Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

SCCPSS and Partners Awarded Grant to Improve FAFSA Completion Rates

Published on: 10/1/2018

A press conference was held Monday, October 1, 2018 on the front steps of the Board of Education for the City of Savannah to announce that the city has secured a $40,000 grant from the National College Access Network (NCAN), a nonprofit focusing on ensuring equal access to higher education. The grant will fund a project in partnership with the University System of Georgia and the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools (SCCPSS) to increase the number of 12th graders completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The announcement comes on the opening day of the 2019 FAFSA application. 

“We are delighted to receive this grant,” Dawn Cooper, Assistant Vice Chancellor of College Access Initiatives (USG) said. “The application process was very competitive, and I think our award is a testament to the level of innovation and collaboration demonstrated in the proposal our team submitted in partnership with SCCPSS.” 

NCAN awarded grants to organizations from 25 cities as part of their national “FAFSA Completion Challenge,” which aims to increase FAFSA completion rates in urban areas. The project is funded by the Kresge Foundation and the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. The Kresge Foundation is a national nonprofit focusing on improving educational outcomes.

“We know FAFSA completion is strongly associated with postsecondary enrollment, yet every year millions of students who are eligible for aid never complete the FAFSA,” Bill Moses, Kresge’s managing director for education, said. “That’s especially true for low-income students who could use the federal assistance the most.” 

Through its GEAR UP Georgia grant, the University System of Georgia will work with SCCPSS and multiple community partners over the next 10 months to provide services and supports to help 12th graders and their families complete the FAFSA. The project will pilot a number of innovative ideas, including providing community options for families to receive assistance. 

“Completing the FAFSA is a vital part of our school district’s vision of ensuring all students are prepared for productive futures,” says SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett.  “The FAFSA can open doors to a college education for many of our students by providing access to consideration for state and federal grants, as well as being a required component of many scholarship programs. We are excited to engage our students, families, and community in the FAFSA Challenge in partnership with the City of Savannah, Chatham County, and USG/GEARUP.”


 “We are very excited about working with SCCPSS and the other community partners who have signed on board,” Melissa Gattuso, Director of Implementation (USG). “At our community partners meeting, we reviewed the data and trends nationally and specific to Savannah. Research shows that 9 out of 10 seniors that complete the FAFSA enroll in college. As a cross-sectional collaboration, we are eager to continue improving our practices to help more Georgia students enter and succeed in college."

Additional partners in the project include: 

·         The City of Savannah

·         Chatham County Commission

·         Georgia Student Finance Commission

·         Georgia Technical College System

·         Savannah State University

·         Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus

·         Savannah Technical College

·         Georgia Association of Student Financial Aid

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