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School counselors at Leonardo da Vinci High School in Buffalo start the FAFSA completion process with a financial aid night in early November.

Financial aid counselors from D’Youville College are on hand to assist students and parents with the process. Throughout the school year, a graduate student from the University at Buffalo was also available once a week — on “FAFSA Fridays” — to assist students at the school.

Staff members kept a steady drumbeat with “gentle reminders,” such as morning announcements, classroom visits, phone calls to parents and guardians, and one-on-one appointments with guidance counselors.

Shahed, who will receive the FAFSA Challenge scholarship, has a GPA of a 96.8 and is ranked 7th in his graduating class. He applied to and was accepted at more than five colleges all across New York State, and Shahed decided to attend the University at Buffalo, where he plans to major in physics. He hopes to then go on to medical school and become a primary physician.

During his time at da Vinci he was on the soccer and environmental science teams and participated in the chess club. Shaheed lives with his parents and an older sister and is a first-generation college student.

The school won the Challenge for having the highest completion rate among high schools with less than 100 seniors in the Big 4 school districts.

The Challenge was part of The New York FAFSA Completion Project, a statewide campaign launched by Ed Trust–NY to encourage public high schools to increase the proportion of eligible low-income students who complete the FAFSA.

Explore data for each high school in the state, read more about FAFSA completion strategies being used at New York schools, and find additional resources at NYFAFSAChallenge.org.