She gets the word out

Élida Miranda-Zaragoza is like a traveling salesman. But what she has is coveted information -- and there's no need to buy it.

She visits high schools in Modesto, Patterson, Hughson and Waterford, among others, spreading the word and answering questions about financial aid for college-bound students.

Though she's an outreach recruiter at Modesto Junior College, her aim is to help anyone planning on attending college anywhere.

"A lot of people don't know where to start," she said. "So I try to guide them."

Most families are overwhelmed by the financial aid puzzle, but they know they must apply to help students pay for tuition, school supplies and living expenses.

The first step in the financial aid process is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, arguably an intimidating piece of paperwork for many families.