The guidance counselors at each county public high school faced a challenge: expand the number of students qualifying for student aid.

 

 

The guidance counselors at each county public high school faced a challenge: expand the number of students qualifying for student aid.

Consider challenge met.

The district swept each of three small-county awards in this past year’s Florida FAFSA Challenge, which seeks to increase the proportionm of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Namely, eligibility for Pell Grants.

The district was, in a sense, a triple crown winner.

Among small counties, it has the highest completion rate of FAFSA paperwork; was the Most Improved in terms of number of students completing the paperwork compared to the prior year and also received the “Biggest Boost” award for the biggest increase of FAFSA completion rates in one week.

Winning districts were named in four enrollment categories, from large to small counties.

“It goes without saying that our principals, guidance counselors, teachers and support staff are the front line reason for our success,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “It is certainly an honor.”

The guidance counselors, Karen Turner at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School and Jessica Brock at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School deserve the bulk of the credit, said Lori Price, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction.

“They work very hard,” Price said. “They are above and beyond in getting the students and parents to fill out the paperwork.”

Paperwork that is detailed, complex and tricky and requires verification of household income, a barometer for receiving student aid.

The aim is every graduating senior demonstrating whether he or she is or is not eligible for federal student aid.

“We are working fopr every kid that is eligible to receive a Pell grant,” Price said.

The Florida FAFSA Challenge is a statewide campaign focused on increasing the number of students who complete the paperwork as well as increasing the number of those who may earn a Pell grant.

The campaign encourages schools, districts and communities to set bold and attainable FAFSA completion goals for their students, according to a press release.

In addition to trophies, the district will also receive three complimentary to the 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit next month in Orlando, where the district will be recognized among the winners.

Trophies will be presented at a luncheon during the Summit.

“It’s a positive thing for the district,” Price said.