Have you completed your FAFSA?
The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is a federal application used to determine federal financial aid including the federal Pell Grant program and federal student loans. Some institutions and foundations also use it for scholarship opportunities that they have. Every student—regardless of income or whether you are pursuing a certified technical education, a two-year associate degree, or a four-year bachelor’s degree—should complete the FAFSA. The student and a parent will need basic family information as well as income information. For the current FAFSA application, the family will need to provide the income from their 2020 tax return. If they can, families should use the IRS data retrieval tool to import their income information to reduce errors in reporting. Students can share their FAFSA information with up to ten schools, so each school can create a financial aid package that will work toward the cost of attendance.
Issues Students Are Facing
A new survey commissioned by the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) found that most Floridians have experienced job loss, pay cuts, or a reduction of hours due to COVID-19, and more than a third believe they’ll need additional training or education to find work at the same pay level.
Yet 42% of Floridians who are currently enrolled in college or a postsecondary training program said they have changed their plans, including taking time off or transferring to another school. This is the case for recent and soon to be high school graduates as well; more than 1 in 4 reported changed plans such as postponing enrollment, attending a school closer to home, or switching to a more affordable option.
A high school diploma is no longer the ticket to the middle class in Florida:
- 50% of recent high school graduates not enrolled in college are working by the fall after graduation, with median annual earnings of $12,000.
- 28% of working-age Floridians have earned a high school diploma as their highest level of education. Their median earnings are $27,522 a year.
- 13% of working-age Floridians have earned some college credit but no degree.
The case for staying in school
The most promising solution we’ve seen yet for leveling the nation’s ballooning income and wealth gaps is first-generation students earning bachelor’s degrees. A college education could be worth an incremental $1,000,000 in lifetime earnings versus a high school education. The average lifetime earnings for a high school diploma is $1.3 million while average earnings for a bachelor’s degree is $2.3 million.
Graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree may not be a perfect indicator of leveling the playing field, but it is the best we have. And for nearly a decade there was progress not just in getting more first-generation students to enroll in college (the easy part) but also ensuring they graduate (the hard part).
Resources to stay on track & local college or university options
If you were originally planning to attend school out of state, consider our local options. The Cross-College Alliance is comprised of five institutions dedicated to higher education and community building along the West Coast of Florida. We are colleges, universities, and campuses with our own distinct identities and offerings that share a common vision: to build a network among the region’s educational organizations that amplifies and expands learning opportunities for our students and the communities that surround us. Many of our local schools have resource guides that list services to help you.
- Academic Advising
- Financial Aid – Scholarships, Loans & Grants
- Parental Support/Resources
- Health Services
- Student Engagement
- Food Banks & Pantries
- Technology Assistance
Examples of the services included are below. To see the more detailed list please click on the link for the specific school. We will also be adding community resources to the list as they become available.
The option for Career and Technical Education
Education Beyond High School is also inclusive of Career and Technical Education. Technical Colleges provide quality technical education to meet workforce development and community needs. A technical education offers learning experiences to help guide the student toward gainful entry-level employment. CTE strives to develop the student’s employability skills and work ethic, to enhance existing employment skills, and to establish learning situations in which the student can experience success in all phases of the learning process.
- Free Platform to help students find and apply for private scholarships, college financial aid and government grants, in one place.
- See what aid is available. MyinTuition provides an online calculator to give students a financial aid estimate based on six simple questions.
- Free college application and financial aid guide to every public school in America.
- Article: Billions in College Aid Hiding in Plain Sight
- My Suncoast Video: PLANit Helping Students’ Pursue College Despite COVID-19 Deterrents