Sunday, March 10, 2013

California students leave hundreds of millions in aid untapped

February 28, 2013 | 6:05 pm
Only about half of California ’s high school seniors applied for federal and state financial aid last year -- leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, according to a report by Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based nonprofit advocacy group.
The report, released Thursday, found that low-income students who qualified for college aid essentially left millions in financial aid untapped simply by not completing the federal and state applications.
About 54% of seniors in the state completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, in the 2012-13 financial aid year. About half of those students applied for a Cal Grant, the state-funded, need-based financial aid program that provides guaranteed awards to graduates with at least a grade point average of at least 2.0.
“Too many California students never get the opportunity to attend college because their families believe they can’t afford the tuition,” said Orville Jackson, the author of the report. “Our analysis suggests that thousands of academically qualified, low-income students are losing out on their college dreams because they weren’t given the information and encouragement they needed to fill out a financial aid application.”
In the Los Angeles Unified School District , application rates varied widely.
At Los Angeles High School of the Arts, 92% of seniors completed the federal aid application.
About 75% of seniors at Fairfax High School completed the federal and state applications.
At Jordan High School in Watts , however, only 36% of seniors completed the federal application and 44% sought state aid.
The report suggested that lawmakers and educators increase communication to districts, schools and students about the availability of aid and the importance for applying for it. The report also encouraged greater transparency on aid application rates to further publicize the gap in participation.
“In the coming years, California will need millions more college graduates and certificate holders just to meet the needs of our economy,” said Arun Ramanathan, the nonprofit's executive director. “As Californians, we must ensure that all of academically and financially qualified students access the financial aid they need to attend college and transform their lives.”
Is Someone You Know in a Cult?
Survivor Shares 5 Warning Signs
The difference between “religion” and “cult” can often seem slight.

These days, many are apt to describe believers as one big community of faith, but the fact remains that there are very important differences among various belief systems, says Richard E. Kelly, a self-described “survivor” of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“On the spectrum of faiths, I put the Watchtower Society – Jehovah’s Witnesses – closer to the (Charles) Manson Family cult than I do, say, the Lutheran Church,” says Kelly,, author of “Growing Up in Mama’s Club – A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “The Ghosts from Mama’s Club.” The books detail his experiences growing up in a Jehovah’s Witnesses household, the ensuing family disharmony and how the cultish legacy contributed to his sister’s murder.

The following beliefs should be considered cult constructs, he says.

• Certainty that the world will end in one’s lifetime: This is a crucial pill to swallow for a subsequent list of cult beliefs, which keep followers in a perpetual state of fear. If only one holds true enough to a strict set of rules – like avoiding pledges of allegiance at school, for example – then they may be spared at Armageddon.
• Social manipulation: For Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not observant of all rules, ostracism and shunning is used. How to handle someone who questions policy? Make sure their family ignores them!
• Cripple half of the members (women): For Jehovah’s Witnesses, women are seen as creatures trapped somewhere between men and animals in God’s hierarchy. No woman can have a position of authority, which means it's men only for preaching, teaching and praying. If there’s an official meeting and a woman prays she must cover her head out of respect for the angels who might be there.

• Scorning education: Who needs advanced learning when the world is sure to end in a few short years? Kelly’s sister, Marilyn, had very little education, so when she was finally able to leave home, she had few coping skills. She ultimately met an abusive third husband, who later murdered her.

• Sexually repressive: Jehovah’s Witnesses are thoroughly indoctrinated in how to harness the power of the sex drive to please God. It’s obsessive compulsive when it comes to creating rules about sexual do's and don’ts, from masturbation to the role of women; from conception to sexual pleasure. Sex before marriage is an onerous crime, punishable by shunning and death at Armageddon.

About Richard E. Kelly

Richard E. Kelly grew up as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At 20, while working at the religion’s headquarters, he left the group to live with his wife, Helen, in New York City . Because Kelly’s family believed Armageddon was imminent, his education was limited to what was required by law, since there would be no future. However, he went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting, a master’s in business and become president of a Michigan manufacturing company. He now enjoys retirement with his family and friends.