With the average student loan debt at more than $37,000 in 2016, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has committed to helping students gain the financial aid they need.
The chamber is kicking off a campaign Friday to provide school counselors, staffers and community partners with information and materials on the application process for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The event is from 1-2:30 p.m. at Austin Community College’s Highland campus, 5930 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin.
Ensuring students are able to enroll at a college or university is vital to the business community, said Drew Scheberle, the chamber’s senior vice president for advocacy and policy.
“There’s never been a bigger premium to having a college degree in Central Texas,” he said. “More than 60 percent of open jobs require an associate or bachelor’s degree.”
For the past 10 years, the chamber has partnered with Austin ISD on a campaign to encourage college-bound students to complete the FAFSA, which determines their eligibility for merit-, academic- or needs-based scholarships and other financial aid programs. Scheberle said the chamber’s campaign effort has yielded a FAFSA submission rate that is 20 percent higher than any other region in the state.
Other chamber partners include Hays CISD, Leander ISD, Pflugerville ISD and Round Rock ISD as well as KIPP, Harmony and NYOS charter school systems.
More information about FAFSA and upcoming events for students and families is available at www.financialaidsaturdays.com.