March 9, 2018
Polk County Public Schools is seeing gains in the number of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the form that determines students’ eligibility for financial aid.
“By completing the FAFSA, our students and families can actually see the funding that will be available for them to attend college. This can change their perspective, their attitude, and their reality of attending college,” said Laquieria Nottage, senior coordinator of 6-12 school counseling services.
Polk County Public Schools has provided additional training to its school counselors and college and career coordinators so that they can better assist students with the FAFSA. Polk County Public Schools has also partnered with local colleges and universities, and Polk Vision to increase FAFSA completions, an initiative called Local College Access Lead.
The school district’s efforts are paying off, according to data from the Florida College Access Network’s Florida FAFSA Challenge, a statewide campaign that aims to increase the proportion of Florida high school seniors who complete the FAFSA.
Polk County Public Schools is the most improved school district in the state for FAFSA completions, according to data released by the Florida FAFSA Challenge in late February, with a FAFSA completion rate of 31.5 percent, up 1.6 percent from March 2017.
Additional results released by the Florida FAFSA Challenge show:
- George Jenkins High School was the third most improved large school in the state, with a FAFSA completion rate of 35.1 percent, a 5.6 percent increase from March 2017 to February 2018. “Large schools” are those with more than 416 12th graders.
- Mulberry High School was the sixth most improved medium school in the state, with a FAFSA completion rate of 34.1 percent, up 11.4 percent between March 2017 and February 2018.
- Lake Gibson High School was the seventh most improved medium school in the state, with a completion rate of 37.7 percent, up 9.1 percent between March 2017 and February 2018. “Medium schools” have between 166 and 415 12th graders.
“Data presented by the Florida College Access Network has shown that completion of the FAFSA has been the strongest predictor for Florida students going to college. Some students and families may immediately dismiss the idea of attending college, simply due to their lack of financial resources,” Nottage said.
“As school counselors, we recognize how critical it is for our students and families to understand the financial process and receive the necessary assistance for completing the FAFSA application.”