Need Money for College? Hillsborough LEAP Might Help
LEAP, a public-private coalition, aims to help more students and families in Hillsborough County receive financial aid for college.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – Finding the money to pay for college is one of the biggest hurdles to earning a degree.
A Hillsborough program has an answer.
LEAP, the Hillsborough College Access Network made up of a dozen community partners, aims to help more students and parents get over the money hurdle.
Partners and supporters including Hillsborough County School District, Hillsborough Community College, University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, United Way Suncoast and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay have collaborated on a series of financial aid nights and FAFSA workshop labs to provide assistance with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
FAFSA completion is the first step in the financial aid process, and determines the amount of financial support students may be able to receive to help them reach their postsecondary education goals. LEAP aims to increase the number of high school seniors completing the FAFSA this year by 5 percent in Hillsborough County. Last school year, only approximately 4 in 10 Hillsborough seniors completed the process, missing out on an estimated $9 million in available aid.
In addition to aid made possible by the federal aid system, Hillsborough Community College and the University of Tampa are offering $24,000 in scholarships and achievement awards to Hillsborough County high school seniors who complete their FAFSA financial aid form. Completing the FAFSA and bringing proof of completion to their high school counselor enters students into a drawing. One $1,000 HCC scholarship winner and one $2,000 University of Tampa Achievement Award winner will be drawn for each of the eight school district areas. Deadline to enter this drawing is April 1.
At the school district-sponsored financial aid nights, representatives from local colleges offer information and insights into the financial aid process. The college staff is joined by community volunteers trained by United Way to answer FAFSA questions at the FAFSA labs. The first lab is Saturday (Nov. 5) at HCC. They will continue at various Boys & Girls Clubs into early December. At the labs, volunteers and college staff assist students and families with the sometimes-difficult process of completing the online form. Participants attending the Labs will need to bring their FSA ID, parent and student 2015 tax returns, and parent and student 2015 W-2 forms.
This effort is just one initiative undertaken by LEAP, a local coalition of public and private organizations collectively supporting a nationwide movement called Goal 2025, which seeks to increase the percentage of 25-64 year olds who have completed a postsecondary degree or high quality credential to 60 percent. LEAP is also targeting that 60 percent goal for adults in Hillsborough County by 2025.
The path to that credential often starts by completing the FAFSA form – completing the FAFSA is the strongest predictor that a Florida resident will begin attending some kind of postsecondary education program, according to the Florida College Access Network.
Financial Aid Nights and Labs are scheduled throughout November and December at these times and locations in Hillsborough County:
• Saturday (Nov. 5): FAFSA Workshop Lab at Hillsborough Community College – Dale Mabry Campus, 4001 W Tampa Bay Blvd. (Student Services Building, Room 243) from noon to 4 p.m.
• Thursday (Nov. 10): Financial Aid Night at the Freedom High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Nov. 15: Financial Aid Night at the Riverview High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Nov. 17: FAFSA Workshop Lab at the Sandy & George Simmons Family Riverview Boys & Girls Club from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
• Nov. 29: Financial Aid Night at the Armwood High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Dec. 1: Financial Aid Night at Jefferson High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Dec. 3: FAFSA Workshop Lab at the Bill Carey Brandon Boys & Girls Club from noon – 4 p.m.
• Dec. 3: FAFSA Workshop Lab at the George M. Steinbrenner Family – West Tampa Boys & Girls Club from noon – 4 p.m.
• Dec. 5: Financial Aid Night at the Gaither High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Dec. 6: Financial Aid Night at the Plant City High School Auditorium from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
• Dec. 8: FAFSA Workshop Lab at the West Plant City Boys & Girls Club from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
For information, go to leaphillsborough.org.
Hillsborough County | Education | College | Financial Aid | LEAP | TB Reporter
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