Students, Pros Take to #FormYourFuture

November 8, 2016

By Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager

Did you know 1.75 percent of people take baths with snakes?

You think that’s striking? Consider the following: Nationally, only 44 percent of high school seniors complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before high school graduation. Yet 85 percent of students have a chance to receive financial aid, and 92 percent of low-income applicants can get grants that never need to be repaid.

Since the FAFSA became available three months earlier on Oct. 1, the National College Access Network has been driving these statistics home through our new national FAFSA completion campaign, Form Your Future. (Well, mainly the latter three stats; the first is from this campaign video by our partner Guava Juice, a college graduate and YouTube star among young people; the video has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.)

The campaign partners with celebrities and social media influencers like Guava Juice with the goal of engaging students and reaching them on channels where they are most active, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. First Lady Michelle Obama lent her support to the campaign, and NCAN is eagerly anticipating releasing another exciting celebrity endorsement this Thursday, Nov. 10.

The campaign website also provides helpful free resources to volunteers and educators who want to provide one-on-one assistance on completing the FAFSA to students and their families, as well as ideas on how to spread the word and get others involved in the effort to encourage millions of students nationwide to apply for financial aid. NCAN encourages all schools and nonprofit organizations that assist or encourage students to complete the FAFSA to use the campaign brand and resources to extend their reach. Likewise, organizations looking to get involved can use the site to get started.

Want to learn more about the resources and how to use them? Check out the Form Your Future webinar recording at NCAN’s website.

In the first month of the campaign, 43 percent of visits to formyourfuture.org included a download of at least one document from the site. We drove nearly 56,500 clicks to FAFSA.gov – including 1,367 from posts shared by NCAN members and partners – and had more than 6.4 million impressions on social media. And the First Lady’s video was viewed more than 213,700 times, and generated more than 36,000 click-throughs to FAFSA.gov.

In 2014, one analysis found that about 1.4 million students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid by not filling out the free online form. Research conducted by NCAN this summer found that many students know neither what financial aid is nor whether they’re eligible for it.

That research helped inform the strategy behind Form Your Future, which is specifically focused on assisting low-income, minority students who would be the first in their family to attend college. They are less likely to apply for financial aid, even though they could benefit from it most. 

Form Your Future builds on decades of FAFSA completion assistance by organizations at the local and state level, including high schools, colleges and universities, college access and success nonprofits, state higher education agencies and state chapters of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). The campaign’s lead funder is The Kresge Foundation, a private foundation with an Education Program that works to promote postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students living in cities in the United States and South Africa. 

To get involved, visit www.formyourfuture.org or contact Allie Ciaramella at allie@collegeaccess.org or 202-347-4848, ext. 210.


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