FacebookLinkedInTwitterby Brenda Campbell, President and CEO,
Make A Difference – Wisconsin

At this point in FAFSA season, I have two big questions:

1) Milwaukee high school seniors – have you completed your FAFSA yet?

2) Parents, guardians, friends, co-workers, school volunteers and all those involved in the life of a Milwaukee high school senior – are you helping?

Our organization has joined an effort by Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and Milwaukee Succeeds in recent years in a drive to get all students in Milwaukee to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) paperwork. There are record numbers of students in our community applying for and receiving crucial grants and loans to continue their education. Still, too many students don’t take that first financial step toward education (and opportunity) after high school by submitting the FAFSA forms. In our work as a financial literacy-focused nonprofit, we know students who complete the FAFSA are much better prepared with budgeting and saving for college.

In the nine years I’ve personally helped steer students toward FAFSA resources (that’s me at La Follette H.S. in the picture at left), I’ve seen outside obstacles that prevent students from completing this necessary paperwork. The application can be intimidating. Parents or guardians may not be helpful for a variety of reasons. Some students are going through school amid the challenges of documentation and citizenship. One thing I can say for sure: it’s never lack of desire to go to college that prevents a teen from completing their FAFSA forms.

With that in mind, let’s do our part to encourage and assist seniors as they complete the FAFSA ahead of this year’s deadlines. Here are a few links to workshops and assistance initiatives in some of the areas we serve:

MPS FAFSA sessions in early 2017

• La Follette and Madison Metropolitan School District FAFSA FAQ and resources

• Racine Unified School District senior FAFSA checklist and sessions

• For our new Chicago students at Noble and other schools, a list of Illinois FAFSA workshops

Teens, if you’re reading this and you plan to go to college, make time to complete those FAFSA forms. It will definitely be worth your time! And, for everyone else, let’s make sure we do everything we can to help these seniors start off the next phase of their lives with all of the opportunities in front of them.

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