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. Each month, we will showcase and celebrate the best practices of our partners who serve specific demographic communities.
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 complete the FSA Partner Spotlight Interest Form. Learn about our monthly partner spotlight and how your organization may be considered for a feature.
Looking for older Spotlight features? Visit our Spotlight Archive.
Fostering Success Michigan
Fostering Success Michigan (FSM) is a statewide initiative focused on increasing postsecondary access and success for youth with experience in foster care. The initiative provides resources, networking opportunities, and support for students who have experience in foster care and the professionals that serve them. The aim is to build a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career pipeline for this population. The continuous efforts to build support on college campuses, within local communities, and statewide increases access opportunity and advances equity for this resilient population. Visit Fostering Success Michigan's website for more information.
What are the FAFSA® completion goals and accomplishments of FSM?
FSM has developed two important financial aid toolkits about FAFSA completion and financial resource access for students and professionals that outline resources available in Michigan for students with experience in foster care. FSM partnered with Michigan Student Aid to identify over 60 financial aid champions on campuses across the state that can provide on-site support by helping students complete forms, access scholarships, understand tuition and financial aid, and answer questions.
What tools, resources, and/or collaborations contribute to FSM's success?
FSM Network participants include students with experience in foster care, higher education professionals, child welfare professionals, community organizations, supportive adults, philanthropic support, and the business community. FSM has strong partnerships with over 30 campuses across the state providing points of contact and programming support for youth with experience in foster care. FSM also collaborates with Michigan Student Aid, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Education, and numerous nonprofit and advocacy organizations.
What challenges do the TISLA community face in financial aid awareness and FAFSA® completion?
Students with experience in foster care face numerous obstacles related to college access and success. FSM works to ensure that youth in foster care in Michigan know there are resources available to help them pay for and persist in college. FSM links students with those resources. Additionally, FSM provides information about best practices in working with these students and resources available to professionals across the state.
John Burton Advocates for Youth
John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) works statewide to improve the quality of life for California's most vulnerable youth and young adults including foster and homeless youth. JBAY works to achieve its mission through a combination of technical assistance and training, advocacy, and direct support to youth. JBAY's education work has been conducted through the California College Pathways project. Since 2012, JBAY has served as the project manager for this cross-system effort to increase the rates of college enrollment, persistence, and completion for current and former foster youth. JBAY's approach incorporates activities designed to realize improvements to both policy and practice across multiple systems including California's K-12 system, three public post-secondary institutions and state and county child welfare bodies. Visit JBAY's website for more information.
What are the FAFSA® completion goals and accomplishments of JBAY?
In partnership with the California Department of Education's Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSCP) and the California Community College Chancellor's Office, JBAY has sponsored the CA Foster Youth FAFSA Challenge for the past four years to increase the number of foster youth who are set up for success as they matriculate from high school into college by ensuring that foster youth are accessing financial aid. Foster youth have the lowest rates of college success of any student subgroup and are often most likely to fall through the cracks of broader FAFSA completion efforts. Over the first three years that JBAY sponsored the CA Foster Youth FAFSA Challenge, FAFSA completion rates for foster youth has increased among the students they serve.
What tools, resources, and/or collaborations contribute to JBAY's success?
Efforts are led by county-based FYSCPs in collaboration with local partners including school districts, community-based organizations, child welfare agencies, independent living programs, and local colleges. FYSCPs utilize the state's WebGrants system to track which students have successfully completed a FAFSA form. JBAY provides technical assistance, promotional materials, and other resources to participating counties to support them in this effort. Counties "taking the challenge" are recognized and celebrated throughout the campaign and participating counties have the opportunity to win awards for their exceptional completion rates. JBAY has developed a Financial Aid Guide targeted specifically to foster youth, FAFSA completion posters, and stickers that are distributed across the state. JBAY has also worked closely with the California Student Aid Commission to develop tools to streamline the ability of foster youth programs to monitor FAFSA completion.
What challenges do JBAY community face in financial aid awareness and FAFSA® completion?
Foster youth must contend with the aftermath of trauma, high rates of school mobility, and the absence of family to provide support with college matriculation. These factors combine to create educational attainment rates that are far below those of other students. Foster youth often are not provided the necessary support, guidance, and encouragement to go to college and may receive negative messages from those around them regarding their capacity to be successful in higher education. For the current year, the impact of the pandemic on foster youth has been severe and JBAY is redoubling their efforts to ensure that these students have the opportunity to access financial aid and pursue their education goals.
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.
Search for tools and resources to help you or your students learn about financial aid for college. You can even filter resources by audience type and search resources specifically for Spanish speakers.