ALABAMA (June 1, 2022) –Today close to 150 attendees celebrated high school educators for their commitment to supporting students on their journey to postsecondary pathways at the Virtual Alabama Goes to College Celebration Day from 10:00 – 11:45 a.m.
Alabama Possible supports educators year-round and concludes the academic year with a virtual state-wide celebration. Alabama Possible, in collaboration with the Alabama State Department of Education, manages the Alabama Goes to College Campaign. The three components of this campaign include: Cash for College, Alabama College Application Week, and College and Career Decision Day. This Campaign equips educators, counselors and career coaches with tools and connects them to partners so that every student can plan for, pursue, and complete valuable postsecondary credentials. Alabama Goes to College provides resources for students and families to explore college options, find financial aid resources, and successfully transition from high school to college.
The Alabama Goes to College Celebration Day event opened with words of welcome from Mr. Ron Houston, board chair for Alabama Possible followed by words of congratulations from Mr. Nick Moore, Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation policy advisor. Dr. Eric G. Mackey, state superintendent of Alabama State Department of Education was the keynote speaker. Dr. Mackey passionately referred to the counselors/career coaches across the state as “givers of hope”. Presentations of winning strategies were shared by the winners of the Cash for College awards from Alabama Possible and the winner of School of Excellence award provided by the American College Application Campaign.
Since kicking off the 2021-2022 campaign, Cash for College and its partners have worked alongside 48,616 students and their families at over 361 schools to complete more than 28,300 FAFSAs (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This equates to an estimated 69.3 million dollars of Pell Grant aid that was leveraged.
Participating high schools tracked their FAFSA completion and yearly improvement in hopes of receiving the Cash for College Most Improved and MVP Awards. Each winning school will receive a monetary grant to further a college-going culture in their high schools.
The high schools with the highest FAFSA completion rates for their senior classes as of April 29, 2022, are:
Small: Geneva County High School (Geneva County), 98.15 percent completion
Medium: Ramsay High School (Jefferson County), 96.00 percent completion
Large: Hartselle High School (Morgan County), 84.00 percent completion
The small, medium, and large high schools with the most improved FAFSA completion rate from October 1, 2022, to April 29, 2022, compared to the same time frame last school year are:
Small: Barbour County High School (Barbour County), 647.50 percent improvement
Medium: Woodlawn High School (Jefferson County), 195.59 percent improvement
Large: Decatur High School (Morgan County), 100.63 percent improvement
School of Excellence award was presented by Lisa King of American College Application Campaign at ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning to:
Andalusia High School (Covington County)
Dr. Mackey attributed Alabama’s national FAFSA rankings of being 7th in the nation in FAFSA completion as a result of “the work of counselors and career coaches, teachers and administrators supporting them in helping students understand the opportunities out there to get money to go to school”.
“I’ve personally witnessed the change and difference high school counselors make in the lives of children,” said Dr. Mackey. “It was my high school counselor who guided me through the [college-going] process.” He goes on to say “It is the work that you [counselors] are doing in pushing out hope and giving children the opportunity to be successful in life.”
Any student seeking federal or state financial aid – including grants, loans, and work-study programs – must complete the FAFSA. Most students in Alabama will qualify for Pell Grant aid of up to $6,495 per year. Students can use Pell Grants for two-year and four-year technical and academic programs.
Students and families can still complete financial aid forms and college applications. They can learn more about the college enrollment process by visiting alabamagoestocollege.org and get assistance, if needed, by calling or texting the Alabama Goes to College Help Desk at 334.316.6155.
It’s inspiring to see Alabama rank first in the nation in year-over-year FAFSA completion,” said Chandra Scott, Alabama Possible’s executive director. “[Educators] work tirelessly and give so much of themselves without many people knowing it. It’s not a job of praise; it’s not a job of show. It’s work of the heart.”