SCUSD’s FAFSA and Cal Grant Completion/Award Rates Outperform County Average

e-Connections Post

Sacramento City Unified School District helps connect more of its students to the Cal Grant and other forms of federal, state and campus-based financial aid, according to data recently released by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). The District credits its connect rates to the creation of a new monitoring tool and partnership formed with CSAC to keep track of District students that may need additional support in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and California Dream Act Application (CADAA).    

California Student Aid Commission data from 2018 and 2019 shows that Sac City Unified has outperformed the average Sacramento County school district in the number of students submitting the FAFSA and CADAA, as well as the number of Cal Grant applications and awards received. According to CSAC’s data, in 2018 and 2019, Sac City Unified:

  • Outperformed the county average for number of FAFSA/CA Dream Act applications completed (60% in 2018 and 58% in 2019; compared to the county average of 51% in 2018 & 2019)
  • Outperformed the county average for number of Cal Grant applications completed (58% in 2018 and 57% in 2019; compared to the county average of 49% and 50%)
  • Outperformed the county average for number of Cal Grant awards received (60% in 2018 and 57% in 2019; compared to the county average of 51% and 49%)

“The data show our targeted efforts to help students and their families complete the FAFSA and other financial aid applications is working and our staff deserve the credit,” said Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. The FAFSA monitoring tool that District staff created in partnership with CSAC provides them the ability to see which students have completed the FAFSA and which students still need support. It also identifies students that have completed the FAFSA but have errors that need to be fixed. The tool allows District staff to intervene with students in a timely manner before various FAFSA deadlines. 

In the past two years, the District has also launched various initiatives focused on connecting students to financial aid and higher education. For example, the District sends every high school senior a college eligibility package in the Fall. The package contains information on California colleges and universities that are a good match for the student based on their academic profile, as well as information on financial aid and how to apply. The District also hosts a series of “Cash for College” workshops at its five comprehensive high schools, providing free internet access, free computer access and trained volunteers to assist families with their applications. These initiatives are fueled by Sacramento City Unified’s innovative partnership with the University of California.   

Over the past two years, students in the District have earned $10.4 million in Cal Grants and approximately $12 million in Pell Grants, for a combined $22.4 Million in free money for college for over 2,000 SCUSD seniors. In addition, the California Student Opportunities and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) has granted over $100,000 in public/private partnership scholarship funds to 39 District college-bound seniors.

“These are exactly the kinds of innovative student-centered efforts that help make college dreams a reality,” said SCUSD Board President Jessie Ryan. “This is equity in action and the district will continue to work hard to promote these and other efforts to help all students succeed.”