The Center Provides Ongoing FAFSA Support

May 10, 2024

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a process that nearly all students experience as they pursue postsecondary education, and a requirement to receive most financial aid. While the FAFSA often feels overwhelming, the 2024-25 version posed its own challenges when major changes were implemented.

Typically, students would have made their final college decision by May 1. This year, many schools extended their enrollment deadlines to account for FAFSA delays and technical difficulties.

Here at the Emily K Center, we are acutely aware of how this affects students. Game Plan: College’s FAFSA Night in January brought over 85 families to the Center. The majority of attendees were unable to complete the FAFSA initially, due to platform glitches and issues with account creation for those without a social security number.

In spite of these challenges, Emily K Center staff have collaboratively helped students complete their forms by offering free group sessions, workshops, and one-on-one advising for any high school student in Durham.

“We strive to provide support and guidance as families navigate the world of postsecondary education,” says Christina Villegas, Director of Postsecondary Access with the Game Plan: College program. “More than 110 students have completed at least a portion of their FAFSA at the Emily K Center. We are proud to play a small part in their academic journey and help them take that next step towards their goals.”

Javier is a senior at Jordan High School and dual-enrolled at Durham Tech under the associate of science pathway program. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or finance, with the intention of owning his own construction business. He made an appointment with Game Plan: College to help with his college application and the FAFSA.

Javier shared, “I was totally clueless about stuff like the CSS profile and FAFSA. But thanks to Game Plan: College, I didn’t have to stress about it alone. They broke it down for me and my family, guiding us through every step of the process. I seriously can’t thank them enough for lightening the load and making everything feel manageable”

Javier’s older sibling, Deyanira, is part of the Scholars on Campus program and simultaneously worked with Emily K Center staff to complete her forms. It took 8 sessions through Game Plan: College and Scholars on Campus to support their family in accurately completing the FAFSA for both students.

Many are still in the throes of FAFSA and the completion rate across the country has decreased at an alarming rate of 40% since 2023. Still, it has been rewarding to walk alongside families as they complete this important milestone and start planning for their future. The Emily K Center is here to help students thrive and we are grateful for a community that trusts in us and supports our work.