Why FAFSA & Why Now
When I learned how low a percentage of our high school seniors actually complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application, knowing that FAFSA is critical for our young, especially first generation students, being successful at enrolling and completing college, I was convinced that this was an urgent priority for Milwaukee Succeeds to tackle. We’ve invited Jonathan Dunn, manager of our post-secondary success work, to provide you with the evidence of why FAFSA completion is important and what you can do to help us achieve our goals.
I urge that you really step forward in whatever way you can to accept his challenge at the end of the blog. We all can do something to help our young people be successful and this year is a special time to join the team.
Take it away Jonathan!
See you soon,
Hello Milwaukee Succeeds and Danae!
Every year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study, and loans) for college or career school. And yet too few of our seniors apply for this aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application not only gives students access to the federal aid, but also it also connects students to state and institutional aid; and in the end, this aid allows students and families to find a better path toward college affordability and earning a degree.
Despite the importance, there are many barriers that imped greater FAFSA completion within our city, including the following: people either a) aren’t aware of it, b) don’t understand its importance, or c) perceive the process to be too difficult or intrusive.
Why FAFSA & Why Now?
The FAFSA is necessary to qualify for federal, state and institutional aid.
Students are more likely to enroll in postsecondary if they complete the FAFSA.
Students are more likely to attend full-time if aid is received; and therefore, they are more likely to complete a degree if full-time.
Students who file early (in October & November this year) receive on average more than twice the funding from federal, state and college sources as those who file later in the year.
And, there are two significant changes to the FAFSA Process in the Fall of 2016 that will make it easier for families to fill out.
The community goal for the Class of 2017 is to increase FAFSA completion amongst all enrolled MPS seniors by 20 percentage points, from the benchmark in June of 2015, to 59 percent. We will also support some choice and charter schools outside of MPS to include seniors from across the three K-12 educational ecosystems: public, charter, and choice.
Getting It Done: The Strategy
From the collective experience of our members, our strategy focuses on removing the above barriers and embedding FAFSA completion into school culture through a three-pronged approach: support advocacy by the school level leadership, facilitate targeted professional development for the community of staff that interact with seniors, and build excitement around the initiative.
Will You Accept the Challenge?
We challenge each individual to help support by sharing this information with your networks. We need your help spreading the word so you and your organization can advocate and help move this effort forward.
Goal 3 Manager, Milwaukee Succeeds