College OPTIONS recently sponsored a competition between local high schools in order to encourage graduating seniors to complete and submit a financial aid application, either a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Application (CA Dream App). This contest, known as the FAFSA Frenzy, aimed to increase awareness regarding the financial aid application process and to increase the number of seniors from our service area who submit a free financial aid application.
Overall, 17 high schools registered to compete in the competition. The financial aid season begins on January 1st of each year. In order to qualify for a Cal Grant, students must have their FAFSA or CA Dream App completed and submitted by March 2nd. During that time students have the opportunity to receive assistance completing the form from various agencies including high school counselors, College OPTIONS staff, local Cash for College events hosted by high schools, and financial aid staff at local colleges.
The registered schools were divided into categories based on their senior enrollment. The winning schools were:
Small School Division (less than 50 seniors)
Etna High School, 86.4%
Medium School Division (50 to 150 seniors)
Trinity High School, 82.1%
Large School Division (more than 150 seniors)
Corning High School, 70.1%
Each of the winning schools will receive a cash award to be used at their discretion for the benefit of their senior class.
It is exciting to consider the significant impact completing a FAFSA or CA Dream App can have on the futures of our students. Of the 1277 students who submitted a financial aid application at local high schools this year, 716 qualified for a Cal Grant. Assuming that the â€œaverageâ€ Cal Grant award is worth approximately $5000 per year (the actual amount depends on whether a student attends a community college, CSU, UC, or in-state private school), this process secured over $3.5 million dollars for North State students in their freshman year of college alone. Many of these students will also qualify for other need-based state and federal aid. This financial aid assists students in continuing their education while keeping familiesâ€™ dollars in our North State communities.
Although the deadline for entitlement Cal Grants has passed, College OPTIONS staff would like to emphasize that students who have yet to fill out a FAFSA or CA Dream App still can and should do so if they will be attending college during the 2014-2015 school year in order to be considered for other federal and state grant and loan programs.