REDDING, Calif. - High school students from around the Northstate flocked to Simpson University for College Options' 18th annual College Quest.
College Options is a free, privately funded local resource for students, operating out of Redding for 14 years.
"We have advisors all over the Northstate," said Lianne Richelieu, CEO and mother of high a school senior. She added that the college culture in the Northstate has grown dramatically in the past decade.
Thursday night's 2017 College Quest brought more than 60 post-secondary educational institutions to Simpson's gymnasium.
Some students attended with their parents. Others attended with friends.
One group of first-generation students from Oroville High School walked around the gym together, collecting pamphlets.
Senior Alexander Cuevas-Rivera said although being the first in his family to apply to college has its challenges, his parents are incredibly proud.
"They're supportive and really grateful for me to go see another pathway instead of...just going straight into the work force," he said.
Shasta High School senior Ashley McLean and her mom Debbie Lupeika stopped at UC Berkeley's table first.
McLean said both of her parents attended Berkeley.
"So, they've helped a little bit, but I mean, stuff has changed since when they went there," McLean said. "It's kind of fun to do it myself."
McLean is the first of her parent's children to go to college.
"I remember when she was a baby," Lupeika said. "So it's hard to believe that my baby's going to go to college now."
Lupeika is dealing with a stressful process. "It's stressful in the sense that I, as the parent, I've got to figure out how to pay for it."
Parents who shared that sentiment gained peace of mind at College Quest's financial aid seminar, where they learned more about the FAFSA process.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In years past, the FAFSA has been open to students at the start of the calendar year, but starting this year filing opens three months early on October 1.
"People as high as $150,000 a year get financial aid, so we want to spread the word that everybody should apply regardless of if you think you're eligible or not," Richelieu said.
For seniors who haven't yet begun applying, it's not too late.
"Applications for the CSU's and UC's are all due in November, by November 30," Richelieu said. "It doesn't mean it's too late to start them or turn them in. Now is the time to get with your high school counselor or College Options advisor and really got those applications done.
College Options is located on Market Street in Redding. For more information, click here.