Planning is a critical first step in implementing a FAFSA completion initiative. Some of the things to consider during the planning process are:
Who should be involved. Ensuring students complete the FAFSA is a communitywide effort. Think through which partners, sectors, and individuals must be informed and on board to make this effort successful. Things to consider include:
Who has access to and has the ears of students and parents? Who controls resources you need to be successful?
Composition and structure of the planning committee. Often it is helpful to break down the work into component parts and develop committees to carry it out. For example, you can establish committees focused on topics such as communication,
training, data access and use, and FAFSA completion events. How will these committees function in a coordinated fashion? Who will lead/manage/govern these committees?
Creating, implementing, and monitoring a plan. Engaging partners in the development of the plan will increase the likelihood of success. A helpful plan articulates goals, objectives, an action plan, outcomes with success measures, required
resources, a timeline, and the person(s) responsible.
Partner roles and responsibilities. Depending on the partner, it will likely make sense that there are specific roles for specific partners. It is helpful to clearly define which partners will do what and how each will be accountable for their
Champions and leadership buy-in. It is extremely helpful to have support at the leadership level of partner organizations. For example, if a principal makes FAFSA completion a priority, it's more likely that resources will be allocated to make
this happen. This can mean human, time, and/or financial resources. Champions can help keep this work top of mind in a community and ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to FAFSA completion efforts. Champions can be cultivated or
will emerge naturally and often hold leadership positions in a community.
FAFSA Completion Initiative Self- Assessment and Planning Templates
Identifying Potential Partners and How/Why to Engage Them
There are some "usual suspects" who should be engaged in FAFSA completion efforts including students, parents/families, school staff, community-based college attainment organizations, and higher ed institutions. But it's often helpful to think beyond
these usual suspect to other partners that play an important role in the lives of your students and families. Some of factors to consider when thinking about these less-common partners include:
Are there places where your parents and families congregate?
Which individuals and institutions are considered to be trusted sources of information by students and families?
Some of these partners include:
The faith community. Places of worship can host FAFSA completion events. But perhaps more importantly, they are trusted sources of information. Engaging local faith leaders in your efforts might be very effective.
Students. Students listen to their peers and know how to craft and disseminate messages that will resonate with one another.
The business community. Businesses can offer incentives, computer labs, and access to parents. They have an economic interest in ensuring the community is cultivating an educated workforce with the skills they'll need in the future.
Local elected officials. Mayors, council members, school board members, etc., often have the ear of the public and the media. Consider enlisting their help in raising awareness about the importance of postsecondary education and completing
You can also meet students where they are: shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries, civic organizations, etc.