SUNY Chancellor King Announces Federal Grant to Launch SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps to Help Prospective Students Access Financial Aid

October 11, 2023

New York Students Miss Out on $200 Million in Federal Financial Aid Due to Low FAFSA Completion Rate

University at Albany, Buffalo State University, SUNY Canton, Genesee Community College, Jamestown Community College, and SUNY Old Westbury Students to Serve Thanks to AmeriCorps Grant

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps, which will help prospective students complete the new federal application for college financial aid. SUNY received a nearly $300,000 grant from AmeriCorps to launch the initiative, which will begin with 48 students across six SUNY campuses.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application is expected to relaunch in December 2023 with changes to make it simpler to apply. The FAFSA Completion Corps will be selected and trained in time to help more New Yorkers complete the FAFSA, which is the starting point for most federal and state financial aid.

"SUNY is an extraordinary value proposition, and more than half of SUNY undergraduates are able to attend tuition-free thanks to state and federal financial aid," said SUNY Chancellor King. "We are excited to launch the FAFSA Completion Corps so more New Yorkers can receive the financial aid they deserve. Across SUNY, we are using every tool we have to help New Yorkers be fully informed of their college options and know how to get available funding."

The New York State Commission on National and Community Service Executive Director Linda Cohen said, "Dedicating this funding to assemble a FAFSA Completion Corps is an innovative approach that embodies what AmeriCorps does best – assisting our communities with practical, results-based solutions. The Commission is proud to support SUNY students by helping secure vital assistance to which they may not otherwise have access to. Thanks to this program, many more New Yorkers will be able to achieve their educational goals and obtain the kinds of skills and knowledge that help build stable, independent futures."

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, "Access to federal funding is a critical tool for lower- and middle-class students trying to further their education. But, as studies have shown, many simply don’t know about the grants they have available to them. The SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps will encourage more young men and women to pursue a bachelor’s degree while boosting enrollment on SUNY campuses across the state. I thank AmeriCorps for launching this impactful initiative."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "As Chair of the Higher Education Committee in the Assembly, I’m grateful to Chancellor John King for his leadership and his shared priority of streamlining the high school to college and financial aid experience. SUNY’s new FAFSA Completion Corps will ensure that students struggling with FAFSA applications or those who have questions will have another resource and support to help them navigate that process, ultimately leading to more students achieving their dream of attaining a higher education. Kudos to SUNY for securing this AmeriCorps grant and putting it into action."

University at Albany, Buffalo State University, SUNY Canton, Genesee Community College, Jamestown Community College, and SUNY Old Westbury students will be selected for 48 spots. Once selected, each student will complete their training before reaching out within their region of the state to provide assistance to high school students, adult learners, and currently enrolled college students through financial aid nights, working with community organizations, and interacting on campuses. Students will receive programmatic support through their campus.

University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez said, "With affordable tuition and generous state financial aid programs, a SUNY degree is one of the best values in higher education. Our new FAFSA Completion Corps will help ensure UAlbany students maximize the financial assistance available to them and prepare them to launch into successful careers after they graduate."

Buffalo State University Interim President Bonita Durand said, "We at Buffalo State are delighted to expand our relationship with AmeriCorps through the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps initiative. Financial aid is often one of the most important factors in determining whether a student can afford to attend college and be successful. This program will provide additional and much needed guidance for prospective students and families across our region. It also reinforces the importance of community service and giving back to our current students who will be providing the assistance."

SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran said, "Our participation in the FAFSA Completion Corps bolsters our commitment to prospective students as they look to gain greater career mobility through our signature educational programs. It empowers students to help their peers bridge financial gaps, ensuring every aspiring learner can access higher education. It's another means of allowing students to unlock their full potential, which is emblematic of our educational mission at SUNY Canton."

Genesee Community College President James M. Sunser said, "Genesee Community College is grateful to AmeriCorps and to SUNY for the opportunity to participate in the FAFSA Completion Corps program. This support will be integral in building on our existing efforts to remove financial barriers for students seeking access to higher education."

SUNY Old Westbury President Timothy E. Sams said, "The financial aid process can be cumbersome and confusing, especially for first-generation students, so many of whom our campus serves. Peer-to-peer education and assistance offers a wonderful opportunity to help prospective students overcome this challenge. We are proud to have our students be part of the FAFSA Completion Corps."

In New York State, about half of high school students complete their FAFSA application, leaving hundreds of millions in federal and state financial aid untouched and lessening their chance at a college education. According to an analysis by the National College Attainment Network, the high school class of 2022 left about $3.6 billion in Pell Grants nationwide unclaimed by not completing the FAFSA; in New York State, $200 million was left unclaimed in Pell Grants. Studies have shown that students completing the FAFSA are more likely to go to college. About 90% of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA go to college directly after graduation, compared to just 55% of seniors who do not complete the FAFSA. The impact is dramatically higher for high school students in the lowest socioeconomic quintile, as FAFSA completion is correlated with a 127% increase in immediate post-secondary enrollment.

The FAFSA Completion Corps is one way New York State is working to improve these statistics by training college students to provide in-person assistance with the financial aid application process.

The six campuses have committed to ensuring that the positions are funded through federal work-study or other financial resources. Additionally, at the end of the AmeriCorps service term, students will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which may be used to repay qualified loans and to pay current educational expenses at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs.

October was proclaimed by the Governor as College Application Month in New York State to raise awareness of the vast higher education opportunities across New York State and to support students seeking to pursue higher education. In addition to expanding financial assistance to help students enroll, SUNY is waiving the application fee for all high school seniors, transfer students, and adult learners for two weeks beginning on Monday, October 16, through Monday, October 29. Applicants can apply to up to five SUNY schools for free, a $250 savings. Visit suny.edu/apply. SUNY is offering both in-person and virtual workshops and information sessions to help students apply to college this October. Visit suny.edu/studentevents to sign up.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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