April 4, 2017

A final group of high school seniors and their parents attended the last night of the 2017 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Challenge on March 28 at Buchholz High School.

The Florida College Access Network— represented in Alachua County by the Alachua County Education Compact— issued the Florida FAFSA Challenge statewide in September 2016 with a goal of

boosting the proportion of public high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by at least five percent over the last school year. The challenge was issued locally by the Alachua County Education Compact–which serves as the official chapter for the Florida College Access Network in Alachua County and is staffed by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Santa Fe College Associate Vice President of Economic Development Dug Jones

attended to represent the Compact’s Leadership Council, which he serves as Chair. Two of the six goals of the Alachua County Education Compact focus on ensuring all students are prepared for college and/or career success and have access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers. A metric that contributes to our measurement of our progress in these areas is the “college-going” rate.

“The assistance that will be provided to students and parents tonight directly impacts that measure by removing a financial barrier to college attendance for students who have been accepted to a college or are eligible for acceptance, but are unable to afford to pay tuition,” Jones said.

This event provided a final boost to an extremely successful effort executed by guidance counselors at seven Alachua County Public High Schools. The schools have held multiple FASFA night events since the Florida College Access Network—represented in Alachua County by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce—issued a September 2016 challenge to schools to increase FAFSA completions by five percent. Alachua County’s seven participating schools have exceeded that goal, increasing the number of completed applications by eight percent as of March 10, 2017. FAFSA forms completed after March 10—including those completed at the March 28 event—will further elevate the percentage by which Alachua County schools have exceeded last year’s FAFSA Completion Rate.

Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million each year in Pell Grants. Increasing the number of FAFSA forms completed by Alachua County students is a strong indicator that the number of those students who attend college will also increase.

View the CBS 4 Story here.