Welcome to the FSA Partner Spotlight! Our partners are using innovative programs, creative events, and effective initiatives to help facilitate financial aid awareness, increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) completion, and assist borrowers with repayment. We are excited to showcase and celebrate the best practices of our partners.
This page is not an endorsement of any particular district, school, or organization, but simply a space to share the outreach efforts of various entities. If you are interested in being featured in the FSA Partner Spotlight, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for older Spotlight features? Visit our 2017 Spotlight Archive.
Lela FAFSA Completion & College Access–Louisiana
Lela FAFSA Completion & College Access provides free FAFSA completion and college access resources to all Louisiana residents to ensure success on their path to and through college. Lela specialists coordinate and conduct FAFSA completion events at high schools, provide one-on-one support at Lela's College Planning Center, and offer FAFSA assistance over the phone through their FAFSA helpline, 1-844-GOFAFSA. Lela uses @AskLela on social media to share scholarships, deadlines, and tips, and to repost Federal Student Aid content. Lela also creates custom publications for students and parents. The FAFSA Completion & College Planning Guide, which is distributed to 50,000 high school seniors, and The Parent's Guide to Planning and Paying include a planning calendar, FAFSA & FSA ID tips, and other information to support students and parents through the financial aid and college application process. School counselors can order these publications and access other downloadable electronic resources in the counselor section of Lela's site.
In order to increase student incentive to complete the FAFSA form, Lela launched a FAFSA Completion Scholarship campaign last year. The scholarship is a random monthly drawing for students who have submitted the FAFSA form and registered with Lela online. It is a $1,000 one-time award given to 10 students once they provide their FAFSA confirmation page and verification of enrollment in college.
In addition to addressing student incentive, Lela also noted parent participation as a barrier to FAFSA completion. By collecting students' contact information on a custom student profile card or online through scholarship registration, Lela specialists can easily follow up with students and contact parents to walk them through the FAFSA form line by line. Lela is a member of the Louisiana Department of Education's Financial Aid Working Group and partner in NCAN's FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant for Baton Rouge.
Students in the Southeastern Louisiana University Upward Bound Program at FAFSA Day.
Students completing the FAFSA® form at Springfield High School in Springfield, Louisiana.
Federal Student Aid offers free publications on preparing for college or career school, applying for aid, and more. Find out how to order FSA publications to distribute in schools or at financial aid events.
Brink is a group of 25 Tulsa high school students, associated with the Cohort 9 branch of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, who partnered with ImpactTulsa to increase postsecondary enrollment and FAFSA completion rates. Brink identified the challenges students face in the FAFSA process and recommended that high schools create a steering committee of counselors, teachers, administrators, and student leaders to increase awareness of the FAFSA form.
Brink wanted to create a college-going culture in high schools by engaging all constituents in the school district and creating a collaborative effort. In order to support students and the schools' steering committees, Brink produced a resource for each group. They created the FAFSA Playbook, a step-by-step explanation of the FAFSA form for students, and a detailed FAFSA curriculum for the steering committees. In the FAFSA Playbook and curriculum, there are links to Federal Student Aid resources such as videos on creating an FSA ID and filling out the FAFSA form. As a part of the curriculum, Brink includes best practices for hosting FAFSA nights, sample text messages and announcements ready to send to students and parents, information on how to track data through surveys, and more.
Brink held a summit for representatives from various school districts, with a representative from Federal Student Aid in attendance, to promote the use of the curriculum, provide guidance for implementation, and facilitate FAFSA completion in high schools. Brink is a unique initiative because it was created by students who can directly relate to and best articulate the needs of their peers through the FAFSA process. Because the FAFSA Playbook and the curriculum were created from the student voice, an advisory board of students within ImpactTulsa will continue to maintain the sustainability of Brink after its current members graduate in order to maintain the peer perspective.
The cover page of Brink's FAFSA Playbook for students.
A group picture of Brink members.
If you need to start at the beginning and learn what the FAFSA form is, or if you're already somewhat familiar with it but want the full details of the process laid out for you, refer to Parts 2 and 3 of the Counselors and Mentors Handbook on Federal Student Aid. The handbook is a comprehensive counselor-focused resource for information about federal student aid and the FAFSA process.
Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS)–Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is a public school district with 24 high schools that serve more than 30,000 students in grades 9–12. During the 2016–17 school year, the Office of School Counseling implemented the FAFSA Frenzy program. Each high school counseling department in the district received a launch kit that included morning announcements, email scripts, and flyers to promote FAFSA awareness. The kit also contained training materials and a link to a Federal Student Aid webinar so counselors could be further informed of the process and host completion events for students and parents.
Before the FAFSA Frenzy events, some counselors emailed the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to parents in advance so they would know exactly what information to bring with them to complete the FAFSA form with the student. At the events, counselors provided individual support with FAFSA completion and general financial aid information. A few schools partnered with the Community College of Baltimore County to discuss financial aid from the institutional perspective. Additionally, BCPS provided a hotline for counselors to call with any questions while working with families on the FAFSA form.
BCPS tailored their FAFSA Frenzy events to the needs of their specific school populations and integrated the necessary departments to best support their students through the process. The district offers AVID courses, ESOL counselors, and transition specialists to provide support to first-generation students, ESOL students, and special education students as well as Pupil Personnel Work services for homeless students and students in foster care applying to college and seeking financial aid. The FAFSA Frenzy initiatives held at each BCPS high school resulted in a 5 percent increase in FAFSA completion during the 2016–17 school year.
FAFSA Frenzy event at BCPS high school.
Counselors working with students to complete the FAFSA® form.
Webinars are one of the many resources Federal Student Aid offers to provide information on a variety of topics. Go to the Search Financial Aid Tools and Resources page and select Webinars and Audio Files in the search tool to find archived webinars on a variety of topics.
Sign Up to Receive FSA Partner Emails
We consider school counselors, college access organization staff, and other mentors to be our partners in educating students about applying for and receiving federal student aid to help make their college dreams a reality. Several times a year, we email our partners with updates about our products and services, reminders about upcoming professional development opportunities, tips for outreach to students, and more. We highly encourage you to sign up to receive our partner emails.
Note: The emails we send are intended to keep counselors and mentors up to date; they do not contain information for students or parents. Please send students and parents to StudentAid.gov for information about federal student aid.
Please feel free to share the FSA partner email sign-up page with your colleagues and community partners in the field.