FAFSA and Jump Start for Financial Aid and College Access

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At Future Ready Collier, we talk a lot about the importance of consecutive milestones in education. For example, helping students thrive in early learning increases the likelihood of academic and personal success later in school. A strong indicator of high school achievement is the percentage of graduating seniors who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which connects students to financial aid for degrees and credentials to reach their career goals. The Future Ready Collier collective impact network works to make sure students are aware of financial aid opportunities, including the Jump Start scholarships offered through Champions For Learning.

FAFSA Facts and Figures

The FAFSA is the first step towards securing financial support for formal education beyond high school. But, for different reasons, many students don’t finish the application. In fact, according to the Florida College Access Network, which tracks education data across the state, only 31.5% of eligible Florida students have presently completed their FAFSA. In Collier County, 32.5% of the over 3300 12th graders have successfully submitted their application. It is important to note that incomplete applications will not be processed. One of the ways Future Ready Collier partners try to help students is ensuring that their FAFSA applications are correct and complete when submitted. Applications that are incomplete when submitted may also be edited and then will be considered.

Get Help to Apply On Time

Each school year, FAFSA applications open on October 1. While applications may be submitted even after the end of that particular school year, students are strongly encouraged to do so as early as possible. This is for good reason. Applicants in the fall or winter have access to more scholarship money than students who wait until the spring or summer. It also gives students more time to work with the school they wish to attend the following year, to confirm financial details and be assured they are ready to go on the first day of classes. However, students who are unable to finish their FAFSA earlier in the year should still submit. The benefits of financial aid are that important.

Local organizations and Future Ready Collier members including Champions For Learning, Grace Place for Children and Families, Guadalupe Center, and The Immokalee Foundation are dedicated to helping students with hands-on support to follow their education and career goals after high school. Usually, formal events dedicated to helping students and their families with their FAFSA applications take place in the fall. Importantly, though, students and families should always feel welcome to ask for assistance with the application. It can seem complicated, and help is available.

Jump Start Scholarship

A big effort is underway through Champions For Learning to connect graduating high school students with a one-year state college Florida Prepaid College Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship covers 30 credit hours at the state college tuition rate. Students may use the scholarship at any Florida technical program, state college, or state university. In addition, participating students benefit from three virtual workshops about topics like financial aid, life skills, and career options.

Champions For Learning is calling this program Jump Start because these scholarships for the 2022-2023 school year help jump start post-secondary education for 27% of Collier County Public School 12th graders. Students and families can sign up by clicking on this website link to receive more information about Jump Start, including a notification when the application opens. One of the eligibility requirements for Jump Start is to complete the 2022-23 FAFSA. Champions For Learning shares free, virtual resources on their website, which can be accessed at any time, for help with the FAFSA and FSA ID. The FAFSA tutorial is available in English and with Spanish subtitles.

How Can We Help

Future Ready Collier understands that every student’s path after high school is their own. The greatest value of FAFSA and financial aid is choice. Having financial aid gives a person the choice to continue on in school, to earn the credentials they need to have a successful career without the heavy burden of borrowed money, or the feeling that they don’t have a choice at all. The network welcomes questions from students and families about how to access financial aid, and from community and individual partners who may wish to support. Any questions may be sent to info@futurereadycollier.org.





Written by Caroline Ridgway of C1B1 Communications.