Sarasota County is leading the state in FAFSA completion this year, with eight of the fifteen Florida FAFSA Challenge awards going to the Sarasota school district and schools.

This stellar performance is no coincidence and is possible in large part thanks to the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership’s local college access network, in which community business and civic leaders have partnered with schools and districts to make FAFSA completion a priority. Steve Queior, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce (which serves as the backbone entity for Talent4Tomorrow), reported that over twenty groups came together to improve the community’s FAFSA performance.

Sarasota County, which has nearly 3,000 12th graders, increased FAFSA completion by 4.3% since March 31st of last year and has the highest percentage of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, with a completion rate of 36.4%.

Back in late 2015, the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership conducted a community scan to determine barriers to postsecondary education and training and identified access to financial aid as a major obstacle to college access.

Mimi Cirbusova, Talent4Tomorrow Coordinator, noted that the partnership’s many FAFSA completion strategies included FAFSA completion events such as the event at North Port High School in February, which raised the school’s FAFSA completion rate by nearly 9% in just one week.

The success of the partnership is an example of how a local college access network can help ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve a higher education. Florida CAN congratulates all of the Sarasota partners who made this great result possible.

Florida CAN will be reporting more on the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership’s collaborative efforts to raise FAFSA completion in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


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