Empowering High School Students with Financial Literacy through FAFSA Champion Status

Youth Power, a component of the Family Power brand, is a platform that connects and educates high school students and their parents on financial literacy and wealth building. As part of its advocacy, the program recognizes the value of pursuing college education, and it highlights Unicoi County High School as a FAFSA Champion for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation awarded Unicoi County High School as a FAFSA Champion for its outstanding performance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The designation is granted to schools that have improved their Tennessee Promise FAFSA completion rate by 5% or more from the previous year or have exceeded the 90% completion rate.

Completing the FAFSA is a critical first step in making college plans and succeeding, especially before the Tennessee Promise deadline. Every eligible Tennessee high school senior is given an opportunity to receive thousands of dollars in state and federal financial aid. By achieving the FAFSA Champion status, Unicoi County High School commits to college access and emphasizes the importance of college and career exploration.

The Ayers Foundation Scholars Program is instrumental in assisting students in their college journey. This program provides full-time, trained advisors who serve as coaches, guides, and technical and emotional supporters to students from the 8th grade through their post-secondary experience and beyond. The program’s counselors at Unicoi County High School, Jessie Sutherland and Guillermo Mendoza, together with Ayers Scholars’ financial aid assistant, Mindi Sparks, worked with families to reach their FAFSA completion goals. The group attended school events such as sporting events, parent information talks, registration nights, or any event where students and parents would be present. This boosted engagement, gave parents the chance to ask questions, and increased the likelihood of achieving the FAFSA completion goals.

Filing a FAFSA is the first step students must take to apply for most state and federal financial aid for college. Completing the FAFSA has a direct correlation with enrollment in higher education, persistence in college coursework, and obtaining a degree. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation offer resources for students and schools to navigate the FAFSA process successfully. This assistance includes step-by-step FAFSA-filing instructions and videos for students, while guides for high schools help strengthen their FAFSA completion.

High school seniors and their families should file the FAFSA before March 1 to remain eligible for up to two years of tuition-free college with Tennessee Promise. Youth Power encourages students and parents to take advantage of the program’s resources and to take the necessary steps to achieve financial literacy and build wealth.

All rights reserved.