High schools compete to win money for completing financial aid application

Priority deadline for FAFSA/TASFA is March 15 for first-round consideration by many colleges, as well as a few Texas scholarships and loans

Six HISD high schools could win up to $750 for having the largest percentage of students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 15.

Thanks to Advise TX and Texas A&M University, 13 HISD high schools have college graduates on campus year-round advising low-income students on what is required to get into a good school and how to pay for higher education.

“HISD is very happy to partner with Advise Texas to ensure that our students receive additional support in navigating the college and financial aid process,” said Assistant Superintendent of College Readiness Rick Cruz. “They are one of our strong continued partners that do great work alongside our staff to support our students.”

These college graduates are working hard right now to get seniors at their schools (see list of schools below) to complete their FAFSA by the March 15 deadline. Submitting the FAFSA or Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) by the priority deadline is highly recommended for students seeking to qualify for any of the following: Top 10 Percent Scholarship, Texas Grant, and Texas B-On-Time Loan.

Advise TX College Advising Corps is similar to Teach for America or the Peace Corps in that it places graduates in a position for one to two years after graduation and pays them a salary. Advise TX is part of College Advising Corps, a national organization that works to increase the number of students who enter and complete higher education.

“We hire Texas A&M graduates from all fields of study who are trained on college access and admissions, financial aid, student services, diversity, community service, and professionalism before they are assigned to a high school in Texas,” said Texas A&M Program Director Marcus Cooper. “Any student who walks into their high school college resource center is eligible for help. We work mostly with seniors, but we will help any high school students.”

“To motivate students, we decided to do a FAFSA challenge,” said Cooper. “HISD schools are divided into two groups, those with more than 450 seniors and those with less. The top three schools in each category will win $750, $500, and $250 respectively.”

The advisors, whose salaries are paid through Texas A&M, have to be 24 years old or younger, so that they can relate to students. “We look for enthusiastic graduates who really want to help students,” said Cooper. “A few of our past advisors are now working for HISD.”

A few students return to the high school from which they graduated, but most are assigned to a totally new school, where they work in the college resource center, library, or a computer lab, where students have access to computers.

Advise TX is sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board through the College Access Challenge Grant and private foundations and businesses. The program launched in 2009 at University of Texas at Austin.

HISD schools with Advise TX college graduates on staff: Chávez, Davis, Jones, Sam Houston, Jordan, Sharpstown, Sterling, Waltrip, Washington, Westbury, Wheatley, Worthing, and Yates.