Written by StepUp Utah Paying for College Expert, Katie Wornek – September 17, 2018
Every year, StepUp rewards counseling teams who go above and beyond to help seniors complete the FAFSA and secure the financial aid they need to pay for college. The 2018 winners were officially recognized at last week’s Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) Counselor Conference.
Winners: Ben Lomond High School ($750 professional development grant, FAFSA Cup trophy, and lunch with the StepUp Utah team.
Runners-Up: Pine View High School (FAFSA Cup runner-up trophy)
Here are some of the FAFSA initiatives, intervention strategies, and best practices the winners highlighted in their applications:
Ben Lomond High School’s Initiatives for Increasing FAFSA Completion:
- Held 6 FAFSA Completion Events (inducing 2 Spanish-speaking events) on various times and days of the week (including Saturday) to accommodate working parents
- Utilized multiple mediums – including postcards, social media, automated phone dialer and PeachJar electronic distribution – to promote FAFSA completion events
- Set a data project goal to increase FAFSA completion by 10% among English Language Learners
- Periodically announced the number of pending FAFSA applications in assemblies and morning announcements throughout the year and showcased FAFSA completers in office window
- Worked one-on-one with students and their college’s financial aid offices to clarify FAFSA verification requirements
Pine View High School’s Initiatives for Increasing FAFSA Completion:
- Taught multiple sessions on pertaining to FAFSA and financial aid in financial literacy classes, including using the game “Payback” that simulates financial decisions students have to make in college
- Set a goal to increase school-wide FAFSA completion by 25%
- Set up one-on-one meetings with students who have not filed the FAFSA or who need to complete verification
- Celebrate FAFSA completers at Decision Day Assembly in May
If your counseling team is interested in applying for the FAFSA Cup, please submit an application by April 15, 2019. Although the application is available the day the FAFSA opens (October 1), we recommend waiting until Spring so you can include as many examples, stories, and experiences from your school year as possible.
If you have questions about the FAFSA Cup or other FAFSA programming and resources, email firstname.lastname@example.org.