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Arizona Receives Grant to Amplify State-Level FAFSA Completion Resources and Assistance

Author: Julie Sainz, AZ FAFSA Challenge Project Director, Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education

May 26, 2021

 

Arizona was recently awarded a $50,000 grant by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) to amplify state-level Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion resources and assistance to the high school graduating class of 2020 and 2021. Amid the economic, health and other impacts caused by the pandemic, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds are experiencing the largest declines in FAFSA completion and postsecondary enrollment. To combat these challenging times, Arizona’s FAFSA Coalition which consists of postsecondary and community partners from across the state have dedicated their efforts to this grant to ensure that Arizona students are not missing out on opportunities to fund their postsecondary education.

Due to this generous grant, the Arizona FAFSA coalition was able to create and implement a statewide FAFSA assistance resource that allows the class of 2020, and class of 2021 to schedule a FREE virtual appointment with a FAFSA expert to assist them with completing the FAFSA. By visiting the following website AZFAFSA.org, Arizona students are able to schedule an appointment with an English or Spanish speaking FAFSA expert that will assist them with completing the FAFSA.

In order to promote this new statewide resource, Arizona’s FAFSA Coalition created a robust marketing campaign that includes strategic outreach that promotes this resource on various social media platforms to students statewide, specifically targeting areas within the state with low FAFSA completion rates. In addition, a communications toolkit equipped with social media content, fliers (both in English and Spanish) as well as internal and external communication content for high schools to share with their students and families has been created.

In addition, Ask-Benji, Arizona’s FAFSA chatbot will be assisting with these efforts by reaching out to its database of students who have an “incomplete” or “no FAFSA” on file. Ask Benji will launch a texting campaign to this student population by sending them a text with information on how they can utilize this new FAFSA resource by scheduling an appointment with a FAFSA expert at AZFAFSA.org. Being able to leverage Ask Benji on this grant has provided an added level of support that Arizona students can benefit from in assisting them with the FAFSA process. 

The AZFAFSA.org site and one-on-one FAFSA assistance launched in early May and since then they have had over 100 students schedule an appointment. With the support of this grant, Arizona students will have access to a FREE and convenient FAFSA resources available to them throughout the summer. In addition, the efforts of this grant will also bring Arizona closer to its 52% state FAFSA completion goal and combat the negative effects of summer melt that has stunted FAFSA completion rate growth in year’s past. 

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