School counselors Jessica Brock of Port St. Joe High School, left, and Karen Turner of Wewahitchka High School show off Gulf District Schools’ Florida FAFSA Challenge trophies.

Following the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, prizes were awarded to the schools and districts that had the highest FAFSA completion rate (“MVP”), the greatest year-to-year increase (“Most Improved), and best week-to-week improvement during the campaign (“Biggest Boost”).

Gulf District Schools was the only challenge participant to sweep all three categories and earn the FAFSA Challenge Triple Crown!

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

Lori Price, Gulf’s Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, singled out the district’s guidance counselors — Jessica Brock at Port St. Joe High School, and Karen Turner at Wewahitchka High School — for the county’s FAFSA Challenge success.

“They work very hard…they are above and beyond in getting the students and parents to fill out the paperwork,” Price told the Port St. Joe Star. “It’s a positive thing for the district.”

Gulf District Schools garnered its top honors among small school districts (fewer than 1,000 12th graders). The county’s 47.2% FAFSA completion rate (67 out of 142 12th graders) earned MVP honors, while its 15% improvement from last year narrowly resulted in the Most Improved award over Jefferson County School District (14.9%). Finally, Gulf also earned “Biggest Boost” after improving FAFSA completion by 13.4% during the week of Oct. 8-14.

The Florida FAFSA Challenge aims to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA completion in Gulf during this year’s campaign resulted in an estimated $40,316 in additional Pell Grant dollars awarded to seniors in the county, which is located in the state’s panhandle.

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


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