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Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 10:45am
Dobbs Ferry Campus



Mercy College and Latino U College Access have joined together for FAFSA First!, a program aimed at helping first-generation Hispanic students navigate the complex process of applying for state and federal financial aid. Led by Latino U College Access, high school seniors and parents will receive free assistance to complete their financial aid applications.   

Saturday, February 27

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Victory Hall

Mercy College

Dobbs Ferry, New York


FAFSA First! is a Latino U program where bilingual volunteers help students complete financial aid applications, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the New York Tuition Assistance Program (NY TAP) application, to help pay for college.

Latino U College Access Founder Shirley Acevedo Buontempo said: “Failing to complete a FAFSA is a fundamental barrier to attaining a college degree.  Students who complete the FAFSA could be eligible for Pell grants of up to $5,775 per year and subsidized student loans with no interest while they are enrolled in college. Students who complete the NY TAP form and attend college in New York could be eligible to receive up to $5,165 per year of state aid in addition to their federal grants.”   

Mercy College President Tim Hall said: “Research indicates that students who apply for federal and state financial aid will be able to better afford to complete college.  I know all too well how confusing those applications can be and we want to do all we can to help.  We want to help remove barriers.”    

Buontempo added: “Latino youth, many of whom are first in their family to go to college, have no help completing financial aid forms.  Through our commitment, we are helping to improve the educational attainment of Hispanic youth in Westchester County by supporting their college dreams so that they may fulfill their academic potential and ensure the success of future generations.”

In October, FAFSA First! was recognized by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) for making a meaningful and quantifiable contribution to increase and support educational outcomes for Latinos by improving their access to financial aid.

Buontempo said: “FAFSA First!" activities will increase financial literacy on the topic of financial aid and increase FAFSA completion. Latino U’s goals are to educate and empower Hispanic students and families to navigate the complex financial aid process, improve the understanding of college costs while increasing FAFSA completion among Westchester County Hispanic students applying to college.” 

HESC Acting President Elsa Magee said: “Among high school graduates, far fewer Latino students immediately enroll in college compared with other students, so the FAFSA completion efforts of the Coalition and Latino U College Access will truly serve to improve the educational achievement of Latino and all students in Westchester County.”

The Westchester County Coalition includes Latino U College Access as the lead organization and community coalition partners including Mercy College, Westchester County Government - Westchester County Youth Bureau, NY State Higher Education Services Corporation (NY HESC)/College Goal New York, local school districts.