Students at Curry, Oakman recognized for FAFSA completion

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/12/18

Two Walker County schools are being recognized for an increasing number of seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to seek a postsecondary education.

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Students at Curry, Oakman recognized for FAFSA completion

Posted

Two Walker County schools are being recognized for an increasing number of seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to seek a postsecondary education.

Alabama Possible, a statewide nonprofit that removes barriers to prosperity, announced this week that Curry High and Oakman High schools have received the organization’s first-presented Best Hustle Award for increasing FAFSA completion by at least 10 percent from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1, 2017.

The schools are currently participating in Alabama Possible’s Cash for College program, which encourages students to apply for financial aid to attend college. By completing the FAFSA, students have an opportunity to receive grants, loans and work-study opportunities.

Curry High School Principal Rod Aaron said he credits the school’s college scholarship specialist Deb White in helping to encourage students to seek financial aid opportunities for postsecondary education.

“She has multiple dates and times to have parents come to the school, and she sends parents information on a regular basis to keep them informed,” Aaron said. “Bevill State (Community College) also works very closely with our school to provide personnel to help with the process. Mrs. White is never satisfied with just getting by and works many hours and through many obstacles to help our students gain an advantage. It is always rewarding to have someone at your school recognized for going above and beyond the expectations that have been set forth.”

Patrick Gann, Oakman High School’s principal, said encouraging students to explore resources available to them has been key to increasing FAFSA completion at the school. “Our counselor, Dana Gray, and faculty work extra hard to encourage students and parents to take advantage of these opportunities,” Gann said. “Most of the time, it’s spending time with the seniors and their parent to help them apply and educating them on the various opportunities that are available. This can range from traditional four-year opportunities or technical related fields.”

The Cash for College program is offered at more than 300 schools in Alabama, which has resulted in close to 10,000 FAFSA applications being submitted from those schools. The Daily Mountain Eagle announced in December that Cordova High School graduate Sara Bright, with Cash for College, will be training Walker College Foundation scholars to work with students in county schools to complete the FAFSA.

The scholars, who are enrolled at Bevill State, are set to begin working with high school seniors in the coming weeks.

“We’ll work with students and families to help them complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s completely free, and we do this because nine out of 10 kids who complete the financial aid application go to school,” Bright told the Eagle. “Also, because of the work we’ve been doing, Alabama is ranked ninth most improved for FAFSA completion in 2016-17.”

Executive Director of Alabama Possible Kristina Scott said, “High school seniors need to complete the form as early as possible so they can access the money they need for college. We are thrilled to see so many Cash for College schools promoting early FAFSA completion, and we congratulate them for earning a Best Hustle Award.”

For more information about the FAFSA, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.