Students Can Find Success at Community College

Open up New Opportunities this Year of the Dragon by Pursuing Your Dream
By: Menglu Xiao, a student at Irvine Valley College

Lunar New Year is an important holiday for many Asian communities, whether you’re celebrating Tết for Vietnamese communities, Chinese New Year, or Seollal for Korean communities. This year’s celebration—the Year of the Dragon—is especially lucky, with families looking forward to a year of good fortune, success, and new opportunities.

This year as I reflect on the holiday and set my intentions for this year, I’m setting myself up for success by getting my 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completed and submitted before the April 2nd priority deadline.

In fact, this is a great time for all students interested in attending college to plan for their future by applying for their FAFSA. For new and returning students, the new FAFSA application has been updated to help make applying for financial aid quicker and easier to complete; it is now open for submissions at

By submitting a FAFSA application, students can maximize the financial aid they qualify for, which are funds provided to students to pay for educational expenses such as tuition and fees, books, and supplies and even living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation.

Here are three key takeaways about the new FAFSA that you should know: 

  • FAFSA applications can be submitted now. Students can apply today by visiting
  • The FAFSA deadline is extended, but don’t wait. While the California Student Aid Commission has extended the priority deadline for students from March 2 to April 2, 2024, students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. California community college students have a bit more time with final application submissions available as late as Sept. 3, 2024, but earlier is better. 
  • The application is simpler. Specifically, the new application has fewer questions, expanded Pell Grant eligibility, and integrates with the Internal Revenue Service so information is pre-populated into the online form. It also updated its formula calculations to help students get more aid. 

Beyond financial aid, now is also a great time for new and prospective students to look at applying for classes at their local community college. California community colleges offer many opportunities to sign up for classes, with new class offerings opening every semester. Students interested in applying today can even enroll in late-term spring courses or look ahead for courses they may want to take over the summer or in the fall.

For most students like me, community college courses are available at little or no cost—once they have completed their FAFSA—while providing countless opportunities to get ahead. Whether you want to jump into a fulfilling career right away, transfer to a four-year university to continue your education or get the education and training to change careers— a California community college can help.

Make the year of the dragon the year you change your life. Discover new opportunities that await you by visiting today.  


About Menglu:

Menglu Xiao is a current student at Irvine Valley College majoring in psychology. Her goal is to transfer to Cal State Long Beach and pursue a degree in Social Work. Currently, she works as a behavioral technician, working with children with autism. As an adult immigrant to the U.S., she understands first-hand how difficult it is for non-English speakers to start over in a new country. She is grateful for the opportunities she has had at Irvine Community College and believes that community college provides everyone with a second chance at life, allowing them to rewrite their story.

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