College Possible Philadelphia has partnered with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) to help support students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the 2017-18 school year. Through this district-wide FAFSA Completion Challenge, College Possible Philadelphia’s college coaches provide coaching and support to seniors at A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School.
The FAFSA Completion Challenge is part of SDP’s Action Plan 3.0 that 100 percent of students will graduate prepared for either college or a career. The district has worked diligently to increase FAFSA completion rates, a campaign that started during the 2016-17 school year. In October 2017, the National College Access Network (NCAN) released a report on student poverty levels versus FAFSA completion rates. The report projected SDP to have a completion rate of 57.48 percent for the 2016-17 school year; however, SDP was able to achieve a 72.81 percent completion rate because of the district’s effort to form partnerships with thought leaders and financial aid experts in the Greater Philadelphia area, including College Possible Philadelphia.
This is the second year College Possible Philadelphia has assisted in A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School’s FAFSA Completion Challenge. Approximately twice a month, College Possible Philadelphia’s college coaches, led by Program Manager, Bryan DeFoney, offer expertise on the college admission process and applying to college financial aid during sessions held at the school. DeFoney and his teamwork with 20 to 25 students from a targeted list provided by the school’s guidance counselor. “Having College Possible coming to Randolph to help with the FAFSA completion has been a tremendous support,” says Randolph Guidance Counselor Vandrea Sepulvida Ferreira. “Bryan and his team are always very professional and kind.”
Through targeted coaching and support at Parkway Center City Middle College and Murrell Dobbins AVT High School, College Possible Philadelphia has helped increase the percentage of students who apply for financial aid. During the 2016-17 school year, senior high school students who were enrolled in our program achieved a 98.7 percent FAFSA competition rate, and college students in the program had a 92 percent FAFSA renewal rate.
“By assisting in the [District’s] FAFSA challenge, we are able to provide support to students in the district who aren’t in our program and give them advice about next steps,” says Avere Scurry, who serves as a college coach.
Assisting students at Randolph is another part of the organization’s multifaceted plan to help more students complete the FAFSA. Continuing to play an important role in FAFSA completion during the 2017-18 school year, the organization attended a college fair hosted by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in December 2017. At this college fair, college coaches helped students and their families fill out the FAFSA and answer additional questions around the college application process.
“College Possible Philadelphia is proud to partner with the School District of Philadelphia to assist students in completing their FAFSA forms and overcome the financial barriers that often prevent students from attending or graduating from college,” says Executive Director Jen Weikert.
By Ian Reitz