What: College Knowledge Lunch Breaks
Where: PEF, 100 E. 10th St., Ruth Holmberg Center for Excellence, third floor
When: Wednesday, noon to 1p.m.
Lunch: $5 buffet or bring your own meal
Wednesday: Financial Aid 101
Feb. 20: Top Ten Financial Planning Mistakes by Parents About College
March 15: How PEF Creates Connections from Kindergarten to College and Beyond for Your Child
April 18: There's a College for Everyone: What Colleges Look for in Students
May 22: How to Support Your Student in College
June 10: STEM and Workforce Development
Operating on the belief that students can never be too prepared for college, PEF will start offering monthly college information programs for parents, teachers and community members.
The monthly noon meetings, dubbed "College Knowledge Lunch Breaks," will bring in experts on financial aid, college entrance and workforce development. This week's inaugural event, set for Wednesday, will help families traverse the complex world of financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Organizers say the events are open to anyone who works with high school or college students.
"We know that one of the most important decisions that students are going to make is to continue on to post-secondary learning," said Stacy Lightfoot, PEF vice president of college and career success. PEF is a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools in Hamilton County and surrounding areas, according to its website.
Lightfoot said the College Knowledge programs are one way PEF is trying to reach out more to community members and parents. And while other resources are offered in schools and communities to help prepare college-bound students, Lightfoot said, "There can never be enough resources to help students on the road to college."
But the meetings won't just address the concerns of those headed to four-year colleges or universities. Even those interested in two-year, vocational or certificate programs will take something away.
"This is about life beyond high school, the tools that you need to get some kind of post-secondary training or learning," Lightfoot said.
Families will walk away with better understanding of the complex world of higher education finances. And they'll have a better idea of how to make lofty college dreams a reality, said Michelle Caldwell, coordinator of PEF's SOAR program, which mentors Chattanooga State students to help them graduate and continue on and graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"I think it will help them better understand the cost of college and to have an understanding that college is affordable," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of resources out there."