Bill DeBaun, National College Attainment Network
Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! As school staff and students file into classrooms across the country, it’s a time of promise, potential, and, sometimes, problems that need to get sorted out. Seniors starting their final year of high school will need to figure out their postsecondary plans in no time, and freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all have college and career milestones they can be working toward.
It’s good to keep these three truths in mind now at the start of the year:
- It’s also one of the busiest times of year for school personnel.
- High school seniors have a scant 10 months before graduation and a lot of advising to receive and activities to complete before then.
- Keeping all of these in mind, it’s good to highlight the tools and tactics that can promote postsecondary readiness for this year’s seniors, the class of 2024.
NCAN has a 15-month college and career readiness calendar that helps K-12 districts, schools, and the partners who work with them plan ahead and find the best resources to support their college and career readiness work. The interactive resource provides a series of college and career readiness activities sortable by time of year and category (data, financial aid/FAFSA, etc.). It’s also available in PDF form.
There’s no need to strictly follow every step and activity in the calendar, but it’s a good reference to keep in mind as the year progresses. College and career readiness activities have a lifecycle, and it’s good to know when to plan and execute them. Only interested in financial aid activities? Filter down to those and go for it from there. More worried about the winter than the fall? You can filter down to that, too.
Want more school-focused resources? Check out NCAN’s K-12 Resources page!
One big difference in this coming academic year is that the FAFSA is changing. The revamped FAFSA, which Federal Student Aid is calling the “Better FAFSA,” will expand eligibility for financial aid to many more students but also require districts and schools to change some of what they’ve done before.
One key thing to know: the FAFSA will not open on October 1 and will be delayed until sometime in December.
The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) is maintaining as many resources as possible related to the Better FAFSA, including training opportunities, FAQs, and more.
Now is the time to start planning for the Better FAFSA’s arrival later this year. Talk with your colleagues and make them aware of the forthcoming changes. Then plan to learn more through an NCAN training webinar! Whatever FAFSA assistance workshops and advising sessions you were planning for October and November should be pushed back to December (depending on opening date) and January.
NCAN will be sending out monthly reminder emails aimed at helping districts and schools prepare for the Better FAFSA. Anyone can subscribe to this newsletter!
May and June commencement ceremonies will somehow still be here before we know it, same as it ever was. The resources above hopefully provide a jumpstart to the academic year that can help students make their best choices around their postsecondary pathways.