Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email “I just want to say one thing: have a positive mind. Fill out the FAFSA. There is nothing to be afraid of. It is free money you are getting.” – Quote from Rashid from Columbus, Ohio. The Kresge Foundation today launched FAFSAStories.org, a digital story bank featuring the voices of 22 students who graduated from high school in 2017 and went to college this fall with some federal support due to a successful FAFSA filing. FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form students can fill out annually to apply for monetary support for higher education, including Pell grants or work-study programs. The FAFSA unlocks billions of dollars in federal support and has high correlation rates to college enrollment, but in the 2016-2017 school year, only 61 percent of eligble students filed a FAFSA. The 2017-2018 FAFSA season begins Oct. 1. Students who participated in FAFSAStories.org came from across the U.S. and each received at least a partial Pell Grant through filing a FAFSA. The story bank features students who went to high school in 15 of the cities that won grants through the Kresge FAFSA Completion Challenge. Each student interviewed received support, including full Pell grants, despite overcoming common challenges to filing such as homelessness, immigration status issues, missing documents, verification, or resistant parents. “So often, FAFSA is portrayed as a headache or inconvenience,” said Bill Moses, managing director of the Education Program at The Kresge Foundation. “In reality, it can take students less than an hour to complete and can then help them get thousands of dollars in support for college. We wanted to have students speak directly to students, explaining how they overcame issues or fears and got the form in.” The site features advice directly from the students and a sorting tool to help users find stories by college type, gender or what kind of advice it contains. Kresge worked with social good communications firm Wonder: Strategies for Good to develop the story bank. The firm worked directly with the 22 grantees in the awarded cities in the FAFSA Completion Challenge cohort to identify students who had compelling and relatable FAFSA experiences. The FAFSA Completion Challenge encouraged cities to work across their localities to improve FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percent. The Challenges includes $300,000 in prizes to the cities who raised FAFSA rates and numbers the most, or who used the most innovative practices to spur greater levels of completion. Those awards will be announced Wednesday at the National College Access Network Conference in San Diego. Read the stories at FAFSAstories.org.