“I remember the day I saw paramedics in action. My neighbor collapsed and the paramedics came and saved their life right in front of me. I told my brother, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to save people’s lives,’” says Jayla.
“I learned that if I want to be a paramedic and in emergency services, I also have to become a firefighter. I have a job and have been involved in a school group to prepare,” Jayla explains.
“I knew college is what I’d have to do to further my education in the field.”
Jayla says she’ll be the first in her family to go off to college. “One of my family members went to school, but they took online classes and never went on campus. I plan on going to college and staying until I get my degree.”
“College is going to be pretty hard, but I’m okay with it because I know being a paramedic is really what I want to do.”
Unsure if she was eligible for financial aid
Jayla remembers meeting Ms. Jasmine from Cash for College at her school. “She was very informative and told me about the FAFSA.”
“At one point, I thought about not filling it out,” she admits. “I wasn’t sure whether I would receive any money.”
“But I knew my family couldn’t pay for all my college. All my classmates were filling it out, working on computers. We knew we couldn’t pay for college by ourselves, so it was a good idea to try.”
“Just the chance I would actually get money from the FAFSA made me think it was worth it. I thought, you never know. It might be worth it in the long run. College is very expensive to pay for out of pocket.”
Filling out the FAFSA at school
“I told my mom I needed her tax papers to apply for financial aid, and she understood. I didn’t really have to go into detail about it,” Jayla remembers. Then, she went to a workshop hosted by Ms. Jasmine and otherworkers from Cash for College.
“There is literally nothing to be intimidated about. It is not like a math test or an exam or anything.”
But filling out the FAFSA took a little longer than she thought.
“I filled out the FAFSA at school. Our class periods are very short, so it took me almost a week to finish it. I kept needing more of my mom’s information, so I had to call her during work.”
“It made it a little frustrating and dragged out the process,” says Jayla.
Having Ms. Jasmine available to help made a difference. “If we had any questions or needed help, she was there. Some parts I needed help with, and she made it very clear to me what was going on. She was polite and helpful — I saw her moving around and helping everyone.”
After completing the FAFSA, it didn’t take long for Jayla to find out she was getting financial aid.
“I was very excited. At first, I was thinking that I was going to be in debt for college. I was happy I didn’t have to do this on my own. I told my mom, and she was excited for me, too.”
Jayla’s advice: Don’t worry, it’s not a test
“There is literally nothing to be intimidated about,” says Jayla. “It is not like a math test or an exam or anything. The FAFSA is a form to get your personal information to get you money for college. I didn’t find anything hard about it.”
“Make sure you have all your parent’s information because, if you don’t have it, it will take a little longer to complete. If you’re prepared, you can complete the FAFSA faster.”
“I would be sad if I had to pay for college on my own. When I found out I was eligible for financial aid, I felt some relief.”
Jayla will be attending Jefferson State Community College. She plans to study to become an EMT/paramedic and go on to be a firefighter.