By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin joined Birmingham Promise, Inc. last week to announce resources to help seniors and their families in Birmingham City Schools (BCS) complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms ahead of a March 1 deadline.
Birmingham City Schools students graduating in May must apply for Birmingham Promise and complete a FAFSA form by March 1 to be part of the tuition assistance program.
The Birmingham Promise makes college affordable and accessible for students in Birmingham City Schools. Through the program students are eligible to have college costs covered at any public two-year or four-year school in the state. Due to disruptions in the school year from the coronavirus pandemic, FAFSA applications are currently down nationwide.
“I understand that the pandemic has limited the flow of information for many students and parents but it’s important to know that aid and assistance is available,” Woodfin said. “We cannot let the circumstances of the pandemic dim the bright futures our students deserve.”
Birmingham Promise Executive Director Rachel Harmon said individual, virtual family FAFSA sessions will take place throughout this month to provide assistance in completing the forms before the deadline.
“We want to help simplify the filing process for students and their families,” Harmon said. “We encourage parents to attend these sessions. Each session provides one hour with trained staff. That time is an important investment in our students’ futures.”
Lindsey Williams, a BCS parent, said her daughter has benefitted from the Promise, and encouraged families to apply as soon as possible.
Williams said her daughter applied for FAFSA and has already been accepted into three colleges in the state of Alabama. “I am encouraging all parents, if you haven’t yet, please assist your child filling out the FAFSA,” Williams said. “All children need to fill this out in order to know how they can become financially able to go to college . . . [Birmingham Promise] allows them the opportunity to believe that college is a possibility without worrying about a financial burden on parents.”
John Collins, a 2020 graduate of Ramsay High School and a freshman at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) majoring in electrical engineering, also encouraged students to apply.
“As a lifelong product of this city, I really appreciate everything the Promise has done for me. It’s definitely an assurance to myself, my family and my peers that the Promise sees the value within us,” he said.
Students and parents can sign up for an individual family session online at http://bit.ly/fafsasessions or call 205-843-5967 to make an appointment. Applicants can also attend virtual weekly sessions for Frequently Asked Questions at http://bit.ly/promisefaqs21. The weekly FAQ sessions begin Tues., February 9
To complete a FAFSA form, a student will need:
- Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen)
- Federal income tax returns, W-2s and other records of money earned
- Bank statements and records of investment (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable_
- A Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to sign electronically
Dependent students will need most of the above information from their parent(s).
Birmingham Promise funds will be awarded after a student has completed their financial aid file and all other public aid is awarded.
For more information, visit www.birminghampromise.org.
birminghamal.gov contributed to this post.