As you know from following HawaiiKidsCAN, we’re committed to ensuring all keiki have access to excellent educational opportunities, regardless of financial circumstances. We also aren’t afraid to tackle big, complex challenges through our blend of policy change and community-based innovations.
That is why we are excited to announce the HawaiiKidsCAN Afford College campaign, which is a five year effort to take on the significant issue of college affordability. Thanks to the generous start-up support of the Stupski Foundation and the HEI Charitable Foundation, as well as the partnership of Paʻakai Communications, we’ve been steadily growing momentum over the past eight months. Given that Hawaii students and families are currently leaving $12 million on the table in government financial aid each year, we’re fired up move the needle for students, and we can’t wait to share more with you on a regular basis and offer opportunities to get involved.
To help families, schools, and community members more easily engage with our campaign, we’ve launched affordcollegehi.com and social media accounts @affordcollegehi on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Free financial literacy courses
Our team is deeply grateful for the partnership of American Savings Bank, as they have enabled us to offer student access to the EVERFI online learning platform, a tool that has helped provide an immediate, broad scope to the reach of our campaign and the resources available to students. EVERFI’s platform is a user-friendly and low barrier way to give students and families access to free financial literacy and FAFSA support courses. Our interest in asynchronous supports was fueled by feedback from counselors, students and parents. A common challenge with traditional programming is the time commitment required for many FAFSA support sessions, and difficulty with coordinating schedules that work for both parents and schools.
We are proud to offer access to all local students via our affordcollegehi.com, and we’ve been specifically working with counselors at three partner schools to encourage participation: James Campbell High School, Lanai High and Elementary School, and Kamaile Academy. We’ve brought a QR code that links directly to our EVERFI registration to events such as the Hawaii State PTSA annual convention and Celebrate Micronesia Festival.
Student and family voice
In addition to the initial launch of our social media platforms, HawaiiKidsCAN is continuing to develop a robust media campaign that includes the voices and perspectives of current high school students, with a focus on voices that tend to be underrepresented in discussions around college. With the partnership and expertise of Upstream Hawaii, we recently completed the taping of a public service announcement (PSA) and interviews with 12 students and one parent at Pearl City High School, which served as a learning opportunity for students within the school’s media academy. Additionally, our team worked with two classes of students taking a media course at JCHS to record and produce their own PSAs, which feature students’ own unique take on college affordability. To ensure our media campaign is relatable and draws in the wide array of students who need to hear our messaging, we ensured a range of diverse student influencers from valedictorians to athletes were included in the tapings.
Share your thoughts
As we continue to gather diverse perspectives as part of the campaign, we encourage students, parents, and community members to take our short survey.
With so much happening in this area of policy, we’ll be sharing out the latest research and developments from around the country. Here are a few to get you going:
- Read this Brookings article to better understand how the total cost of college affects different income levels and some of the intrinsic problems with college pricing.
- Read this article by U-Aspire to better understand universal FAFSA policies in individual states and how students’ access to and completion of FAFSA impacts college-going rates.
- Check out this brief by the Urban Institute that highlights how a universal FAFSA policy in Texas positively impacted students, particularly low-income students.
- This article by the National College Attainment Network describes Indiana’s legislation to mandate FAFSA completion for graduation, and recommendations for other states considering similar policies.
- Another National College Attainment Network article describes provides profiles of four different states with universal FAFSA policies.
- This Advance CTE article dives deep into the Arkansas Career Coach program, a strategic approach to investing into college access through people and college counseling.
- Read this NCES report for a deep, clear understanding of how counselors can help students have better access to financial aid for college.