Background: In recent years over 20 million individuals annually turn to the services provided by the public workforce system. Many of these individuals are seeking new careers in growing industries or attempting to identify the training and education necessary to advance within an established career pathway. Through AJCs and online/virtual tools, the public workforce system provides an array of services and supports to these individuals ranging from Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded career services and training. Building on this array of services, WIOA Section 134(c)(2)(A)(xi) identified the additional role for the workforce system of providing its customers assistance with establishing eligibility for programs of financial aid assistance for training and education programs that are not funded under WIOA.
Resources: Starting on October 1, individuals can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access the $180 billion investments available for higher education during the 2017-2018 school year. Statistically bachelor’s degree recipients earn $1 million more in their lifetime compared to high school graduates. Likewise, education can serve as a pathway to the middle class. However, many individuals assume they are ineligible for financial aid and never complete a FAFSA. To assist the workforce system provide their customers with the most accessible information on higher education, FAFSA, and the new College Scorecard, we are providing several resources for both workforce system staff and customers:
- Training and Employment Guidance Letter 8-16, Supporting Unemployment Insurance Beneficiaries Seeking Postsecondary Education or Training provides policies, strategies, and resources that support UI beneficiaries seeking postsecondary education and training opportunities, including longer-term training and education programs.
- The new College Scorecard provides the first comprehensive data on costs and student outcomes at many postsecondary institutions in the United States. Now, students can search for the earnings of the students who attended an institution and the quality of the education provided.
- The Department of Education’s Financial Aid Toolkit provides Federal student aid information and outreach tools for counselors, college access professionals, nonprofit mentors, and others. Staff providing career and training services to workforce system customers are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with these resources to help inform their education and career counseling.
- The Financial Aid Toolkit includes a downloadable flyer with additional information about the FAFSA and the College Scorecard. Videos on FAFSA completion and the College Scorecard are also available. AJCs are encouraged to consider posting and distributing this flier and other FAFSA and College Scorecard information at their local offices, websites, and through its routine mailings and outreach to customers.
- The First Lady’s Up Next texting tool provides advising for FAFSA completion, the college search, and student debt repayment. Customers may text COLLEGE to 44044 to get to access step-by-step support and additional information.
Completing the FAFSA may mean the difference between going to, and completing, college or not. Thank you for your partnership and for sharing information about opportunities available to support education and skills-building with your staff and customers.