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BELL GARDENS : City Loans to Help Defray College Fees

March 31, 1994

A city-sponsored student loan program should make the dream of higher education more attainable to dozens of students annually while building community stability and pride, officials said.

Beginning in April, city residents can apply for no-interest loans through the city's Academic Pursuit Program to help defray the cost of tuition, books, room and board, transportation and other educational expenses.

The program, using the interest created by $3 million in city reserves, will fund thousands of dollars in loans in exchange for community service work, said Karen Nobrega, assistant city manager. About $120,000 in loans should be available in the first year of the program, she said.

In Bell Gardens, where the per capita income is about $5,000, the program could mean the difference between a college education and a high school diploma, said Mike Padilla, a counselor at Bell Gardens High School. It will also give students the opportunity to attend private and out-of-state schools, he said.

To be eligible for the program, students must also have a 2.5 grade-point average, a good attendance record and proof of acceptance at an accredited four-year or junior college. The deadline for applications is May 12.

Information: (310) 806-7700.

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