SCHS wins division of Race to Submit, a contest enforcing financial aid applications

Santa Clara High School recently participated in a statewide contest called Race to Submit, which was held from October 2017 to March 2018. The contest was created to encourage students to apply for financial aid, potentially helping them pay for college.

Last Thursday, SCHS Principal Gregory Shelby and College & Career Resource Technician Anthony Butler attended a ceremony in Sacramento to honor SCHS and 34 other schools for being among the top schools in the state with the highest percentage of submitted financial aid applications.

Low completion rates of the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application (CADAA)- which allows students to apply for financial aid- inspired the California Student Aid Commission to create the Race to Submit campaign. Their website states their aim is to “motivate California high schools and districts to increase application count by supporting their students with FAFSA and CADAA submission.”

SCHS won first place in the division for high schools with a senior population of 326-500. According to Shelby, this recognition for financial aid sign-ups was made possible by the combined efforts of students and staff, as well as the work of Butler.

“We want to make sure that they hear it more than once, so as it gets to the time, they’re aware that there are more opportunities,” Butler said.

Butler’s goal since he started working at SCHS is to ensure high school students are on the right track for college. According to Butler, he tries to raise awareness through outreach opportunities like the Cash for College Program, and Financial Aid Nights. Shelby believes that reaching out to students through these programs is crucial so they get the help they need.

“Grades and getting in the right rigorous classes are even more important,” Shelby said. “But if you forget the details like Financial Aid, then you don’t fulfill the equation that could help you with college.”

By giving seniors the opportunity to reduce tuition, they can apply to college and have the chance to save money, which is crucial given the overwhelming debt college students must bear. According to Butler, he and the rest of the SCHS staff want to emphasize the importance of students getting the help they need.

“I think that we realized that we have some really driven students who want to go to college but don’t have the funds to go,” Butler said. “I think by remembering that someone talked to them about financial aid will help them realize they can apply.”