GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Fewer high school seniors in Wisconsin are applying for federal student aid for college

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) The pandemic has impacted many things and now some worry a college education might be the next casualty. Fewer students are applying for federal student aid and experts want to change that.

High school seniors preparing for college use the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to apply for financial aid. But this year the head of Achieve Brown County says FAFSA completion rates are down 10 percent and that has him worried.

“When the numbers are so low as they are right now, that raises our eyebrows, that’s a cause for concern,” said Spencer Bonnie.

Bonnie’s group is all about creating positive outcomes for young people. And the drop on completed FAFSA forms means many students are missing out on a huge opportunity.

“It’s a tool available to all high school seniors and their families, that allows them to gain access to over $150 billion in federal funding,” Bonnie said.

The national FAFSA completion rate for March 2021 is 45 percent, in Wisconsin it’s 39 percent, placing Wisconsin 36th out of 50 states.

Bonnie suspects pandemic fatigue comes in play here or perhaps students are unsure of what college in the fall will look like, or maybe they don’t know where to go for help with the form. Recently Achieve Brown County put together a FAFSA team, with members from businesses, school districts and colleges; the goal is to provide students and their families help.

“Our high school students have been through a lot this last year,” said Jennifer Jones.

Jones is the vice chancellor for enrollment at UW-Green Bay and on the FAFSA team.

“Ask for help. We have offices at all of these institutions just ready and waiting for somebody to come and say I need help finishing this little task, so I can take that next step towards enrollment,” Jones said.

Because Bonnie says a college education opens many doors.

“It is something that has the potential to be truly life changing for all young people in our community,” said Bonnie.

And the FAFSA form helps you find a way to afford it.

Visit Achieve Brown County using this link.

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