Financial aid deadlines for college applications are fast approaching, with the state deadlines for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act on March 2.

The applications can be confusing, especially for first-generation students. Interested students and families are encouraged to attend a Cash for College financial aid workshop Thursday at John O’Connell High School from 5:30 to 8 p.m. to learn about their options.

“For undocumented students who are weary about funding their education, fortunately, there is aid available for certain students who qualify through the [California Dream Act],” said Gina Gonzalez, associate director of the Japanese Community Youth Council Educational Talent Search.

“I would assure them that any information they share with us or on the application is not going to be passed along, and that if they have questions to come talk to us so we can best support their specific situation,” she added.

Participants will receive guidance in completing the financial aid forms. The workshop is free and available to anyone, not just students at O’Connell High. By filing the FAFSA application, prospective college students become eligible for grants, loans and scholarships for the 2019-2020 school year.

Attendees are asked to bring the following information that applies to them: 2017 federal income tax returns, proof of income, Social Security number or ITIN, and an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). Students must create an FSA ID to apply for FAFSA or the California Dream Act; this step can be completed before the workshop.

O’Connell High students may visit their school’s College and Career Center for assistance in creating their FSA ID before the Cash for College event.

Again, the deadlines are March 2, and for families without federal identification, it is recommended that they submit the federal aid applications as soon as possible to avoid processing delays.