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College applications for UC, CSU systems due this month

(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Toni Atkins' monthly e-newsletter.)

College is almost universally recognized as the ticket to a better life. A college degree means greater opportunity and choices. The knowledge and skills you gain can be used for the rest of your life. And education pays! Males between 24 and 34 years old can earn 54% more with a college degree than they can with only a high school diploma. Females in the same age group can earn 88% more. And a college degree helps you understand and adapt to the fast changing world around us.

Getting into college can seem like a daunting process. Following is information to help you navigate it all.

Applications are due at the end of November for students who hope to attend either the University of California – UCSD in our area – or the California State University -- locally SDSU or Cal State San Marcos -- next Fall. The websites linked below contain all of the information you need for filling out and submitting those applications. Along with the application form, students must also arrange to have their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or ACT scores sent to the school admissions office. Information on how to do that is also included on these sites below. If your student is not quite ready to apply this month, these sites will also tell you about upcoming opportunities to apply.

University of California

CSU Mentor

Many families believe that they cannot afford a college education, so they don't even bother to have their child apply. However, the State of California is committed to assisting every qualified California student finance his or her education. The Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship Programs are designed to help students meet the costs of attending one of California's public universities. These financial aid programs have a March deadline, but it is best to apply right after the first of the year in order to ensure proper processing of your application.