On February 11th, North Port High, with broad community support, hosted 75 families at a FAFSA completion event that resulted in an 8.8 percent increase in FAFSA completions in just one week. Florida CAN applauds the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, which recently launched a local college access network as a strand of its broader cradle-to-career initiative, for working with North Port High School to make these great results possible for the students of this school.

The event, which utilized radio, print media, United Way’s 2-1-1 services, and repeated calls to students’ families to promote the event, resulted in an impressive 48 completed FAFSAs.

Because of the event, North Port High was able to raise its FAFSA completion rate to an overall 21.7 percent so far this year. As of February 12th, according to the Florida FAFSA Challenge Leaderboard, North Port High ranks number one to date for most improved FAFSA completion rate, and closest to a 5 percent increase for large schools in Florida. The number of FAFSAs completed during the week of their event was 16 more than any other school in Florida during the same time frame.

Mimi Cirbusova, Coordinator for Talent4Tomorrow, attributes the success of the event to the collective impact of all community players involved.

The event was made possible thanks to the support of United Way Suncoast and Education Foundation of Sarasota County as well as school staff, volunteers from the community and UnidosNow, financial aid officers from local colleges and universities, and a representative from Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Assistance (OFSA) Outreach Team.

“It’s focusing on the partnership, swimming in the same direction” that creates this sort of result, said Cirbusova.

Not only is North Port High making significant strides in FAFSA completion, but so is the Sarasota school district as a whole, thanks to the support of the LCAN. As of February 12, Sarasota County has the highest FAFSA completion rate in the state to date this year, at 21.8 percent.

This is a critical time for students completing the FAFSA.  The earlier in the year students complete the financial aid form, the greater their chances of qualifying for aid at their college of choice, in addition to the federal financial assistance they may receive.

Want to see your school or district’s FAFSA completion rate?  Check out the Florida FAFSA Finish Line data dashboard to view FAFSA completion data through February 12 now!  And remember, it’s not too late to take the Florida FAFSA Challenge and commit to boosting the FAFSA completion rate at your school or district.

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