Affordability is one of the biggest barriers for students to achieve an education beyond high school. Students have difficulty funding their academic careers without accumulating debt in the process. That is why the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the best ways to make college more affordable. Each year, Florida students leave over $300 million on the table by not completing the FAFSA – that is money they would have qualified for from Pell Grants.
The Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) offers a data-sharing agreement that assists with increasing FAFSA completions throughout the state. With this, schools can access student-level FAFSA completion information, allowing counselors to reach out to students who may need extra support.
Anthony Cook, Coordinator of College and Career Counseling at Osceola County School District, saw the direct impact the data-sharing agreement had when helping students.
“Without the data-sharing agreement, we would be shooting in the dark to determine which students have submitted an error-free FAFSA. The data-sharing agreement allows us to see which students are completely done, which students may have errors, and which students have not even begun the process of potentially accessing free money. This lets us have targeted interventions to provide each group with what they need to complete the FAFSA,” said Cook.
Charleita Richardson, Executive Director at Florida College Access Network, believes we must utilize all the necessary tools at our disposal to aid students in the college-going process.
“Establishing a data-sharing agreement allows our schools to identify students who otherwise may fall through the cracks as they prepare for life after high school. We encourage each school district to sign the data-sharing agreement and help Florida students maximize their potential through education,” said Richardson.
Florida College Access Network would like to recognize the following school districts that have requested the data-sharing agreement to support students with the financial aid process:
How do you request a data sharing agreement for your school district?
Contact Pedro Hernandez, OSFA Director of Outreach Services, for an application. Provide names of the current: school district superintendent, chair of the school board, and district legal counsel. Once the data sharing agreement is provided, the signatures of those individuals will be needed.
Submit the signed electronic copy to Pedro Hernandez. Mail the hard copy within 30 days of submitting the electronic copy to:
Office of Student Financial Assistance
325 W. Gaines Street, Suite 944
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Florida College Access Network encourages school districts to request an application so all schools can help students receive funds for their academic journey.