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Resources for College Access Organizations and Students During COVID-19

Author: Helios Education Foundation

April 27, 2020

In March of 2020, life came to a screeching halt for the majority of the world. No longer could most people go to work or attend class.  Sadly, for some students, the remainder of their senior year must be completed virtually and online. However, there is also something very important at stake – the continued journey of postsecondary acceptance and enrollment for students. That journey takes applications to colleges, admission, financial aid applications, and acceptance of financial aid packages. Now, all of these steps have to be done remotely. 

Fortunately, there are some organizations nationally, and in Arizona and Florida, that are keeping up with the changing times. Below is a list of resources for students, parents, and educators. 

Resources From National Organizations 

National College Attainment Network Resources 

The National College Attainment Network has a list of resources to help school districts, schools and educators help students transition through this time. Here are some of resources listed on its resources page. A full listing of resources can be accessed here. 

NCAN Guide for K-12: 5 Actions to Take Right Now to Help Seniors Transition After Graduating

The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) released a guide with five steps to help their senior class transition to a 2- or 4-year college or certificate program after high school graduation. The guide titled Immediate Next Steps for Helping High School Seniors Transition to a 2-/4-Year College or Certificate Program: 5 Actions for Districts and Schools to Take Right Now highlights practices that should be very familiar to college success professionals: 

- Conduct a senior exit survey now.

- Focus on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion.

- Decode financial aid offers and compare costs.

- Navigate decision deadlines.

- Combat summer melt.

Each of the five sections includes questions that district and school personnel should ask themselves as well as their colleagues and partners involved with college and career readiness, key next steps to take, and a curated list of the best resources to complete the step.

Pivoting to Virtual Advising? Things to Consider

Connecting with students and families, earning their trust, and helping them understand an unfamiliar process is what creates success in the college access and success field. But Coronavirus has created a barrier to creating these connections through traditional means, and many may be considering how to work using digital tools like teleconferencing, webinars, etc. There is evidence to help guide professionals in navigating the virtual advising space.

In this blog post, NCAN highlights several useful resources to consider when moving advising to a virtual environment. The post shares data, trends, and how some organizations have been using virtual advising practices - some of which may be replicable locally. Read the full article here

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Resources

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Coronavirus (COVID-19) Web Center

NASFAA created a web center to keep members and the financial aid community updated on pertinent news related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This web center is updated daily with new items. The center includes articles, webinars, podcasts, and Q & As on a variety of topics related to financial aid. 

Resources in Arizona 

Ask Benji 

Benji is a chatbot that draws from a large database to answer your questions about FAFSA and financial aid. Benji doesn’t talk, only texts. Benji was created to help more students and families in Arizona achieve a college education through completing a FAFSA. 

All students and families have to do to begin chatting with Benji is text 602-786-8171. More information is available at https://www.askbenji.org/

Be A Leader Foundation 

Students looking for assistance with the FAFSA, College Application or next steps to complete college enrollment can complete a student assistance form from the Be A Leader Foundation (BALF). A team member will reach out via email within 24 hours and BALF will then set-up an virtual appointment using Zoom, Google Hangouts or even a regular phone call to help answer questions. 

The form is accessible at https://www.tfaforms.com/4811312

Be A Leader Foundation Webinars 

BALF also hosts numerous webinars for students on many topics related to college success. Topics include budget and savings, tips for online classes, and one specifically for this time college motivation during quarantine. Check out the full list here:  

http://www.bealeaderfoundation.org/resources/

Resources in Florida 

Florida College Access Network COVID-19 Resources 

The Florida College Access Network has created a central repository of all information related to COVID-19 the Network shares via blogs. This catch-all page has numerous blog posts about topics important to students and educators. Topics include ACT, SAT, and AP test, and CLEP resources, the impact of the CARES Act on education in Florida, supporting students facing homelessness or housing insecurity, and new federal student aid guidelines for students, parents and borrowers. 

http://floridacollegeaccess.org/tag/covid-19/

It is our hope that this list of resources provides a well-rounded list of resources for students, families, and educators to navigate how to access resources and ensure students remain on track toward postsecondary enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic. If there are any resources, we may have missed, please feel free to email us at info@helios.org so we can add it to this list. 

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