Camden Education Fund, with a mission to sustain and accelerate progress in Camden’s public school system, has announced a new initiative: to encourage all high school seniors to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which colleges use to determine financial aid for incoming students. Hence, the “FASFA Challenge,” which sets up a competition among all area high schools, district, charter, and renaissance.. The school with the highest FASFA completion rate will win $25,000 when the contest concludes in May.
“The vast majority of jobs of today and tomorrow require an education beyond a high school diploma,” said Giana Campbell, executive director of Camden Education Fund. “Every student deserves a path to a quality, affordable postsecondary education, and completing the FAFSA helps students access critical financial aid to complete their credential or degree.”
“The FAFSA Challenge serves as a powerful reminder that we can improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps when we work together in new ways to help all students thrive,” said Camden City Mayor Victor Carstarphen.
Undocumented students who complete the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application (HESAA) will also be included in the completion rates for their school.
One role model for students is Saniyah Harris, a senior at Mastery High School, who explained at a press conference last week that financial aid will allow her to get the college education she wants without making all of the costs her direct responsibility. “For most students, like myself,” she explained, “financial aid is essential to making college affordable. Financial aid can help students stay in school, graduate, and graduate on time, especially those from low-income backgrounds.”
The winning school will have full discretion over how to spend the $25,000, as long as the choice benefits high school seniors. To follow the competition see CEF’s FAFSA Tracker, which notes “If students don’t complete the FAFSA, they miss out on thousands of dollars of grants and scholarships. Let’s change that!”
As of today, 37% of Camden high school seniors have completed their FAFSA forms.