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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Alabama group works to increase college access with summer support

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Friday, May 31, 2024   

Advocates for higher education in Alabama are mobilizing to ensure students have the support they need for federal student aid applications this summer.

Delays in the release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid have left many college-bound students in limbo about their financial aid eligibility.

Chandra Scott, executive director of the nonprofit Alabama Possible, said only about 42% of high school seniors applied for FAFSA this year, down sharply from 2023.

"That's still, yes, going in the right direction," Scott acknowledged. "But there's a lot of students who are still left behind, when that's really a 23% decline compared to last year. So, there's still a lot of work to be done."

Scott explained issues like the FAFSA's delayed rollout, technical glitches and slower college responses contributed to the challenges. Some parents even opted out of completing the FAFSA to avoid delaying their children's graduation. Despite these hurdles, Alabama ranks 16th in the nation for FAFSA completion.

With summer approaching, Scott pointed out many students will not have their school guidance counselors to lean on, but she wants families to know it isn't too late to start the application process, and help will be available throughout the state.

"We want to tell those students and those families you can still go back and complete the FAFSA, even though you completed the waiver," Scott emphasized. "Do not forget that is still a possibility."

Scott outlined plans to support students over the summer. She explained Alabama Possible is ramping up partnerships with counselors and career coaches, increasing outreach, and offering assistance through its Alabama Goes to College help desk and text message system.

"We have team members who are very well in depth of knowledge on how to complete those questions and really get them to support they need to complete it," Scott noted. "When you do reach out to us, you are getting an actual person to support you through that process."

She added help is available to students and families statewide, including for returning college students who may have questions about the FAFSA. Nationwide, just over 40% of students have completed their FAFSA, a nearly 16% drop from 2023.

Disclosure: Alabama Possible contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Education, Poverty Issues, and Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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