The Latest News from College Success Arizona — February 2020

| February 25, 2020

By College Success Arizona


February 2020
Focusing on the students: Creating impactful Promise Programs
By: Rich Nickel,President and CEO, College Success Arizona
Access to reliable financial aid is a crucial aspect in making college accessible and affordable to students. This is important if Arizona is to reach its aggressive postsecondary attainment goals and create a highly skilled workforce to drive the economy into the future. 
Except for aid provided at the discretion of individual institutions, today the state’s most financially needy students rely almost solely on federal aid like Pell Grants, Work Study, and Federal Student Loans identified through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Arizona is one of a handful of states that does not have a meaningful state-sponsored need-based grant aid program.
That could change, depending on the fate of three “promise” or “opportunity” scholarship bills that are being considered by the Arizona State Legislature.
Opportunities with AdviseAZ
AdviseAZ has assisted more than 1,800 individuals in navigating the college-going process with the help of near-peer college advisors. This AmeriCorps model gives college students and recent college graduates the training and tools needed to empower high school students achieve their postsecondary goals. Advisers interact on a daily basis with students and families in their assigned high school or college to provide relevant information about postsecondary education and financial aid processes.
AdviseAZ is looking for interested college students or recent college graduates and potential college or high school sites across Arizona to serve low-income and first-generation college-going students in their local community for the 2020-21 academic year. This position requires a commitment to an AmeriCorps term of service. If interested in becoming a member or hosting a member, please contact Marissa Bachler.
Benji, how can I help increase FAFSA engagement among my students?
Since Oct. 2019, Benji, a chatbot that answers individuals FAFSA and Financial Aid question, has had more than 160,000 text message exchanges and upward of 12,000 users around the state. Benji’s ‘brain,’ a database of more than 700 FAFSA and Financial Aid topics, is constantly learning and expanding with a small team of humans ‘teaching’ the bot new understandings, new facts, and new answers. This tool is free for students and there is no cost for schools to partner with Benji. So far, sixteen school districts have partnered with Benji to bring additional support to their students and families. For more information about how to bring this tool to your school or district, please contact Benji’s team or visit
Register for The Rural College Access & Success Summit and its Regional Tour
College Success Arizona and Partners for Education at Berea college will be co-hosting the Rural College Access & Success Summit, which brings together the education community together to share ideas and strategies for ensuring that rural youth have the opportunity to successfully transition from high school to college and career. There are opportunities to attend, be an exhibitor or sponsor the event.
The day after the summit we are hosting a one-day tour in rural Arizona. It will start at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood where attendees will be hearing from the school’s administration about what they’re doing to move the needle on student achievement. Participants will then head to Sedona to roam the city’s downtown and treat themselves to lunch before we head back to Scottsdale. Register here.
Rhiannon Lewis has faced many hardships in her life, including going through the foster care system. However, instead of resenting her experiences, she used them to inspire her.
Now she is studying Aerospace Engineering at Arizona State University and using her education to help others who are facing hardships.


Category: Advocacy, Education

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