CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The first of four planned prize giveaways from The Education Alliance for high school seniors who’ve completed their applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Promise Scholarship is scheduled for this week.
The “Cool Cash for College” contest, a cooperative effort from the Alliance and the Higher Education Policy Commission, launched earlier this month in response to a major decline in applications submitted thus far this year compared with this time last year.
In Dec. 2019, more than 5,300 high school seniors had completed the FAFSA.
This year, that number was around 3,600.
This time last year, information from HEPC showed more than 7,200 high school seniors had filled out Promise applications.
This year, that number was at just more than 2,700 as of last week.
Dr. Amelia Courts, president and CEO of The Education Alliance, called the dropoff “dramatic,” most likely reflecting school instruction shifts to virtual formats because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is truly frightening. It really is. We all need to sort of sound the alarm bells because it is something that is going to have lasting repercussions,” Courts said.
“The good news is we know we can do something about it. We still have time, but we really need to take this seriously and we need to all act.”
In response, “Cool Cash for College” was available HERE.
High school students who fill out FAFSAs and Promise applications via that website will be automatically entered into drawings for prizes that include 40 grand prizes, Apple AirPods, wireless printers or mini refrigerators, and 100 second prizes, $20 gift cards.
Drawings were scheduled for Dec. 17, Jan. 12, Feb. 16 and March 2.
The deadline to apply for the Promise Scholarship is March 1. Qualifying ACT or SAT test scores could be submitted through Aug. 31.
“If they miss out on that opportunity, they’re going to literally leave dollars on the table that could have a lasting impact on the financial aid that they’re able to receive for college or, in some cases, even maybe preventing them from going on to college,” said Courts.
Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, higher education chancellor, agreed.
“We have to encourage our young people to not lose sight of their futures,” Dr. Tucker said in a statement.
For students needing assistance, a financial aid hotline was available at 877-987-7664.
Text and email supports were also options.