KCS and Cabarrus schools take FAFSA challenge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 25, 2021

KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Schools and Cabarrus County Schools have officially accepted North Carolina’s First in FAFSA Challenge to help send more local high school seniors to college.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, challenge will involve Cabarrus Early College of Technology, Cabarrus Virtual Academy, Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College, Concord High School, Cox Mill High School, Hickory Ridge High School, Jay M. Robinson High School, Mount Pleasant High School, Northwest Cabarrus High School, Performance Learning Center and West Cabarrus High School and A.L. Brown High School competing against each other and hundreds of other high schools across the state to increase their FAFSA completion rates.

myFutureNC, along with Carolina Demography, College Foundation of North Carolina, College Advising Corps, the Hunt Institute, and the John M. Belk Endowment, are sponsoring the NC First in FAFSA School Challenge to motivate students to take full advantage of free federal aid to help them pay for college. Studies show students who complete the FAFSA are far more likely to enroll in higher education.

“The FAFSA is the first step to free or affordable college so we are thrilled to see 100% of our school districts across North Carolina participating in our First in FAFSA Challenge,” said Cecilia Holden, CEO of myFutureNC. “We are especially grateful to the district leaders, school principals, counselors, faculty, and staff at these high schools who are helping so many students and their families complete the FAFSA and take that first step for a lifetime of opportunity and success.”

NC First in FAFSA launched the inaugural FAFSA Challenge this semester to encourage high schools to earn the highest FAFSA completion rate and implement innovative strategies to support FAFSA completion locally. 494 North Carolina high schools or 75% of public high schools across the state have registered for the challenge.

Schools compete in the challenge with schools of similar size and type, with winners earning a $500 grant in each of the following categories:

  • Highest percentage of completed FAFSAs

  • Highest percent increase in FAFSA completion rate

  • Best FAFSA completion strategy

The challenge will conclude on June 30th, 2021 with winners announced by July 31st, 2021. Schools can keep track of their progress with the NC First in FAFSA Tracker to identify specific areas of need and create targeted efforts to increase attainment. Final FAFSA completion rates are calculated using FAFSA completion data from the U.S. Department of Education and final high school graduation counts from NC DPI.

Currently, Cooperative Innovative High Schools are not listed in the leaderboard for data limitation reasons. CIHS schools include an array of graduating seniors by grade level which makes it challenging to calculate the true FAFSA completion rate for these schools.

Updates to the leaderboard are made on the second Tuesday of each month. Winners will be announced this summer.