Denton ISD receives grant to boost FAFSA participation

Denton ISD is one of eight school districts in Texas, and 25 across the country, to receive up to $40,000 each for the 2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant, according to a district news release.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) is a form that is prepared by prospective and current college students to determine their eligibility for student financial assistance.

The project, funded by The Kresge Foundation and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, National College Access Network challenges each of the grant recipients to increase their FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percent for the Class of 2019, according to the news release. The higher number of students that complete their FAFSA, the larger the grant the participating district will receive.

“Texas has traditionally fallen below the national average for FAFSA completion rates, and Denton ISD would like to change that by developing a strategic plan to increase the number of students who are completing the application,” said Amy Lawrence, Director of Counseling Services. “Doing so will have positive implications for our students, families and community members since there is a direct correlation between FAFSA completion and enrollment in post high school education institutions.”

Research shows completion of the FAFSA may help predict a student’s success in postsecondary education, according to DISD. Ninety percent of high school seniors who complete FAFSA attend college directly after high school, compared to just 55 percent of FAFSA non-completers.

To boost participation, the district plans to:

  • Provide FAFSA information nights at each of the high school campuses in conjunction with Open House
  • Provide FAFSA completion nights where parents and students can get one-on-one assistance
  • Invite the mobile TWU “Go Center” to the College and Career Expo on Saturday, Oct. 20 to provide one-on-one help with completing the FAFSA
  • Create a Denton ISD FAFSA website with additional information and helpful links, located here.
  • Design an advertising campaign regarding the importance of the FAFSA and dispelling myths
  • Enter names of students who complete the FAFSA into a drawing for prizes

“The 2016-17 Challenge demonstrated that cities could achieve significant progress in just one school year by working collaboratively across sectors to give students the FAFSA completion support they need,” said Caroline Altman Smith, Kresge’s deputy director for its education program. “This is a high-leverage investment for philanthropy because the FAFSA enables students to tap into huge amounts of government resources that often go unclaimed.”

NCAN will award a $100,000 grand prize in September 2019 at its national conference in Indianapolis to one organization based on a review of the percentage growth in completions, adoption of effective strategies, barriers overcome, and likelihood of sustainability.

“Great Lakes is pleased to join our Kresge colleagues in supporting the FAFSA Completion Challenge because of the opportunity to spread evidence-based strategies for FAFSA completion to more communities,” Amy Kerwin, Great Lakes vice president for community investments, said. “Successful cities are learning to use data to target the right support to the right students at the right time. We want to help even more school districts understand how to help all their seniors complete this vital step to entering postsecondary education.”

More information is available here.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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