Local non-profit helps first generation students with tutoring and financial aid

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you’re the parent of a college hopeful, you know how expensive it can be to get a four-year degree. Often student loans are included in the equation and can take decades to pay off.

A local nonprofit helps some of the most deprived, first-generation college students.

Even as a teenage mother, Gladys Macias was able to finish high school and was determined to become the first in her family to graduate.

“I felt it was up to me to make them proud and I owe it to them and I to myself,” she said.

However, there was one major concern.

“How am I going to pay for school?” she said. “Who is going to guide me through these processes?”

One of her teachers introduced her to ScholarShot.

ScholarShot provides academic managers for study planning, budgeting and personal support. Depending on need, participants can receive up to $6,000 per year in financial assistance.

The nonprofit was founded by a group of professionals, educators, and community volunteers who reviewed data from the TEA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2009.

“So it showed, for example, that if you’re first-generation, nine out of ten of those kids who enroll in college drop out,” ScholarShot director Dan Hooper said.

“If you’re lucky enough to get a degree in Texas, the average debt is $45,000,” Hooper said. “And for our kids, when they go into that much debt, they go into the workplace as a target for subprime practices and that will stick with them for years to come.”

Hooper has written a book called Fleece U: How American Universities Are Robbbing Our Kids and Our Future, which highlights the situation.

“For parents, be very deliberate with your daughter or son to avoid debt,” he said.

In part, he says you can:

  • Taking advanced placement classes in high school can help you earn college credits.
  • Consider attending a community college for two years, which can be about 1/3 the cost of a four-year college.
  • When it comes to your bachelor’s degree, consider a university close to home so you can save on housing and other costs.

“I get emotional because it was just the helping hand I needed,” Macias said. “The guidance I needed.”

Last year she finally reached her goal.

The UNT Dallas graduate is now working on her dream job and is an excellent role model for her family.

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