FCAN Executive Director Charleita M. Richardson

FCAN Executive Director Charleita M. Richardson.

SARASOTA — A new program hopes to help college students — and their families — by promoting Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion.

Florida College Access Network launched the Cash for College campaign across Florida with new partners as part of the effort.

In a news release, FCAN said 4 out of 5 Florida college students use financial aid to help pay for their education — and FAFSA helps that process.

“The campaign aims to counteract the impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment and is a compliment to FCAN’s Florida FAFSA Challenge,” it said in a news release. “Nationwide, direct enrollment after high school graduation was down 6.9% in Fall 2020, and enrollment declines were 2.3 times steeper for low- income high schools compared to higher-income schools. Research also shows that low-income, first generation-, and students of color are among the least likely to complete the FAFSA.”

It suggests those who complete the FAFSA are more likely to enroll in college and get their degree, it said.

“The FAFSA is a strong indicator of students enrolling in and attending college, which ultimately leads to greater career outcomes for them and a stronger economy for the state yet only 37.1% of high school seniors have completed the FAFSA so far,” FCAN Executive Director Charleita M. Richardson said in the news release. “That’s why we’re encouraging our partners across the state to focus their efforts on supporting students with their FAFSAs.”

Richardson said the campaign wants federal forms more accessible for Florida students and families, the news release said.

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