New Campaign to Help Students Get Money for College

September 30, 2016

The National College Access Network (NCAN) today launched a new national campaign to encourage high school seniors to apply for financial aid to pursue higher education.

Nearly all students would receive money for college, if they applied for it. The “Form Your Future” campaign urges young people to claim what is theirs and achieve their educational dreams by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Nationally, only 45 percent of high school seniors complete the form before high school graduation. 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 shows that many students do not understand what financial aid is or mistakenly believe they are ineligible for it. Almost all students who apply receive aid, which may include grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs.

The Form Your Future campaign 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.

U.S. Department of Education data show that nearly all students (92 percent) with a household income of less than $50,000 who applied for federal student aid received a Pell Grant, worth up to $5,815 in 2016–17, which unlike a loan, does not need to be repaid.

“We want all students to take the first step toward postsecondary education by filling out the FAFSA, available on October 1,” NCAN’s Executive Director Kim Cook said. “Their award might affect their decision to attend college and, ultimately, change the course of their career. Just fill it out so you better understand your options.”

The campaign partners with celebrities and social media influencers with the goal of engaging students and reaching them on channels where they are most active. 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.

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 or contact Allie Ciaramella at or 202-347-4848, ext. 210.

About NCAN: NCAN’s mission is to build, strengthen and empower communities committed to college access and success so that all students, especially those underrepresented in postsecondary education, can achieve their educational dreams.

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