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Phoenix Center Guides Quest for College Cash

December 28, 2009

PHOENIX - Students and parents who may feel intimidated by the process and paperwork of making college applications now have a place to find help. It's called the College Depot, located inside Burton Barr Library, central Phoenix. Depot director Judy Reno says 90 percent of their work involves applications for financial aid and scholarships.

"We're really keeping busy with helping people fill out those financial aid forms, because they can seem so daunting if you've never done them before. It's like doing your taxes."

The College Depot is free and available to everyone. It's open seven days a week during library hours. Reno says the goal of College Depot is to encourage more Arizona students to attend college.

Reno says College Depot fills a need created by the state's shortage of high school counselors. Arizona ranks next-to-last in the country for 25-year-olds with four-year degrees, and Reno believes the counselor shortfall is a factor.

"The American School Board Association recommends a student/counselor ratio of 250 students to one counselor, and in Arizona the average is more than 700 students per one counselor."

In the six months College Depot has been open, it has served nearly 2,000 students, Reno says, and the concept is resonating in other parts of the state.

"If you live in Tucson, there's a similar college access program there, and they're building one in Flagstaff right now in the new YMCA."

The City of Phoenix provides the physical space for College Depot in the main library. Operating expenses are covered by grants from numerous charities, including the Helios Foundation and the Piper Trust.

More information is available at www.phoenix.gov.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ