Herbert Hoover High School and Sissonville High School staff and students were recently recognized for their part in a year-long “FAFSA Completion Challenge” campaign, sponsored by the Higher Education Policy Commission. The Challenge was a countywide effort to increase the number of 12th graders applying for college financial aid. Efforst at HHHS and SHS led to a nine-point increase in the number of Kanawha County seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or “FAFSA."
Herbert Hoover achieved the greatest gain in the number of students completing the FAFSA over the past school year. Sissonville High School was recognized for having developed the most comprehensive and creative strategy to encourage students and families to complete financial aid forms. Each school received $1,000.
Through its College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) outreach initiative, HEPC set a goal of ensuring that at least 60 percent of West Virginia 12th graders completed the FAFSA this year. More than 62 percent of Kanawha County seniors had completed the form by June 30 — up from 54 percent two years ago before the Challenge started.
“We’re very proud of our school leadership, our parents and our students for the hard work that was put into this effort,” said Dr. Duerring. “We want all of our students to understand and be able to prepare for all of the college and career options available to them. Completing the FAFSA is a big step in that process.”
Area principals said the campaign helped them reach those students who need the most help.
“This project has made more students aware of the steps they need to take to pursue an education after high school,” Michael Kelley, principal of Herbert Hoover High School, said. “Oftentimes, the students who need the help the most are the ones who don’t apply. This project has helped raise awareness about financial aid opportunities among those students who are not necessarily knocking on the door of the counseling office.”
“Many of our students face problems at home and other day-to-day struggles that get in the way of completing the FAFSA,” Dr. Melanie White, assistant principal at Sissonville High School, said. “Having that strong push helps us catch those students and make FAFSA completion a priority, which in turn makes students more apt to pursue higher education.”
Dr. Paul Hill, HEPC Chancellor, said FAFSA completion is a strong indicator of whether or not students will enroll in college.
“Ensuring more students complete financial aid applications is one of the most important steps we can take in expanding access to higher education opportunities,” Chancellor Hill said. “Cost is always a major factor in a student’s decision to attend college, and, sadly, research shows that many students who might qualify for financial aid are missing out because they don’t apply.”
Students planning to attend college this fall can still complete the 2017-18 FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. The FAFSA for students entering college during the 2018-19 academic year will be available on October 1. For more information or free help applying for financial aid, students should visit the state’s college-planning website at www.cfwv.com or call HEPC’s financial aid staff at 877-987-7664.
Hoover Award Recipients
Sissonville Award Recipients