NCAN to Lead College Goal Sunday

February 27, 2015
Planned Enhancements Will Help More Students Complete FAFSA

By Bob Murray (USA Funds) and Elizabeth Morgan (NCAN)

The National College Access Network and USA Funds® announce that NCAN will assume leadership of College Goal Sunday®, a nationwide program that helps college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the form necessary to qualify for many student aid programs to pay college expenses. NCAN will take ownership of and national administrative responsibility for the program from USA Funds, effective June 30, 2015.

“We look forward to building on the nearly three decades of College Goal Sunday success as a volunteer mobilization strategy to reach more of the millions of individuals who fail to file a FAFSA each year and therefore forgo college entirely or eventually drop out because of financial hardship,” said Kim Cook, NCAN executive director. “We appreciate USA Funds’ exceptional stewardship of the program during the past three years, as well as the wealth of information USA Funds has shared with NCAN to help us shape the program for the future.” 

“USA Funds has been pleased to serve as national College Goal Sunday administrator for the past three years and as a major funder of the program for many years previous, to ensure low-income and first-generation students have the financial resources to pursue their college dreams,” said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. “Based on our three years’ experience with College Goal Sunday and our tests of other FAFSA-completion initiatives, we have concluded that NCAN is best positioned to take this program to the next level of support to meet the evolving needs for FAFSA completion assistance.”

College Goal Sunday events, conducted during the first few months of each year, bring together financial aid professionals and other volunteers who help students and parents complete the FAFSA, the application used to determine student eligibility for key federal aid programs, as well as for many state-sponsored and college-specific student aid programs. College Goal Sunday events during 2015 are expected to help an estimated 30,000 students and parents in 34 states complete and file the FAFSA. 

NCAN plans to convene and support a national steering committee during 2015 to design a strategic plan for College Goal Sunday, culminating in a new national FAFSA completion campaign for 2017. The steering committee will include representatives of national nonprofit organizations; higher education, state and federal agencies; the business and philanthropic sectors; and representatives of existing state College Goal Sunday programs.  The steering committee will consider the broad universe of FAFSA completion assistance and information, as well as the range of target individuals who should complete FAFSA. 

The committee may consider strategies such as:

  • A rebranded national awareness campaign and tools that could be used flexibly with many types of state and local FAFSA completion efforts and would save partners time and resources in raising awareness and executing activities.
  • Revised target FAFSA completion metrics that would focus on state and school district outcomes, rather than on individual College Goal Sunday events.
  • Enhanced volunteer deployment activities, such as collaboration with school districts, online training, virtual assistance, and corporate partnerships.

To promote best practices in FAFSA completion and engage more partners, NCAN will also increase its related professional development programming through conference workshops, webinars, toolkits, and best practice reports.

Since 2002, USA Funds has provided approximately $4.5 million in support to College Goal Sunday. In addition, USA Funds has committed more than $500,000 to NCAN to ensure a smooth transition of College Goal Sunday in 2016. College Goal Sunday began in Indiana in 1989 as a joint project of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association and the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Back to Blog

Leave a Reply:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License