Caleb has a plan for his future, and he will not let anything get in his way ­– not even the cost of attending college. So, when he heard about Cash for College, he immediately knew he was going to be in attendance.

Caleb Farina, 18, born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, recently graduated from Gainesville High School. Born to two parents who completed college, he knew college was in the stars for him. Today, he is enrolled in Santa Fe College pursuing an Associate’s degree in Building Construction. He hopes to be a contractor or real estate agent one day. 

Caleb took all the steps necessary to identify his dream occupation. He researched the industry and outlined the requirements for success. He weighed the pros and cons, including macroeconomic risks like the housing market and its trajectory. He even worked to gain experience in the industry. All that was left was to secure the financial resources to make college a reality and that is where Cash for College comes in. 

Cash for College is a campaign that offers resources designed to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) more accessible and guide students and their families through the necessary steps to complete the FAFSA. On July 1st, the Greater Gainesville Chamber’s Alachua County Education Compact (ACEC) launched the six-event-series, in collaboration with Alachua County Public Schools, The Education Foundation of Alachua County, Santa Fe College, University of Florida, LYFEhouse and Dream on Purpose. The ACEC galvanized the Greater Gainesville community specifically to counteract the negative impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment by addressing the decrease in completed FAFSAs among 2020 and 2021 high school graduates. Caleb is one of several students who attended the workshop and leveraged the one-on-one assistance provided by financial aid professionals. 

“Cash for College helped me to make connections with valuable people and understand the importance of saving money,” says Caleb. With the aid of guided instructions and professional assistance, he found the process easy and did not experience any technical difficulties. When asked what he would say to a fellow student who is considering filling out the FAFSA, he said “Go for it. Just take the time and fill it out.” 

For students and/or parents/guardians who need assistance completing the FAFSA, visit to learn of future Cash for College events or connect with local resources.