Education Impact Team Helps Increase FAFSA Completion Across Arizona
Last year, high school seniors in Arizona lost $100 Million in Pell Grants because 56% of students failed to fill out a FAFSA. Our Postsecondary Access Impact Team’s goal is to increase awareness of the importance of federal financial aid application completion among various community stakeholders and to help achieve 60% postsecondary attainment by 2030.
The team has two strategies to accomplish this. One is to educate stakeholders through business partnerships and the second is through a state-wide FAFSA awareness campaign in partnership with Cox Media. Here’s a little more on the FAFSA awareness campaign and how our partnership with Cox Media has had such a powerful impact.
Building a coalition of Arizona education leaders
In 2020, the Education Impact Team, led by Lorenzo Chavez, brought together a coalition of Arizona education leaders with the goal of developing an awareness marketing campaign aimed at students and families about the importance of completing the FAFSA.
The initial coalition members were the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona State University, Ask Benji, Be A Leader Foundation, and College Success Arizona. This coalition has now grown to 20+ organizations.
“This Coalition is an amazing example of one of the core principles guiding Impact Maker work: Team Mindset. This team’s work in postsecondary access shows how strategic collaboration can create meaningful and sustainable impact on a most pressing Arizona issue,” said Lorenzo Chavez, the Executive Director, Education & Scholarships at Arizona Community Foundation, Post-Secondary To Do Item Lead and Education Team Chair.
The Coalition knew there were numerous resources and tools available to Arizona students in need of help with their FAFSA completion, but in order to spread awareness about these free assistance programs and have them be more accessible, the team created a singular site which serves as a one-stop-shop for FAFSA resources. Now students and families can go to one place to find expert assistance through the Arizona FAFSA Hotline, schedule meetings with local FAFSA experts, or access 24/7 digital assistance through the AskBenji chatbot.
Launching a state-wide awareness campaign
In the Spring of 2021, the coalition launched its first state-wide awareness campaign with a limited budget of only $15,000. They developed the “Cash for Class” slogan that is still used today, reached almost 800,000 high school seniors and families and garnered 12,779 clicks directing students to the fafsa.gov site.
As the campaign entered its second year, the team brought on a new partner, Cox Media, to scale the reach of the campaign for the 2021-2022 school year. The Coalition raised $50,000 for the campaign leveraging a$300,000 in-kind contribution from Cox. This partnership resulted in 7,200,000 impressions and 22,000 clicks to azfafsa.org.
The most recent year of this campaign has just concluded with even more impressive results. This year, Arizona is the 6th most improved state in the nation for FAFSA completion, with a 6.1% increase from last year, accounting for 2,332 more completions… and counting.
“Our partnership with Cox Communication on our FAFSA campaign is instrumental in helping connect with students and families where they are. Often students and families who are navigating the college admissions process find it difficult to find resources or even where to start,” said Lorenzo Chavez. “The FAFSA is an instrumental component of applying to any college or university, and the Cox FAFSA Campaign has helped to bring awareness about this tool and the resources to complete it”
Addressing one of Arizona’s most pressing issues
It is vital that every Arizona student be prepared to achieve success in their educational career as well as have the opportunity to reap the benefits of postsecondary education, should they choose. Educational equity plays such a key role in Arizona’s overall economic prosperity, civic health, and quality of life.
The Education Impact Team, along with Cox and numerous other partners across the state continue to expand on the coalition’s work to increase awareness about the importance of FAFSA while also increasing meaningful collaboration between organizations in our state.
Interested in supporting this effort to increase educational opportunities for students across Arizona? Please reach out to Paige Soucie at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how you can get involved!
Thank you to our partners for making all of this possible
Be A Leader Foundation, College Depot, Northern Arizona University College Resource Center, Metropolitan Education Commission, Arizona State University, AskBenji, Arizona Department of Education, Education Forward Arizona, Governor’s Office of Education, Yavapai County Education Service Agency, Arizona Board of Regents, Earn To Learn, Helios Education Foundation, Maricopa Community Colleges, AzCan College Access Network, Arizona Gear Up, Mesa AZ, United Way Valley of the Sun.