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Padres Estrellas Helps Hoosier Students Get Financial Aid

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021   

A state-run outreach program is working to ensure Indiana's Latino and Hispanic students have equal access to financial aid for post-secondary education.

Padres Estrellas, or "Star Parents," supports students by helping them file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, and access state financial aid programs. José Medina, school and community outreach manager for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, said the eight parents in the group connect with community organizations across the state to reach new students.

"The Padres Estrellas are really connected to their Latino or Hispanic communities," he said, "and know, 'Who do we need to partner with? Where's the community partner, or the school or the church, that we need to go to, to get in front of these parents and talk about these programs?'"

Medina said Padres Estrellas also focuses on informing folks about two programs: the Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant, which offers free training for high-demand fields, and the 21st Century Scholars initiative, which provides college financial aid. From 2017 to 2019, according to the state, about 3,300 Hispanic or Latino and about 15,000 white students graduated from high school with aid for college from the 21st Century Scholars program.

While Padres Estrellas primarily focuses on outreach for those two programs, Indiana offers at least 10 other state-run financial aid initiatives. In the 2021 fiscal year, Medina said, Indiana distributed nearly $390 million in financial aid.

"If you want to get education or training after high school, we support you in that," he said. "You probably qualify for a state financial aid program to help you get that training or certification, or college education, to get you the opportunities to get a high-paying, high-demand job here in the state of Indiana."

A 2021 College Equity Report finds Hispanic and Latino students are the fastest-growing demographic in Indiana schools, and are poised to become the second-largest group of students overall.

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Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

(Editor's note: Producer Jonah Chester received financial aid through the 21st Century Scholars program from 2014 to 2018.)


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