Odessa College among 25 chosen to receive 2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge

ODESSA (June 5, 2018) – The National College Access Network announced in a blog on its website that Odessa is among the 25 U.S. cities selected to receive up to $40,000 each for the 2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant.

Odessa College director of financial aid Ashley Warren said that OC submitted its FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant application, requesting $40,000, to NCAN in mid-May, and proposed that the college would work in partnership with Ector County Independent School District to successfully meet the Completion Challenge. NCAN approved the college’s grant for the full amount.

Through the FAFSA Completion Challenge project, which is generously funded by The Kresge Foundation and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, NCAN challenges each of the grant recipients to increase their FAFSA completion rates by at least five percentage points for the graduating high school class of 2019. In an effort to address equity gaps, this Challenge specifically focuses on cities with current FAFSA completion rates below the national average.

The 2018-19 competition builds on the success of the original Kresge-funded 2016-17 FAFSA Completion Challenge.

“The 2016-17 Challenge demonstrated that cities could achieve significant progress in just one school year by working collaboratively across sectors to give students the FAFSA completion support they need,” said Caroline Altman Smith, Kresge’s deputy director for its Education program. “This is a high-leverage investment for philanthropy because the FAFSA enables students to tap into huge amounts of government resources that often go unclaimed.” 

Completion of the FAFSA may help predict a student's success in postsecondary education. Ninety percent of high school seniors who complete FAFSA attend college directly after high school, compared to just 55 percent of FAFSA non-completers. 

Amy Kerwin, Great Lakes vice president for community investments, said, “Great Lakes is pleased to join our Kresge colleagues in supporting the FAFSA Completion Challenge because of the opportunity to spread evidence-based strategies for FAFSA completion to more communities. Successful cities are learning to use data to target the right support to the right students at the right time. We want to help even more school districts understand how to help all their seniors complete this vital step to entering postsecondary education.”

The additional selected cities and organizations receiving the grant are:

  • Baltimore, MD: Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Charleston, SC: Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
  • Corpus Christi, TX: Citizens for Educational Excellence
  • Denton, TX: Denton Independent School District
  • Fort Wayne, IN: Northeast Indiana Foundation
  • Fort Worth, TX: Fort Worth Independent School District
  • Grand Prairie, TX: Grand Prairie Independent School District
  • Irving, TX: Irving Independent School District
  • Kent, WA: Puget Sound College & Career Network (Puget Sound Educational Service District)
  • Mesa, AZ: Mesa Public Schools
  • Milwaukee, WI: Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Mobile, AL: Mobile Area Education Foundation
  • Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma College Assistance Program
  • Palm Bay City, FL: Brevard Public Schools
  • Reno, NV: Truckee Meadows Community College
  • Rochester, NY: Rochester Education Foundation
  • Round Rock, TX: Round Rock Independent School District
  • San Diego, CA: The Regents of the University of California/San Diego and Imperial Counties Cal-SOAP
  • Savannah, GA: University System of Georgia
  • South Bend, IN: United Way of St. Joseph County
  • Tucson, AZ: The Metropolitan Education Commission
  • Tyler, TX: Tyler Area Business Education Council
  • Vancouver, WA: Vancouver Public Schools
  • West Valley City, UT: Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority

NCAN will award a $100,000 grand prize in September 2019 at its national conference in Indianapolis to one city based on a holistic review of the percentage growth in completions, adoption of effective strategies, barriers overcome, and likelihood of sustainability. 

A distinguished advisory committee assisted with the grantee selection process: 

  • Sarah Belnick, ECMC Foundation
  • Eddie Brambila, Illinois Student Assistance Commission
  • John Brown, Capital University
  • Nathaniel Easley, Blue School Partners
  • Juan Garcia, ACT
  • Adam Green, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
  • Ashley Johnson, Detroit College Access Network
  • Troy Miller, Florida College Access Network

For more information, contact OC director of media relations, Cheri Dalton, 432-335-6530.