State Help: Chelsea Schools Receive Grants To Aid With Federal Student Aid Applications

Special to the Record

Four Chelsea schools received state grants that will help high school seniors complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Chelsea High School received $10,320, Chelsea Opportunity Academy received $2,250, Chelsea Virtual Learning Academy received $510, and the Phoenix Academy Charter Public High School received $390 in the state grant funds.

Overall, the Healey-Driscoll Administration provided 100 Massachusetts public schools serving Gateway Cities with more than $550,000 in grants for the program.,

These grants follow an announcement that the state’s priority deadline to apply for Massachusetts financial aid via MASSGrant has been extended from May 1 to July 1, 2024. The awards are also intended to support schools amid unique nationwide challenges with this year’s FAFSA. As of April 2024, 168,489 students or prospective students in Massachusetts have completed the FAFSA, a decrease from 232,560 in April 2023.

“We want high school seniors to know that there is still time to complete the FAFSA and pursue higher education this coming fall,” said Governor Maura Healey. “These additional funds will help reach students who have yet to complete the FAFSA but who aspire to attend college and may benefit from the significant financial aid programs available in Massachusetts.”

These grants allow the state to support schools in a final push to reach seniors before they graduate, said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll.

“Students may have considered a college education but not begun or completed the FAFSA,” said Driscoll. “We know how dedicated our school counselors are to helping these students, and the Administration is working to support them through these funds and by shifting the priority deadline for state financial aid.”

The FAFSA completion grants will be issued to public high schools at which 70 percent or more of the students served are from Gateway Cities. The funds are also granted to Massachusetts high schools taking part in the federal Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program. High schools will receive grant amounts equal to $30 per 12th grader.

 “The Healey-Driscoll Administration has made historic investments in financial aid, but for many students the challenges of FAFSA completion pose barriers to accessing that aid,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “It’s not too late for high school seniors to complete the FAFSA, and these grants support schools’ ongoing efforts to help students attend college affordably in the upcoming academic year.”

The grant funds for schools are being distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. School leaders and counselors can dedicate grant money to FAFSA completion events or celebrations, and they can purchase prizes such as gifts cards and school-branded merchandise for students who complete the FAFSA or the Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA). Students who cannot complete the FAFSA due to their citizenship status should complete the MASFA.

“Students who complete the FAFSA by July 1 and qualify for need-based financial aid are guaranteed some financial support to attend college,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “We encourage students not to leave money on the table. We hope these grants will provide schools with meaningful support as they work with students who have yet to apply for financial aid, but who have the talent and drive to succeed in college.”

Along with the later statewide deadline for FAFSA completion, colleges and universities are also moving their deposit deadlines to accommodate students who have yet to apply or have not received financial aid packages that are crucial in making college-going decisions. Students should check college or university websites or reach out directly to individual campuses for information about deadlines.

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