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Seniors in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District began exploring financial aid and the application process for colleges and universities this week.

At Santa Maria High School, the majority of about 600 seniors are expected to take a pledge to complete the process to apply for financial aid and receive a free snow cone if they provide proof during lunch on Friday. On Monday (Oct. 2), there is a “Free Cash For College” workshop from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside the library. Information on financial aid, grants and scholarships will be available.

“I’m hoping to get accepted to a university and study environmental engineering and that is stressful enough,’’ said Saint ASB President Jennifer Hernandez. “I attended the parent meeting last week, I left excited because I learned that we were going to have a financial aid event on our campus.”

The first of the county-wide workshops at SMHS is being put on by Cuesta College, the California Student Aid Commission, Cal-SOAP, ECMC (a student loan guarantor), Allan Hancock College and others, according to Saint Counselor Monica Pallan.

At Pioneer Valley and Delta High Schools, counselors are working with seniors on the basics, providing forms, and will also host the “Free Cash For College” series.

The district-wide undertaking started at Righetti High School on Wednesday with the Reach Higher Academy. The Academy, which will involve several sessions, is part of the former First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative. It is an effort to inspire every student in America to complete their education beyond high school, whether at a professional training program, community college or four-year college or university.

Topics featured inside the Warrior cafeteria included the application process, financial aid, resumes, required testing, brag sheets and other necessities, according to Righetti School Counselor Eric Blanco.

The Warriors are collaborating with community partners: UCSB, Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Allan Hancock College and others,’’ according to Righetti School Counselor Julie Santoyo.

College and university application season is from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 while Federal Student Aid season is from Oct. 1 to March 2.

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.