The National College Access Network (NCAN) recently featured Get2College (G2C) in its blog, highlighting the G2C’s new effort to scale its efforts by partnering with community colleges to increase FAFSA completions statewide. The full text of the blog post is posted below or can be viewed on NCAN’s blog here.
By Courtney Argenti, Graduate Policy Intern
NCAN member Get2College is Mississippi’s recognized expert resource for college admission and financial aid advice. Its small team of 18 people covers a lot of ground — and it’s about to cover more: Get2College recently partnered with community colleges to increase FAFSA completions statewide. The end goal for this collaboration is to have the institutions creating and implementing their own FAFSA completion efforts, while Get2College provides support.
In Mississippi, a community college truly lives up to its name: a college within and for the community. Many Mississippi students attend a community college at some point in their postsecondary career. Similarly, a large majority of postsecondary students in Mississippi stay in the state for their studies. “We have a saying about that here in Mississippi,” explained Kiersten Knaus, Get2College Assistant Director and College Advisor. “It’s that Mississippi mud that sticks to everybody.”
That Mississippi mud is a driving force for increasing statewide FAFSA completions: There are two state grants and one statewide scholarship that Mississippi students are eligible for if they complete the FAFSA.
“We partnered with people who we knew had a stake in getting FAFSAs completed for their students,” Knaus said. “We thought about what already exists in Mississippi that serves the entire state. That [community college network] already exists. We just want to build on that.”
Get2College met with the Mississippi Department of Education, the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), and the Mississippi Community College Board to talk strategy for increasing FAFSA completion. Over two years, the plan is to shift Get2College’s role from leading all FAFSA completion initiatives to playing a supportive role for six of the 15 community colleges.
“Our approach to FAFSA completion is different than others’ … We do counselor professional development on the front end by educating counselors on handling effective FAFSA days,” Knaus explained.
Get2College provides training to counselors, volunteers, and other college access stakeholders on completing the FAFSA. “It’s not just going line by line and completing the FAFSA [in the trainings],” Knaus continued. “We debunk myths. We discuss important questions, like whose information you use on which part of the FAFSA.”
By providing this training, Get2College hopes to hand over the reins for the six community colleges’ FAFSA completion efforts. The institutions will design and implement and their own FAFSA completion events and FAFSA awareness campaigns, while Get2College will provide the support and serve as a link between high schools and community colleges.
NCAN applauds this collaboration and strategic model for FAFSA completion: It is efficient, it is empowering for communities and community colleges, and if successful, it will serve as a FAFSA completion model for the other seven community colleges in Mississippi.
Published June 2, 2017.