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FAFSA Expert Tira Lawhorn connects students to financial aid

Tira Lawhorn, Amador College Connect’s college financial aid “wizard,” is the type of dedicated professional who responds to students even while on vacation. Coastline Community College online student, Harmony Lopez, learned this recently when Lawhorn called in from her vacation to answer a question Lopez had about the status of her financial aid application. With only three days until classes were to start Lawhorn explained that she never wants a student to miss out on a financial aid opportunity if she can help it.

Amador College Connect students like Lopez are eligible to receive Lawhorn’s assistance through the Motherlode Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC). MEOC is operated by Columbia College in Tuolumne County and is funded by a five-year $1.18 million U.S. Department of Education grant. Lawhorn is one of two Transition Specialists there who contribute to our region’s economic growth by assisting any resident in a 5-county region, including Amador and Calaveras counties, with access to ANY college, university, or training program beyond high school.

Lawhorn travels from Tuolumne County bi- weekly to bring her expertise in applying for financial aid to Amador College Connect students. She is familiar with the college financial aid landscape because she traveled it herself through an A.A. in Administration of Justice at a California community college and ultimately to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University where she received her B.A. in Criminal Justice and M.S. in Psychology concentrating on Personnel Administration. Lawhorn explains, “to fund my education I worked full time, sometimes two jobs and completed the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) which granted me access to the Pell Grant and loans.”

Describing herself as a “first generation/low income/orphan/child of a veteran,” Lawhorn recalls that she was “not familiar with the process of applying to college, financial aid or the

various programs that were in place to assist with the process…I had no guidance, so I didn’t even know scholarships were a thing!”

With over sixteen years’ experience helping prepare students for post-secondary education, Lawhorn is available by appointment at Amador College Connect during regular office hours to help students with FAFSA applications and to answer other questions about financing post-secondary education. To make an appointment with Lawhorn to start your FAFSA application, call Amador College Connect at 209-217-8239.

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