Collier County is home to eight high schools with thousands of seniors eager to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and excited to hear back on college acceptances. There are many community resources in Collier County, including Champions For Learning that offer FAFSA assistance, but that is not the case for other communities.
Recently, the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations received a rural county grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help bring support and assistance through peer-matching, to help this issue.
Through this grant, Glades County became the receiving rural county and Champions For Learning was partnered as the peer match through the Consortium to offer support.
Together, Champions For Learning and Glades Education Foundation hosted a FAFSA completion event where Jessica Manchette, Champions For Learning’s Chief Programs Officer, went to Moore Haven Middle-High School to assist the senior class.
“When it came to light that Glades wanted to focus specifically on helping their students get their FAFSA completed, that is something that is close to both the mission of Champions For Learning as an organization and to me personally,” shared Jessica. “We don’t limit our resources to just the students we serve here in Collier County. Our best practice is that we share opportunities and resources openly and widely at no cost to students and families as well as our community partners across the state.”
Glades County is home to one high school with less than one hundred seniors enrolled. With more than half of seniors in attendance, 30 completed their FAFSA and plan to pursue higher education this fall. Champions For Learning is proud to support neighboring communities with these events, this is an amazing accomplishment.
Manchette shared just how tailored this event was towards Glades County. “We walked the student’s question-by-question to fill out the FAFSA. The Education Foundation of Glades County also helped to provide translators because we had many parents that did not speak English.”
“After completing the FAFSA, students and families can instantly see what Pell grant they qualify for. Students of high-economic need have a higher chance of qualifying for needs-based opportunites, like the Federal Pell grant,” said Manchette.
More than half of the students at Moore Haven Middle-High School demonstrate economic need and qualify for a needs-based grant. Completing the FAFSA is very important for these seniors and is one of the first steps in them reaching their post-secondary and career goals.
Manchette shared, “The biggest barrier for many families is the cost of what college truly is. If we can remove that cost prohibitive barrier – whether that means getting a student to a technical college, a state college, or even a state university, we’re enabling them to get that certification. That degree will help them earn a very solid living wage, right here in our community.”
“It’s life changing for these families, especially in these rural areas. These kids do not have as many opportunities. Being able to bring this opportunity to them — to get a solid education and really pursue a meaningful career – is so incredibly rewarding.”
This FAFSA completion event has gifted Glades counselors, with knowledge that they will now be able to share with the countless seniors that will graduate from Moore Haven in future years.
Champions For Learning is proud to be a supporter for education and to fulfill our vision to offer a community one-hundred percent engaged in support of student success. Champions For Learning is determined to be a catalyst for change, to reach all high school seniors and offer assistance so students can complete the FAFSA with as much assistance as needed.
The FAFSA can be a difficult application to complete, especially for students completing it for the first time. As the Education Foundation in Collier County, Champions For Learning serves as a community to inform, assist, and celebrate students and their achievements in preparing them for college and career success.
Are you a student that needs assistance in completing your FAFSA? Visit our website for step-by-step instructions on how to complete the FAFSA.