Ed Trust–NY releases updated toolkit for high schools to help students access financial aid for college, launches the 2023 New York FAFSA Completion Challenge to highlight successes

by | Oct 6, 2022 | Press Release

NEW YORK – As high schools across New York look to help students access financial aid for college, The Education Trust–New York and education organizations across the state are releasing the latest Financial Aid for College: High School Toolkit to support high schools in helping all students complete financial aid applications.

The Financial Aid for College: High School Toolkit reflects changes made this year to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and highlights 10 evidence-based strategies schools can use to help students with financial aid application completion, tips for tracking progress, and materials in English and Spanish that can be used to communicate with students and families.

This year’s graduating seniors have spent all of their high school years learning during a global pandemic, forcing them to navigate shifts from remote learning to hybrid to in-person instruction. Helping students access financial aid for college is one crucial way to support the Class of 2023 in their postsecondary transitions.

The resources – created in partnership with the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), New York State Council of School Superintendents, the Options Center at Goddard Riverside, Hispanic Federation, New York Immigration Coalition, New York State Association for College Admission Counseling, and New York State School Counselors Association – include:

  • Monthly checklists for schools on activities to support students in financial aid application completion;
  • How-to guides for hosting financial aid completion nights – remote or in person, scheduling office hours, and using class time to help students complete financial aid forms;
  • Sample lesson plans for using class time to complete financial aid forms;
  • Sample social media posts, newsletter items, and correspondence with families in English and Spanish;
  • Tips on how to use data to track progress;
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about financial aid completion.

“High schools can play a crucial role in supporting students in accessing financial aid to help pay for college,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “The Class of 2023 has navigated so many transitions during the ongoing pandemic, and it is imperative that we do not allow the many barriers that have been exacerbated the pandemic to not stand in the way of all New York students having the opportunity to realize the dream of a higher education.”

The toolkit is part of The New York Financial Aid for College Completion Project, which also includes:

  • An interactive FAFSA completion tracker data tool that allows the public to track the progress of each New York high school, with new FAFSA completion estimates updated weekly starting in early 2023 and comparisons to similar schools and top performers.
  • The fifth-annual FAFSA Completion Challenge, which will recognize schools for high FAFSA completion rates and for improvements in FAFSA completion rates. Twelve awards will be granted to schools across the state. Each award will consist of $750 granted to the winning high schools for the purpose of providing a scholarship to one of its students.

“HESC is proud to continue our partnership with The Education Trust–New York on the latest release of the toolkit,” said Dr. Guillermo Linares, president of the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. “Teachers, counselors, and school administrators are critical in the development of our student’s growth and in their success, especially for those students who may not have the support at home to help them stay on track, graduate, and pursue a college degree. We must continue to arm our educators with the resources, strategies, and tools that help support their efforts and enable them to guide students on their path to a higher education.”

“Schools are in the business of hope — setting young people on a path to happiness and success in adult life,” said Charles Dedrick, executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “For many, pursuing higher education is part of that path but cost is an obstacle. We thank The Education Trust–New York for its leadership in helping more students to take advantage of all the financial resources available to support their learning.”

“We are happy to partner once again with The Education Trust–New York on this crucial resource to help schools better support some of our most vulnerable students — our students experiencing homelessness or living in foster care and those who are undocumented — in completing the FAFSA and other state financial aid applications,” said Andrea Ortiz, senior manager of education policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. “Now more than ever, schools need comprehensive plans to help students and their families complete financial aid applications regardless of their immigration status. In addition to assistance on how to support students to successfully apply for the NYS DREAM Act and all state financial aid applications, this toolkit gives best practices around collaborating with community-based organizations to ensure college access initiatives are culturally responsive.”

“For many Latino students, affordability is the deciding factor in assessing whether to pursue a postsecondary education,” said Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of Hispanic Federation. “This toolkit empowers counselors and other school personnel in helping students navigate the sometimes confusing process of completing their FAFSA and other state aid applications. Resources like this Financial Aid for College: High School Toolkit work to ensure that schools have clear, step by step guidance and direction to help students apply for federal and state aid to realize their dreams of obtaining a higher education. Financial burdens persist in communities of color; it is crucial that we continue to support college access and affordability as it continues to serve as a key to economic mobility for many students and their families. We’re proud to partner with the Education Trust NY to provide this valuable resource.”

“The New York State School Counselors Association is pleased to support The Education Trust–New York in its work on The New York Financial Aid for College Completion Project,” said Bob Rotunda, executive director of the New York State School Counselors Association. “It is well established that FAFSA completion leads to better outcomes in college applications, admissions, and completions. This toolkit is an invaluable resource to school counselors, who are deeply involved in this process.”

“It’s that time of year again – the FAFSA is open,” said Deborah Fuller, director of training at Goddard Riverside Options Institute. “I am delighted to give a shout out to The Education Trust–New York’s Financial Aid Toolkit. Between the month-by-month checklists, eligibility flow chart, FAFSA facts, and Frequently Asked Questions there is so much valuable information at the counselor’s fingertips. This toolkit is indispensable.”