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Local non-profit helps first generation college students with guidance and financial assistance

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

A local non-profit is working to help some of those most in need, first generation college students.

Even as a teen mom, Gladys Macias was able to graduate high school and was determined to become the first in her family to graduate college.

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

However, there was one major concern.

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

One of her teachers introduced her to ScholarShot.

ScholarShot provides academic managers for degree planning, budgeting and personal support. Participants may receive up to $6,000 per year in financial support depending on need.

The non-profit was founded by a group of professionals, educators and community volunteers who in 2009 looked at data from the TEA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“So it showed for example if you’re first generation, nine out of 10 of those kids who enroll in college drop out,” ScholarShot Executive Director Dan Hooper said.

“If you’re lucky enough to earn a degree in Texas, the average debt is $45,000,” Hooper said. “And for our kids, if they take on that much debt they go to the workplace as a target for subprime practices and that will hang over them for years.”

Hooper has authored a book called Fleece U: How American Universities are Robbing Our Kids and Our Future which brings awareness to the situation.

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

In part, he says you can:

  • Taking advanced placement classes in high school can help you earn college credit.
  • Consider doing two years at a community college, which can be about 1/3 the cost of a four year university.
  • When it comes to your undergrad – consider college close to home so you can save on housing and other costs.

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

Last year, she finally accomplished her goal.

The UNT Dallas grad is now working her dream job while setting an excellent example for her family.



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