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As City College of San Francisco prepares for hearings on the academic achievement gap among Latinos, blacks, Filipinos and Pacific Islander students when compared to white and Asian counterparts,  one administrator said a huge problem was students who are trying to attend school without adequate financial aid.

Chris Jackson, a City College trustee, said that 60 percent of students who qualify for federal and state financial aid don’t apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—the first step in seeking monies for tuition and books.

When students don’t have to worry about how they will pay for books or classes, they can better focus on learning and completing their educational goals, Jackson said.

“We need to do a better job,” Jackson said.

Financial aid is one of the barriers that student, faculty and administrators will examine in the first of three hearings on Feb. 9 from  3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at City College’s Ocean campus at 50 Phelan Ave. in San Francisco.
A City College report titled “Student Achievement Gap and Social Equity Report,” showed that transfer rates for Latinos, black, Native American, Filipino, Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian at the college are 19 to 21 percent lower than the overall than their white or Asian counterparts.

Jackson said they hope to implement policies reflecting the outcomes of the hearings to improve student success, including possibly having a one-stop shop for students to find information on financial aid and other programs, such as the Latino Student Network, that are helping students succeed.