Paying for College 101


by Stephanie Bravo

Pursuing higher education is definitely a challenge for Latinas, especially when the costs for college increase year after year. These tips for college students and recent graduates will help pay for your college education.

1. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (aka FAFSA):

FAFSAEvery year in March students have the best opportunity to get college paid in full. FAFSA is a government program that is specifically designed to pay for higher education, and is the gateway for loans, Pell Grants, and other student aid opportunities like Work-Study. Fill out a free application today at

And for all those DREAMers out there—Governor Jerry Brown wants you to succeed in college too! The governor unveiled that financial aid will now be available to AB 540 students. Check out this recent CNN article for more information on the California Dream Act.

2. Scholarships:

Free money for college please! This is your chance to get money for college that you don’t ever have to pay back. Usually these require applications where you have to submit your background information, transcripts, and essays about a topic and why you deserve the scholarship. Here are some websites that compile and compare the abundant scholarships out there: National Council of La Raza’s Lideres Opportunities,, The College Board Scholarship Search, and Latino College Dollars.

Also, check out local foundations like the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for opportunities specific to your area. These scholarships usually have a smaller number of applicants and want to invest in local students, so you’ll have a better shot at winning them. 

3. Public Service After College:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness: If you work for a nonprofit for 10 years after you graduate, then you will get the remaining balance of your student loans forgiven through this program. A great deal for all those socially conscious mujeres promoting the greater good and committed to changing the world!

Teach For America: Teach for two years in a low-income community, and serve as a ro-model to all those disadvantaged youth who look up to you. Learn about the dire need for Latino teachers and the inspirational story of one Latina, Patricia Leon-Guerrero, the Director of National Alliances at Teach For America who is leading the charge to increase Latinas in the noble profession of teaching.

Stephanie Bravo is the Co-Founder and President of, a nonprofit organization that helps college students achieve their academic and career goals through the power of mentoring. As a first generation college student, Stephanie was only able to graduate from San Jose State University earning a B.A. in Psychology through the help of a mentorship program. Her life-changing experience with a mentor inspired her to help other students succeed in higher education. Stephanie is an active advocate for increasing Latinos in higher education through her volunteer work at the Latina Coalition for Silicon Valley and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Stephanie is a proud Mexican-American spanning back four generations to the 1940s when her great-grandparents retired migrant farming and settled in San Jose, California.