Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Raul Aguilera earned three associate’s degrees at Santa Barbara City College before transferring to California State University, Northridge, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He has been a Scholarship Foundation program advisor since June 2017.
What is your busiest time of year as an SFSB program advisor and why?
The beginning of the school year – September through November – as that’s when students begin applying for financial aid. In early September, we present information on the process, including what students and parents will need to complete their applications. In October, we host informational events at area high schools, and continue to meet individually with students and parents.
How does one schedule an appointment or workshop with an SFSB program advisor?
Simply call our office or email us.
Are students and/or parents required to bring documentation to SFSB financial aid appointments?
It’s not a requirement, but we generally advise students and parents to bring complete tax and financial information.
What is the most gratifying part of your job?
Working with students and parents. Helping them is always exhilarating, and the feeling never gets old. I also enjoy it when past Scholarship Foundation recipients tell me that our support made a significant difference when they were in college.
Do you ever hear back from the people you’ve helped as an SFSB program advisor?
Occasionally. It probably happens most often in relation to Eureka!, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s college prep program, which takes place over successive summers. I see the same cohort of girls for two summers and around Carpinteria High School.
How did you come to work in student outreach services? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
I have always wanted to be a teacher or work with students. I like working with students one-on-one or in a group setting, helping them learn. I also like working with parents and helping them understand financial aid and other aspects of college.
What would you say to students or parents who may be reluctant to pursue financial aid counseling?
I would urge them to take advantage of every available service, especially if it is free! They have nothing to lose, and much to gain! Apply even if you suspect you don’t qualify, as you may be pleasantly surprised.
What is your most memorable experience as an SFSB program advisor?
Fun in the Sun, United Way’s summer learning program for at-risk children, is always memorable. The students are invariably enthusiastic, and the energy is infectious. Empowering students with knowledge is a great start to better things!
What is the biggest misconception about financial aid?
Students often assume they’re ineligible by virtue of their parents’ income. There is a great deal of help out there, and some of it is based entirely on merit, talent, and skills! Another big misconception is that loans are to be avoided. Loans are not bad in themselves, and can be the difference between a student attending college and dropping out. Educate yourself as to the types of loans available, and their terms and conditions, and – I can’t emphasize this enough – do NOT take out more money than you need. Interest can add up quickly!