high schools completed the FAFSA in the 2012-13 financial aid year. Only 50 percent of seniors completed the Cal Grant application.

Published: October 8, 2014


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.