Increasing Access to Post-Secondary Education

THE SITUATION

By 2020, more than two-thirds of Oregon jobs will require post-secondary education. Yet many students lack the connections and support to navigate from high school to their next step. It’s a matter of having a plan for college or career training and finding the support to make it real. To help young people bridge the divide, we need to shift our thinking from “best of luck” to “I’ve got your back.” This shift is well underway.

 

THE WORK SO FAR

Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a key driver of post-secondary enrollment. That is why in 2015 All Hands Raised began an unprecedented effort to dramatically increase FAFSA and ORSAA (Oregon’s dedicated student aid for undocumented students) completion rates. As a set of proven practices emerged, we spread these practices to every school in the region.

Today, every school in the county has a designated “FAFSA Champion” on staff who monitors data and organizes school-wide strategies. In addition, twice a month we distribute a countywide dashboard that tracks every school’s FAFSA completion rates.

We are taking this work deeper, partnering with three schools to use data to redesign their approach to college and career guidance, integrate postsecondary planning into core classes and mobilize support from every adult in the building to help students graduate with a clear path to a successful life after high school.

2019-20 School Community Site Teams:

  • Centennial High School
  • Franklin High School
  • Madison High School

 

IMPACT

13 percentage point increase in FAFSA completion rates countywide since 2014.

53 community volunteers were deployed to 25 FAFSA completion events across 16 schools.

100% of seniors at Centennial High School have been matched with a staff mentor to help them with post-secondary planning.

82 Franklin High School recent graduates took part in a summer transition program in partnership with Portland Community College.

 

THE WORK YET TO BE DONE

When it comes to the FAFSA completion strategies of recent years, our community’s results speak for themselves. But ensuring a “warm hand-off” to college or career training for every student is a much bigger effort. It will take persistent focus, reliable use of data and a collective commitment to bridging the divides between systems and institutions. Schools need to better engage families. Every adult in every school must be empowered to help students along their path. Community partners can play a greater role. As effective practices emerge from our partner schools, we will continue to share them across the region.

 


“It’s exhilarating to be in a room with people who share a mission of breaking down every barrier for people that come to us looking for hope. We are truly putting more of our students on a path to their future—that’s empowering.”

– Holly Vaughn-Edmonds, Counselor, Franklin High School

 

Resources