April 9, 2021 View as Webpage
ODE Approves FAFSA Grant for Stark County
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, by December 2020, applications for student financial aid were down 16.8% nationally and had decreased 10.9% in Ohio.1 Locally, Stark County's applications had dropped by 8.4%.
A collaborative effort to raise the number of Greater Stark County FAFSA2 applicants has been funded by a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Grant. On Monday, April 5th, the Ohio Department of Education informed Stark Education Partnership of the grant's full approval for $42,800. "We’re absolutely thrilled to receive this vital funding to support students filing a FAFSA," Dr. Teresa Purses explained. "The team we’ve assembled is dedicated to assisting students of all ages in finding money to reduce the costs of an education after high school."

Of the 22 Greater Stark County districts, twelve are included in Ohio’s priority list – those with low (below 40%) FAFSA completion rates or more than a 3.5% decline since January 2020. The remaining ten districts are included in the grant in order to serve vulnerable populations.
A coalition – including the Stark County Educational Service Center, Stark State College, CARE Teams, Family Support Specialists, Urban League Navigators and the Stark Education Partnership (lead applicant) – will implement six key strategies. While training coaches/navigators in how best to support students and families, focus will also be on creating awareness within the community of the important opportunities available to pay for education.
Strategy #1: DATA – Use student-level and school-level FAFSA completion data to target students for personal outreach while monitoring data throughout the process.

Strategy #2 FAFSA FACILITATORS Identify FAFSA Facilitators who are experienced in mentoring and supporting students and families.

Strategy #3: TRAINING AND COACHING Partner with Stark State financial aid professionals to train FAFSA Facilitators in how to file a FAFSA and how to problem solve during the application process.

Strategy #4: FAFSA FOCUS – Host FAFSA events and provide one-to-one appointments and other opportunities to provide support for students and families.

Strategy #5: HELP WITH QUESTIONSProvide just in time help for unusual questions through financial aid personnel and Ask Tassel, a free service to help solve FAFSA problems, offered by College Now Greater Cleveland.

"Every day we are seeing colleges open opportunities for students. Stark State offered a free Spring 8 week condensed class; a buy-one-get-one-free Summer class; and now free tuition for one year to Stark County Class of 2021 students," Dr. Purses continued. "All of these opportunities require filing a FAFSA. We know the efforts of this grant are essential to getting our high school seniors to continue their education for a certificate or a degree."
It’s important to note that financial aid opportunities at participating regionally or nationally accredited schools include two year and four year colleges, career centers and adult training centers.

1 https://formyourfuture.org/fafsa-tracker/
2 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Stark Education Partnership (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) collaborates with education, business, civic and community members across the entire spectrum – cradle to career – to create and respond to opportunities that will provide ALL students with education and career success.