March 29, 2010

Mayor Daley Says City Clerk's Office, Public Schools Can Help Families Fill Out College Financial Aid Forms

CPS Students Post Record “FAFSA” Completion Rate
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

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Help is available through the office of City Clerk Miguel del Valle and the Chicago Public Schools for parents and students who must complete the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply for the state and federal funds available to help pay for college, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.

“Every year, the millions of dollars available through the state in this program run out before many students complete the forms and send in their application,” Daley said in a news conference held at Steinmetz High School, 3030 N. Mobile Av., at which he was joined by del Valle.

“We can’t let the fact that we’re in the worst recession in 70 years stand in the way of our students getting a chance to get a college education,” he said.

The Mayor also announced that compared to the same time last year, there is a 33 percent increase in the number of eligible CPS seniors who have completed the financial aid form. The students who have filled out the form have access to $75 million in federal and state funding. Each student can receive a maximum of $10,000 per year.

Last year at this time, 44 percent of eligible students had completed the paperwork. This year the number is almost 59 percent – a record high.
Steinmetz, for example, has seen a 38 percentage point increase in FAFSA completion compared to the same time last year.

Daley said that nothing is more important to guaranteeing the city’s future than the education of its young people.

“We must continue to build a public education system that graduates students with the skills and education they need to go on to college or some other form of higher education and to succeed in life and help keep Chicago competitive in the global economy of the future. But without some financial assistance, many of our young people can’t go on to college,” he said.

Completing the FAFSA form can be challenging, Daley said as he praised del Valle’s program to help parents and students complete it.

To help students receive the maximum amount of financial aid for which they are
eligible, the Clerk’s office and the non-profit organization “Ladder Up” have partnered to provide students with free FAFSA completion assistance on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. through April 20 in Room 107 of City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.

“It is vital that students and their parents complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible,” del Valle said.

Students should bring their identification number (Social Security Number), the most recent copy of their tax return and any asset information they may have. If a student is supported by his or her parents, the student should also bring his or her parents’ tax return, Social Security Numbers (if applicable) and birthdates. It is recommended that parents accompany their student to the financial aid assistance session.

Daley commended the Chicago Public Schools on the success of its FAFSA program and the record number of students who have completed the forms this year.

“We know the majority of our students qualify for the full amount of federal assistance. In fact, because of the recession, we have 12 percent more students eligible for financial assistance this year than last,” Daley said.

“So it’s critical that all our young people and their families take advantage of the help that’s available to complete the application form,” he said.

CPS credits the jump to an aggressive campaign to increase the FAFSA completion rate for graduating seniors mounted by the CPS Department of College and Career Preparation.

CPS focused additional resources on helping our students complete the FAFSA forms this year because research shows that students who complete them are more likely to go to college. 

“We have worked hard over the past several years to lift students’ expectations, to help them see high school graduation not as an end but as the first step toward a successful career in their chosen field,” Daley said.

“To keep our progress going and to secure Chicago’s economic future, we must provide every child with a high quality education. The programs we’re talking about today help us do just that,” he said. 

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