October is Career and College Success Month

October: It’s the month known for fall festivities, changing leaves, beautiful weather—and preparing for life after high school. In celebration of Career and College Success Month, Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) is highlighting special milestones on students’ journey to college.

In the DSF Future Centers, located in Denver Public Schools (DPS) high schools, seniors are working together with DSF College Advisors to scope out their post-graduation plans. From searching for scholarships to submitting applications to technical, two-year, and four-year colleges, excited seniors are taking big steps towards college enrollment this month.

Figuring out the FAFSA

DSF FAFSA workshops offer students and their families support with completing the FAFSA, while shedding light on the federal financial aid process

One crucial step towards college is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application, which helps college-intending students secure federal financial aid in order to make college affordable, is easier said than done. The FAFSA often challenges families with confusing language and technical hurdles. More than that, many families think that they might not even qualify for federal aid for their college student—a misconception which DSF is working to demystify through FAFSA workshops.

Over the next month, more than 100 DSF staff and volunteers will come together to host 16 FAFSA workshops serving seniors of all DPS high schools. These workshops offer students and their families support with completing the FAFSA, while shedding light on the federal financial aid process. Last year, through 16 workshops, DSF served 949 students and supported 739 FAFSA submissions.

Learn more about our FAFSA workshops on Mile High Living.

A day to apply to college for free

At East High School, DSF College Advisor Vinny Caricato is preparing for Colorado Free Application Day, October 15. Coordinated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education in partnership with Governor Jared Polis, Colorado Free Application Day allows students to apply with no application fees to more than 35 technical, two-year, and four-year colleges in Colorado.

Vinny says that he expects over 250 East High School seniors to apply to college as part of a Colorado Free Application Day event at the school.

“As the college application process becomes more and more complicated every year, it is important for me, as a DSF College Advisor, to help seniors navigate through the verification and decision making processes early on,” says Vinny.

Building a college-going culture through TRIO

DSF College Advisor Dalia Lopez Guzman meets with a senior in the Future Center at Montbello Campus.

At the Montbello Campus, DSF College Advisors Dalia Lopez Guzman and Obinna Onyeali are kicking off another year of DSF’s TRIO Talent Search program, which inspires and empowers first generation students to complete high school and enroll in and complete postsecondary education. The free program, which engages 9th through 12th grade students, provides program participants with academic, career, and financial aid advising as well as field trips and experiences to encourage them to pursue education beyond high school. For the 2019-2020 school year, DSF’s TRIO program is expected to serve over 1,000 students across at DPS high schools.

“We focus on students’ college and career readiness every day,” says Dalia. “Our job differs from school counselors in that we have the freedom to delve deeper into topics like financial literacy. On a fundamental level, we are a guide to help students shape their future beyond high school and overcome barriers to that future.”