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Austin Chamber, White House and First Lady Team Up to Reward Early FAFSA Filers

Posted By Greater Austin Chamber | Mar 10, 2016
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March 10, 2016, AUSTIN, TX – The Austin Chamber, in collaboration with the White House and First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, today announced a contest during SXSW for high school seniors in the Austin region designed to boost Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submission rates before priority aid deadlines.

Students who submit their FAFSA by 5 p.m. Central Time on March 14, and who prompt their peers to do the same on social media, are eligible to be entered in a contest to see the First Lady of the United States at her SXSW keynote on March 16. In total, 80 seniors will be selected from 40 local high schools – two students per school. For more information, students can visit our contest page here

First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative encourages every student in America to take charge of his or her future by pursuing a college education. The Austin Chamber of Commerce works with 13 Central Texas school districts and public charter schools to prioritize early financial aid filings so that students can afford their post-secondary pursuits.

Currently, 80 percent of students who successfully complete financial aid forms enroll in college, yet only 45 percent of high school seniors fill out financial aid forms within state or college deadlines. By filing early, students significantly boost their ability to secure funding they need to afford college.

“Filing a FAFSA early vastly improves a student’s odds to receive merit or need-based aid,” said Shaun Cranston, Austin Chamber Education Council Chair and SVP of Brookfield Residential-Texas. “We appreciate First Lady Michelle Obama's advocacy and coordination with our efforts."

Over two-thirds of available job openings in Metro Austin require either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which highlights the need for Austin’s students to matriculate into higher education.

In 2006, the Austin Chamber began its Financial Aid Saturdays program to provide a free, convenient and supportive way for high school seniors and their parents to file for college financial aid. This year, the Chamber aims to achieve just over 11,700 early fillings, which is expected to yield around $120 million in aid for students in Austin.

About the Austin Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the Austin Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for its 3,000+ members. For more information about the Austin Chamber visit


About the Reach Higher Initiative

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. In today’s economy, a high school diploma just isn’t enough. Students have to reach higher, which is why the First Lady is working to rally the country around the President’s “North Star: goal – that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. For more information about the Reach Higher initiative visit


Media Inquiries:

Michael Berman

SVP, Communications and Marketing Austin Chamber

O: 512-322-5646

C: 817-313-4745

Greater Austin Chamber

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.