Kanawha County Schools and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission have been awarded $50,000 from the National College Access Network (NCAN), a nonprofit organization focusing on ensuring equal access to higher education.
Last year, HEPC secured a $55,000 grant from NCAN to fund a “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Challenge” campaign in Kanawha County Schools. The FAFSA Completion Challenge campaign, which was funded by the Kresge Foundation, was a national effort to increase FAFSA completion rates by at least five percent for the class of 2017. Funds were used to provide services to help Kanawha County seniors and their families complete the FAFSA. One innovation the grant funded was the implementation of mobile FAFSA labs on wifi-enabled Kanawha County School buses.
Out of the 22 cities nationwide that competed in the challenge, Kanawha County Schools achieved the second highest FAFSA completion rate. More than 62 percent of Kanawha County’s class of 2017 filed a FAFSA for the 2017-18 academic year.
“We’re proud of the results of the FAFSA Completion Challenge campaign,” said Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the HEPC. “A 62 percent FAFSA completion rate illustrates the dedicated work of our staff in our Student Affairs and Financial Aid divisions. We’re eager to use the knowledge we’ve gained from this project to scale our efforts statewide to help even more college-bound seniors complete this important application.”
Dr. Ron Duerring, superintendent of Kanawha County Schools, stated that this award will be crucial in sustaining efforts to increase the number of seniors who file the FAFSA.
“I join with all involved in Kanawha County Schools’ FAFSA Completion Challenge efforts to thank NCAN for this recognition,” said Dr. Duerring. “Our school leadership, parents and our students executed innovative campaigns and worked very hard to surpass the statewide FAFSA completion goal. We’re proud to be recognized nationally, and this award will help us continue our efforts and support our college- and career-ready initiatives.”
Dr. Adam Green, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the HEPC, attributed the success of the project in Kanawha County to the strong community and school partnerships.
“We’re fortunate to have such enthusiastic partners both in the schools and the community working with us to help families understand the financial aid process,” Dr. Green said. “Nearly 1,600 Kanawha County seniors filed a FAFSA this year, in part due to the efforts of our community partners in increasing financial aid awareness and literacy. These completion numbers simply would not have been possible without the hard work and collaboration throughout the community and schools.”
College and community partners in the FAFSA Completion Challenge campaign include the following:
Students who plan to attend college this spring can complete the 2017-18 FAFSA. Beginning October 1, students who plan to attend college in the 2018-19 school year will be able to file the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. For more information or for 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.