With approximately 60% of jobs in the Austin MSA requiring some form of postsecondary education, the Austin Chamber of Commerce has partnered with area schools, colleges, businesses, and community organizations to help families afford the education and training they need to compete for good jobs in Central Texas.

As part of this effort, the Chamber is hosting approximately 50 events on high school campuses to help graduating seniors and their parents complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Texas Application for State Financial Aid. These forms are the primary ways students can qualify for grants, scholarships, work-study, and other aid to make postsecondary enrollment more affordable. As part of this effort, the Chamber organizes training and placement for 100+ business and community volunteers to support FAFSA and TASFA submissions ahead of the Texas priority aid deadlines. Volunteers add to counselor capacity to help more students and families file early and increase student opportunities to qualify for limited need/merit-based scholarships and grants.

To help at area events, the Chamber trained nearly 150 business and community volunteers from partner organizations this September. The Chamber and campuses have held 25 events since October 1 and helped nearly 700 individuals with their FAFSA applications and counting. The Chamber’s FAFSA campaign has been active for over a decade and is part of its DTC70 Partnership with area schools and colleges aiming to improve college career readiness, affordability, and success for more area students. The effort is the first multi-chamber, multi-school district, multi-business compact to enroll 70% of graduating high school seniors directly in higher education.

As of October 7, the Austin region led the state in FAFSA filings during the first week of this financial aid cycle. As of the same day, at least 9% of Region 13 (Austin) filed the FAFSA – the highest rate in the state. The Chamber’s DTC70 partners in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, and Hutto ranked even higher, with 10.57% of high school seniors completing their FAFSA application.

As of November 4, Chamber DTC70 partners have retained the top position in Texas based on FAFSA filing. Chamber DTC70 partners have achieved a 33% filing rate, approximately eight percentage points ahead of Texas’ 25.4% filing rate.

Early FAFSA filing helps improve a student's chances of connecting with need/merit-based scholarships and grants. Completing a FAFSA also boosts chances of enrollment and degree completion. Based on data from the UT Ray Marshall Center, approximately 80% of FAFSA files successfully enroll in college, and 66% of students who complete a FAFSA and graduate college-ready complete a degree. Degree completion rates for low-income students who complete a FAFSA, and meet college readiness requirements, are 3 times higher when compared to low-income students who do not complete a FAFSA.

Students and families needing help filing a FAFSA or TASFA can sign up for upcoming events here.

Related Categories: Education and Talent