Cash for College FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion workshops typically take place during the school day school computer labs or classrooms with laptops. At workshops, students can complete their online FAFSA application and ask questions about financial aid. Volunteers are a vital part of this effort as they encourage and guide students through the application during the workshops.
Trinity United Methodist Church Volunteer Kristan Walker said that the Cash for College “is an easy way for an adult to provide support and encouragement to students. I think the FAFSA is such a concrete way to help a student who has the potential to access the next level of education.”
Cash for College workshops will be held in communities and schools throughout March and April to assist students with filing and completing their FAFSA. According to a NerdWallet report, high school seniors left $2.7 billion of free money on the table by not completing their FAFSAs in the 2014-2015 academic year. In Alabama, high school graduates missed out on an average of over $3,000 in Pell Grants.
Alabama Possible’s Cash for College program facilitated 25 FAFSA completion workshops at 10 high schools in February to help students meet the March 1 priority deadline. Cash for College currently provides this direct service to all Birmingham City Schools and schools that participate in Alabama Possible’s Blueprints College Access Initiative. 125 volunteers from local businesses, churches, and civic organizations were recruited and trained to assist students.
The FAFSA is so important that the U.S. Department of Education reports that 9 out of 10 students who complete a FAFSA attend college the following fall. The FAFSA qualifies students for state and federal grants, including the Pell Grant of up to $5,815 annually. This money can influence college options for students, especially low-income, minority, and first-generation college going students, who are the least likely to know about financial aid.
“I’m excited about filling out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is helping me be able to go to college,” said Wenonah High School Senior Bresha Andrews.
“It helps take the pressure off me to work through college,” said Wenonah High School senior Destiny Hicks, who filed her FAFSA at a Cash for College workshop. “The FAFSA will help me and my parents with finances for College.”