MANCHESTER — Manchester is one of 22 cities receiving a grant that will go toward assisting high school students in filling out financial aid forms and college applications that can be intimidating for some.
The $48, 950 grant from the non-profit National College Access Network will allow Manchester to staff a University of New Hampshire student access team at all four district high schools to help students with financial aid forms and college applications.
Guidance counselors also will get training on changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), used to apply for state and federal aid. Funding also will cover transportation for high school students to attend college access activities at UNH Manchester’s campus.
“It’s an exciting way to make sure all of our students have every opportunity for success in post-secondary education, ” said school Superintendent Debra Livingston.
The city will also use the grant to set up a website for financial aid form information. It also will conduct a contest for Manchester School District middle and high school students to design a logo for the site. Manchester students who submit a completed financial aid form will have their college application fee waived at UNH Manchester and Manchester Community College.
Manchester could gain more grant money depending on how much improvement it makes.
Completing the financial aid application, school officials said, is strongly associated with enrolling in college.
Fewer than 47 percent of all Manchester seniors in the Class of 2015 completed their forms.
The National College Access Network set a goal for the Class of 2017 to raise the completion rate by at least 5 percentage points over the Class of 2015 while Manchester school officials expect to increase the rate by 10 percentage points from 46.41 percent to 56.41 percent.
The Obama Administration last year made two changes to make applying for aid in the fall of 2016 easier and better timed for low-income students.
The first is to move the completion date up from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, enabling seniors to complete the form and receive their federal financial aid eligibility before college applications are due. The other change allows families to use the most recently filed return rather than the current requirement of tax forms from the calendar year of application.