What we do: LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network is a network of partners from Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties representing business, education, philanthropy and government working together to help students of all ages succeed in education beyond high school. Our ultimate goal is to have 60% of adults hold a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 so they can improve their lives and be ready for the workplace opportunities available in Tampa Bay’s thriving local economy.
LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network partners with public schools and local colleges to increase the number of students who have access to education and training after high school, through completion of federal and state financial aid forms such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Research has shown that completing the FAFSA is the best single predictor of a student’s intent to go to college, so LEAP FAFSA volunteers are recruited and trained to help students and their families navigate the financial aid process.
What you can do: Complete the online training video (about half an hour) which takes you through the form and answers common questions about it. Then, sign up to attend day-time, evening or weekend FAFSA Completion events at local high schools. They are usually held in the school’s media center. There, you will connect with students and their parents as well as other volunteers and educational professionals who can help you if you have questions.
Volunter Position Description
As a LEAP Volunteer, you will help students complete the FAFSA, the first step in gaining financial aid for post-secondary education. You will be working with high school students, leading them step by step through the process.
You will be going to high schools in Hillsborough and Pinellas County to help these students fill out the FAFSA during scheduled FAFSA Completion events.
Purpose of the Position
LEAP Volunteers help high school students complete the first step of the financial aid process. Once the FAFSA is complete, students learn the amount of Pell Grant dollars from the Federal Government for which they qualify. In 2017/2018 LEAP Volunteers helped increase the number of completed FAFSA student financial aid applications, increasing local student grants by an estimated $3 million.
Responsibilities and Duties
After watching an online training video on FAFSA completion, volunteers register with the school district (Hillsborough or Pinellas) as a volunteer. This will give you access to the campus events. Then, you check the schedule of events and register as a volunteer for the dates, times and locations that are convenient for you.
You need to be good at working with others. Communication is very important when it comes to working with these students and parents.
Training and registration will take about an hour. The FAFSA completion events generally last two hours. We ask volunteers to commit to at least three FAFSA Completion events which are usually on week-day evenings but may be during the day or on a weekend. on some weekends to go to the schools.
Watching the brief video explaining the FAFSA and common questions with answers will prepare you to help these students and parents. There are also practice FAFSAs available.