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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Gov’t urges students to seek federal student aid grants

Chris Soto (seen here standing directly to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s left), the principal adviser of the U.S. Department of Education, said of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid: “We know it will open the doors to a college education, providing more federal aid to students. Puerto Rican students and families deserve every one of our efforts.”

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia; Chris Soto, the principal adviser of the federal Department of Education; and island Education Secretary Yanira Raíces Vega on Monday joined the White House call to urge university students and graduating seniors to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“University education is key for our young people; it shapes their minds, opens doors, and paves the way for a future of prosperity and success. That is why it is essential to continue expanding and democratizing access to education for every son and daughter of our land,” Pierluisi said at an event held at José Celso Barbosa School in Puerta de Tierra. “The federal Department of Education is key to these goals, particularly with Pell Grants. This much-needed aid has been a lifeline for countless Puerto Rican students, allowing them to access quality higher education at our public and private universities and easing their financial burden. I must point out that we must celebrate the significant increase in the Pell Grant cap by the Biden-Harris Administration to $7,395, as it is an act of great social justice that will change the lives of thousands and thousands of young American citizens, including those who reside here in Puerto Rico.”

During the event it was noted that the FAFSA form underwent significant changes last year to simplify the filling process and ensure that everyone who needs it can access federal assistance. Like any change, the process has had challenges, which is why guidance is essential and everyone who can help young people should do so. The federal Education Department seeks more than 650,000 additional students to fill out the FAFSA and expects that about 7.1 million students will be eligible for aid in the new 2024-2025 period.

Soto, who is the principal adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, said: “We congratulate the commitment of the governor, the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, higher education leaders, economic aid officials, and the community for joining the week of action to encourage students to complete and submit their FAFSA form.”

“The FAFSA is the top priority for the U.S. Department of Education,” he said. “We know it will open the doors to a college education, providing more federal aid to students. Puerto Rican students and families deserve every one of our efforts.”

Raíces Vega added that “this is the first time that the Puerto Rico Department of Education has worked so closely with the federal Department of Education.”

“These collaborative ties stem from a great relationship that Governor Pierluisi has built and to which we have continued leading the agency,” she said. “For us it is extremely important that our students continue post-secondary studies and we will join forces to collaborate with them in everything they need so that they can apply for federal aid to pay for their studies.”

The federal Education Department provides various resources to assist students and their families in completing the FAFSA. They include YouTube videos and tips to clarify doubts, as well as seminars to guide them through the process. This Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m., the first virtual seminar, or webinar, will be held in Spanish by the federal Education Department on how to complete the FAFSA form.

“Education is the key to success for our youth, so we will always collaborate to ensure that each young person has the tools and opportunities necessary to reach their maximum potential and contribute to the future of our island,” the governor said. “I am honored to be able to join the Biden-Harris Administration and the federal Department of Education in the goal of helping our young people get ahead.”

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