Tools:

Put College Within Your Students’ Reach...

USA Funds, the nonprofit administrator of College Goal Sunday, is pleased to announce a new grant that will support EduCash in-kind services to help low- and moderate-income schools increase federal FAFSA completion rates, increase scholarships and build a college-going culture within their schools.

Why:

The FAFSA puts college within reach for low-income students. Sadly, if they had only completed the FAFSA, more than 850,000 low-income students would have discovered that they were eligible for a Pell grant. But for those students who file the FAFSA, nine in ten are motivated enough by the aid to go on to college. That can help build a college- and career-ready culture for the rest of the school and increase parent engagement. And it’s why the U.S. Department of Education has made raising school FAFSA rates a priority.

What:

With an EduCash grant, each school annually receives:
  1. A customized, best practice plan to keep everyone on track to reach your FAFSA completion and other school improvement goals.
  2. Expert professional development coaching to equip your staff to succeed.
  3. Customizable tools and materials to simplify all your school’s improvement activities.
  4. Real-time reporting to enable data-driven decisions.
  5. EduCash awards and incentives to motivate students and staff.
  6. Proven results in college and career readiness and parent engagement.
  7. Professional recognition for your school with reports of students helped, aid dollars earned & school improvements achieved.

How:

High schools or their partnering college access programs apply. Grant winners are announced within 45 days. In September, monthly online professional development starts. EduCash coaches work with local school and community groups to customize the best practice plan to achieve their FAFSA goals. Participating local school and program staff get tools and materials to run the program through the year from free tax assistance to family engagement campaigns to awards. They get ideas and advice from other schools raising their rates in the EduCash learning community. As the year progresses, they get regular coaching to maximize outcomes. They receive quantitative reporting of all school improvement achievements. Schools making adequate progress can continue to work with the program to increase their results in future years.

Who:

EduCash is run by EduGuide, an award-winning nonprofit that helped set a national record for increasing low-income FAFSA rates. It’s led by coaches like by Becky Powell, a former college financial aid director and student financial aid association president. Grant funding has been generously provided by USA Funds, a nonprofit corporation headquartered in Indianapolis that works to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success by providing and supporting financial and other valued services. For more information about USA Funds, visit www.usafunds.org.

Matching:

For the 2013-14 school year, the grant covers 87% of the $7,500 per school cost for EduCash professional development, ongoing coaching, online tools and program materials. Each school contributes only $1,000 for their share of costs.

Results:

EduCash delivers measurable school improvement on the FAFSA rate using best practice strategies and tools.

FAQ:

What is expected of EduCash Grantees?

EduCash Grantees are expected to participate in online training and coaching once a month during the program. They customize how they will implement EduCash Best Practice Strategies working with their local partners. To facilitate collaboration, they are required to share with their EduCash Coach, the school principal and their local program partners reports on their progress. Failure to meet basic requirements will result in the inability to renew the annual grant.

What is EduGuide looking for in EduCash grantees?

We’re looking for schools and college access partners who want to be a national model. EduCash can help students reach college who wouldn’t go otherwise, but its success depends on local school and program leaders who are committed to working together to take pro-active steps to implement best practices. We only work with schools where that commitment is clearly demonstrated. And while the program is open to anyone, we’re especially looking for schools where we can make a larger difference based on need.

When does the EduCash program run?

September - May

Can a program apply to serve multiple schools?

Yes and you'll need to supply the baseline data and contact info for each school. You can do that by just clicking the button at the end of the application to add the info for the next school.

How does EduCash relate to College Goal Sunday and the federal FAFSA Completion Project?

EduCash is a separate nonprofit program. It's is designed to reinforce rather than replace other FAFSA efforts. For Completion Project schools, it gives them practical ways to turn the FAFSA data they receive into action items. For College Goal Sunday, it targets specific schools with year around programming that not only gets more students to attend FAFSA events, but keeps working to reach those who don't.

How does the matching funds requirement work?

If approved for the grant, the applicant only needs to pay for the $1,000 per school matching amount to participate in the program.

For the application, how does the school commitment letter work and who can sign it?

We've provided a sample letter that you can simply print out and sign. The letter is designed to ensure that the program will act as a true partnership with clear commitment from everyone to raise FAFSA rates. It can be signed by a principal, assistant principal or superintendent who is authorized to commit the school to actively participate in the program.

Do I need the school commitment letter before I apply?

No, but you’ll have a limited window to return to your application and upload it. Be sure to save the link and add it promptly. We can only serve a limited number of schools.

Who can run the EduCash program?

A school, college or other nonprofit agency. One person takes the lead as the local EduCash Director and recruits partners for their local EduCash Board of Advisors. That's typically either a school staff person or else someone at a college or nonprofit college access group that sponsors the program at the school.

What does a program need to be successful?

Commitment to take action from the school and its partners. EduCash is about taking new steps at the school to put college within students reach. You don't get new results by doing the same old things. EduCash succeeds when there is a strong local leader for the program, working with a circle of other people committed to doing the plan they adopt as part of the EduCash process. We'll coach them to success and give them the training, strategies and tools they need to succeed.

Who should the local EduCash Director be?

Someone committed to implementing the plan who can work well with others to get it done and coordinate details. Often that's a college access worker staff person, counselor or other staff person who can give an average of one-hour per week to improving the school’s results.

Who should serve on the local EduCash program Board of Advisors?

The Board structure is designed to create a mutually accountable partnership between the people who can help more students succeed. At a minimum that should include a principle, a counselor and a local college financial aid officer. It could also include someone from a community based organization, a parent group a student group, businesses or other funders. But don’t worry, this isn’t the kind of Board that requires taking minutes and making motions. All you have to do is plug in their email addresses and you can add to your Board at any time.

What is the time commitment for staff participating in the program?

Each program is different in the way people share the work, but it averages about an hour a week for the local EduCash Director. January and February are busier. The local leader will participate in online training for about an hour each month and get coaching as needed beyond that to help them achieve their goals. Other people on the Board of Advisors will offer advice and choose at least one thing that they can help on.

Can I customize the program?

Yes, it's designed to be tailored to the local school and its needs. We'll work with you to do that. You can also customize your program name and materials such as UM-Inkster EduCash.

More questions?

Call us at 1-800-832-2464 or email us.

Testimonials:

I love being able to share resources and advice on the EduCash website. We’ve used the EduCash goals to get our seniors engaged in creating publicity campaigns.
Amy Derrer, Communities in Schools of Mancelona
EduCash is cool. The counselors were really excited about the goals and creative ideas. Our numbers were a little scary to start but they’re looking better now.
Seth Anderson College Advising Corp at Belding High
Our EduCash Bash was a huge success.
Kanika Seyoum, Albion High School

Apply for EduCash Grant