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Why Students’ Access to Financial Aid Matters to Employers

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education distributes $120 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to more than 13 million current and aspiring college students across the country. What is the secret to unlocking this financial aid? Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), open from October 1st through June 30th for the following school year. Because financial aid is distributed on a rolling basis, the sooner a student fills out the FAFSA; the more likely they are to receive generous aid.

Currently, only 43.2% of high school seniors in eastern Washington’s Educational Service District, ESD 101, have completed their FAFSA; this is down significantly from prior years. Studies have shown that students are 84% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education if they complete a FAFSA. Access to financial aid affects more than just the student applying, it affects our entire regional economy.

But why does this matter to your business? Without this aid, many students are not able to obtain postsecondary education or training programs that equips them with essential skills needed to be successful in today’s workforce.  Local businesses will find themselves looking for talent outside of the region to fulfill the critical jobs that ensure a vital economy.

According to the Eastern region’s 2020 STEM By The Numbers Report, 82% of 32,220 jobs that pay a family wage in our region require a credential. However, current trends show that local students will only fill 11% of those jobs per year. Filling out the FAFSA is a crucial step to obtain and finance a post-secondary credential (certificate, degree, or apprenticeship). Aid is available for anyone with a household income below $250,000, which applies to 95% of Americans.

The Spokane STEM Network, housed in the Education and Talent Department at GSI, works with local community organizations, school districts, and businesses to increase the number of students completing their FAFSA. Last fall, Spokane STEM secured a grant from Washington STEM to assist the College Success Foundation (CSF) in providing ten virtual workshops to help parents and students work through their application.

GSI’s Education and Talent Alliance has made a goal to increase our region’s FASFA completion and challenges businesses to step up and support this goal. STCU answered the call to get involved and is hosting several workshops for their employees, partnering with Central Valley School District and CSF to provide information and assistance about the FASFA.

Are you interested in helping our region make sure our region has a strong talent pipeline in the future? Contact Cassidy Peterson, at cpeterson@greaterspokane.org Director of Education and Talent, today.

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