Tag Archives: college

Students at 22 high schools participated in second-annual HISD FAFSA Day

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It’s not too late to apply for free financial aid from the federal government

HISD high schools across the district hosted HISD’s second-annual FAFSA Day on Thurs., Feb. 19. Administrators, staff, and volunteers were on hand at 22 area schools to assist students and their parents complete the application accurately and on time.

HISD partnered with Neighborhood Centers, which provided volunteers to help parents file their income tax returns. The family’s financial information is used to calculate the “Expected Family Contribution,” a key factor in the assessment of how much each family is expected to contribute and how much financial aid they will receive. Once students had their parents’ finalized tax information, they could get assistance with their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application at the same location.

“I came here to do my taxes, so I would be able to file my FAFSA for college,” said Sharpstown senior Preston Seymore. “After I graduate, I’m going to HCC to get my fire and EMT training. This is a wonderful thing, and I recommend that every school have a group of people come out and help students like this.”

Undocumented students are also eligible to receive state aid, but they will need to fill out the TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid), which was created for students who do not have a Social Security number and are not eligible for federal student aid. See Houston FAFSA, a communitywide effort to help high school seniors and their families, for more information.

“Completing the FAFSA is an important step in ensuring college enrollment among our students,” said David Johnston, director of the HISD College Readiness Team. “In fact, seniors who complete the FAFSA are 90 percent more likely to attend college than those who don’t.”

Once students have completed the FAFSA or TASFA application, the colleges they have applied to AND received acceptance letters from will begin to put together a financial aid package for them.

“Deadlines for financial aid vary from school to school, so unfortunately there’s not really a hard deadline,” said College Readiness Specialist Derick Hutchinson. “It really depends on the school the student is going to as to the deadline. But students should always apply for FAFSA before the priority deadline to ensure that it is processed in time for the start of the fall semester.”

For most colleges, the FAFSA priority deadline is March 15, 2015. Although students can apply anytime, grant funding is limited, and colleges cannot guarantee their financial aid award will be processed by the start of the fall semester.

There are thousands of college scholarships out there, but the U.S. government is by far the largest provider of student financial aid. FAFSA gives students access to $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds.

For questions, please contact your high school campus or the HISD College Readiness Dept. at 713-556-7196. Be sure to visit the HISD FAFSA/TAFSA website here.

Texas College Night encourages students to find the right fit for higher education

More than 1,000 HISD high school students met with admissions representatives from a variety of colleges and universities Tuesday at Texas College Night at the University of Houston.

Students learned about college admissions requirements, academic programs, and financial aid and scholarship opportunities at Texas’ top colleges and universities such as UH, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Sam Houston State University.

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Eight HISD Students Named National Achievement Scholarship Semifinalists

Eight seniors from seven high schools throughout the Houston Independent School District have qualified as semifinalists in the prestigious National Achievement Scholarship Program.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program is a privately funded academic competition created in 1964 to recognize and provide scholarships to academically promising African-American students across the country. It is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and works in concert with the National Merit Scholarship Program.

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HISD Celebrates Success of Students in District’s Early Colleges

These students from the Houston Academy for International Studies are earning credits before college. How many do you have? Click the photo to see more of HISD's Early College students and find out how many credits they've earned before graduation.

Houston ISD’s five early college high schools are celebrating student success as part of Early College High School Week from March 25 thru March 30. Early college high schools allow students to earn a college associate’s degree for free while earning their high school diploma. HISD’s Challenge Early College High School was the first to open at HISD and in the state of Texas.

“Our goal at Challenge is to provide the students the support and resources they need to be successful high school and college students,” Challenge Principal Tonya Miller said. “The expectations are high but the students that come to this campus know that already and are highly motivated to succeed.”

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HISD Partners with Houston Hispanic Forum to Bus Students to 27th Annual Career and Education Day

HISD information booths and workshops on college-readiness and parental involvement will also be available

 

What:   HISD is participating in the 27th Annual Career and Education Day presented by the Houston Hispanic Forum to help provide students and families all the resources necessary to help them get into college, explore possible career paths and obtain financial aid assistance.  This free event includes hundreds of bilingual representatives from universities, colleges, and community organizations as well as dozens of educational workshops. Free lunch will be provided for all attendees.

All students in grades 6 – 12 and their parents are encouraged to attend.

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High Schools Holding FAFSA Workshops for Student and Parents

Seniors heading to college need to apply for financial aid by March 15

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As HISD seniors begin receiving college acceptance letters, another important part of the college process begins—figuring out how to pay for it! In an effort to help HISD students and their families apply for financial aid, high schools across the district have been holding FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) workshops. Continue reading

New Futuro Awards HISD Students with Scholarships, iPad

Thousands of Houston students and their families left the New Futuro college prep fair in October equipped with all the tools and resources necessary to get into college and beyond. But three lucky HISD students left with more, including thousands of dollars in scholarships.

New Futuro’s biggest prizes, a $4,500 and a $2,500 college scholarship, went to Alejandro Reyes from Hartman Middle School and Jennifer Hernandez from Debakey High School. 

“I’m really grateful for this scholarship,” said Hernandez, an aspiring clinical psychologist who plans to attend St. Edward’s University. “College is expensive and any amount is helpful, especially if it helps relieve the burden my parents will face when I attend the university.”  Continue reading

Hundreds More HISD Students Achieve College-Ready Scores on SAT

The number of Houston ISD students taking the SAT college entrance exam has nearly doubled in just two years, and the number of graduates scoring at college-ready levels on the SAT has hit a new record, according to figures released today. 

A score of 500 or better in each of the three SAT subjects – reading, math, and writing – is considered to be a strong sign that a student is prepared for college-level work.  The Houston Independent School District’s seniors of 2012 posted significant gains in this area since 2010.  In just two years, the number of HISD students scoring 500 or better has risen to 2,056 in reading (26 percent increase); 2,738 in math (41 percent increase); and 1,816 in writing (20 percent increase).

“HISD students and teachers are showing that they can meet the challenge when we raise expectations and increase the level of academic rigor in every classroom,” Superintendent Terry Grier said. “We should all be proud that hundreds more HISD graduates showed up to college this fall prepared to meet the challenge and succeed.”

In 2011, HISD became one of the very few school districts in America to offer every high school junior the chance to take the SAT for free during the school day.  Students also received free access to the College Board’s online SAT test preparation materials.  Typically, students must pay a fee and sign up to take the SAT on a weekend. 

HISD’s effort to increase access to the SAT exam paid off, with 9,480 students in the Class of 2012 having taken the SAT, compared to just 4,920 in the Class of 2010. This represents a 93 percent increase in students taking the SAT.  Two years ago, 52 percent of HISD seniors attempted the SAT at some point during high school.  Now, 92 percent of students are taking the SAT by their senior year. 

The rise in the number of HISD students taking the SAT was so significant that HISD accounted for half of the total statewide increase in the number of students who sat for the exam.

“On behalf of the entire College Board, I want to congratulate HISD for its outstanding growth in SAT access and success in 2012,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton.  “I have had the pleasure of visiting Houston public schools and I have seen firsthand the power and the possibility afforded by the college-going culture that the district’s administrators and faculty instill in their students. HISD should be a model for large school districts across the country at a time when a weak economy is decimating their ability to produce college and career ready graduates.” 

This increase in college readiness comes at a time when HISD graduates are earning more scholarship money with each passing year.  In 2012, scholarship offers to HISD students exceeded $180 million, compared to $97 million in 2010.

Significant progress made by all racial and ethnic groups

The number of students scoring at the college-ready level has risen in every subject among every racial and ethnic group since 2010. 

  • Among African American students, the number scoring 500 or better has increased 33 percent in reading, 55 percent in math, and 35 percent in writing.
  • The number of Hispanic students reaching the college-ready level has jumped 40 percent in reading, 73 percent in math, and 29 percent in writing.
  • Among white students, the number reaching the college-ready mark has climbed 23 percent in reading, 21 percent in math, and 16 percent in writing.
  • The number of Asian American students hitting the college-ready mark is up l percent in reading, 4 percent in math, and 3 percent in writing.

Participation up among all student groups

SAT participation rates increased rapidly for students of every race and ethnicity over the past two years. 

  • For the Class of 2012, there were 2,654 African American students tested, compared to 1,508 in 2010, an increase of 76 percent.
  • The number of Hispanic students tested jumped from 2,165 in 2010 to 5,063, a 134-percent increase. 
  • Among white students, the number tested increased from 673 in 2010 to 890 in 2012, an increase of 32 percent.
  • The number of Asian American students tested now stands at 456, compared to 388 in 2010, a difference of 18 percent.

As participation increases, average scores decline

As the number of students taking the exam dramatically increased, average scores dropped predictably.  The College Board has reported that scores tend to decline as the number of low-income students and first-generation immigrant students take the exam.  In 2012, the average HISD reading score dropped 35 points to 410, while the average math score declined 31 points to 439, and writing dropped by 34 points to 406.  Average SAT scores also declined nationally and statewide. 

If we eliminate the bottom 3,259 scores in 2012, which is the difference in the number of students tested from 2011 to 2012, average scores in each subject would increase substantially.  The average composite score for the top 6,225 students tested in 2012 is 1,424, compared to 1,355 for the 6,225 students in the Class of 2011 who took the SAT.  Although this is not a statistically valid comparison to make, it does offer some valuable insight into the impact that increasing the testing pool has on average scores.

“While Houston’s students are making strong progress, far too many are leaving high school unprepared for college and to contribute to our city’s prosperity,” Dr. Grier said.  “We must do better.”

This year, HISD launched a new and improved curriculum designed with the input of thousands of teachers. The new curriculum is aligned with state and national standards and will prepare students to meet increasingly tough academic standards.  The new curriculum also places an emphasis on every child reading at or above grade level.

Moving forward, high school teachers and counselors will be encouraging more students to take advantage of the free online SAT test preparation materials that are available from the College Board.

Graduating Seniors Receive Record-Breaking Scholarship Offers

More than 9,000 seniors will graduate from HISD high schools in the coming days. So far, HISD seniors have been offered more than $172 million in college scholarships, a record-breaking amount that surpasses last year’s total by more than $40 million and the total for the Class of 2012 is still growing.

Almost 90 percent of HISD’s graduates have been accepted into college and half of these students were accepted into a 4-year university. In fact at Davis High School, for the first time in the school’s history, the entire graduating class applied and got accepted into a two or four year college or university. Plus, the district currently boasts the highest graduation rate and the lowest dropout rate ever.

These are all results of the district’s efforts to ensure every student is prepared for college and one of the reasons HISD’s high schools continue to be among the nation’s best.

Twenty-one HISD high schools recently earned recognition in the Washington Post High School Challenge, a list of 1,800 schools representing the top 9 percent in the nation when it comes to preparing graduates for college. Only 125 Texas high schools made the list, and HISD campuses – Carnegie Vanguard, Eastwood Academy, and DeBakey High School for Health Professions – represent three of the national top 100.

In addition, HISD high schools also occupy 9 out of 1,000 positions on Newsweek’s list of America’s Best High Schools. Only 86 Texas high schools made the Newsweek list.

These national rankings are a result of the district’s Advanced Placement initiative that began in 2009 to ensure all HISD students have access to at least 15 college-level AP courses in every high school.

Last year students earned a score of 3 or higher, which is the score most colleges require for course credit, on 6,657 AP exams, which is a 35 percent increase from 2009.

Such strong AP initiative is also one of the reasons HISD is among the four finalists for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, the nation’s most prestigious education award which recognizes the top urban school district in America for its strong academic achievement and narrowing the achievement gap.

In keeping with the district’s mission of creating a college-bound culture in every school, HISD opened the Energized for STEM Academy in 2008 in an effort to help students earn college credits that will prepare them for postsecondary academics as well as technical careers in a variety of fields. On June 2, the inaugural Energized for STEM Academy Class of 2012 will be graduating with college credits and have all been accepted into college or the United States Military and were awarded scholarships totaling nearly $2 million.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier will attend the following graduation ceremonies.

Saturday, June 2 10:00am Chavez High School Hofheinz Pavilion, University of Houston
Saturday, June 2 4:00 pm Scarborough High School George R. Brown Convention Center
Sunday, June 3 4:00 pm Sharpstown High School Delmar Sports Complex

Click here for the entire list of graduation ceremonies.