FAFSA first!, a FutureMakers Coalition campaign aimed at informing Southwest Florida high school seniors and their parents about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is launching a social media contest challenging high school students to share why #IFiledFAFSAfirst.
To be eligible to enter the contest, the student must be graduating spring 2017 from a high school in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry or Lee County. To enter the contest, the participant must create a unique post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tag five friends and FAFSA first!, and use the hashtag #IFiledFAFSAfirst.
All entries must be submitted by Friday, March 17. Five winners, one from each county, will be chosen to receive $500 toward college or career school expenses. Winners will be notified in late March. For more information and contest entry rules visit, www.FAFSAfirst.org/contest.
“We want to harness teenagers’ social media savvy to spread news and information about FAFSA as far and wide as possible throughout our region,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which serves as the backbone organization for the FutureMakers Coalition. “As of Feb. 3, Southwest Florida’s FAFSA completion rate is at 27.6 percent, which is a great start. We have further to go to achieve our campaign goal of 40 percent this school year.”
Research shows FAFSA completion rates correlate with the percentage of workforce who hold degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials. The FutureMakers Coalition partners throughout the region are working to educate high school seniors and their parents about FAFSA and why it is important to file.
Each year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study and loans) for college and career school. To apply for this aid, every high school senior who plans to attend college or career school must complete the FAFSA. State governments and many colleges, career schools and private organizations also use FAFSA information to determine additional financial aid awards.
The federal deadline for filing FAFSA is June 30, 2017. Florida’s state deadline is May 15, 2017, for the date by which FAFSA needs to be processed. Colleges and universities also have varying priority and filing deadlines.
New for the 2017-18 application, FAFSA became available Oct. 1, 2016 and allows applicants to use their 2015 income tax returns. Previously, FAFSA was not available until Jan. 1 for filing and it required income tax information for the most recent tax year, even though that often meant students’ and parents’ actual tax returns hadn’t yet been filed with the IRS. By filing FAFSA earlier and using accurate income tax information that is already available, students and parents will benefit by receiving financial aid award offers from schools sooner and can make informed decisions about college or career school affordability.
Visit www.FAFSAfirst.org to learn more about the campaign, and for information and resources about FAFSA.
About the FutureMakers Coalition
Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by 2025. The Coalition is committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners. In 2016, Southwest Florida was one of 75 metropolitan areas selected as part of Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment to increase post-secondary attainment nationwide by increasing the number of working age adults with degrees and certifications.