By Senator Doug Jones
This week is Alabama College Application week and I’m proud to be partnering with Alabama Possible and the Alabama Department of Education to encourage high school seniors to apply to Alabama colleges and universities for free. This week – November 4 through November 8 – is a unique opportunity for students from all backgrounds and zip codes to send in their college applications without having to worry about the additional application costs.
If you – or someone you know — are a high school senior with dreams of achieving a higher education, I encourage you to take advantage of Alabama College Application Week and apply to participating Alabama schools for free. Let’s spread the word and make sure young people know about this great opportunity.
As a father of three children who went off to college, education has been one of my top priorities in the Senate and on the campaign trail, so this week is particularly important to me.
The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is often the most important form a student and their family submit before college; it can determine a student’s school choice and their future. And I’ve heard from students across Alabama who say that the FAFSA form is so lengthy and intimidating that they often aren’t able to complete it and ultimately miss out on the federal aid that they need. In fact, last year alone, Alabama high school graduates left $57.5 million in federal aid on the table by not submitting a FAFSA application. This shouldn’t be the case, and it isn’t fair to our students.
In order to simplify the federal aid process, I worked across the aisle to introduce legislation that would significantly cut down the FAFSA form from 108 questions to between 17 – 30 questions. But until this legislation is signed into law, students should still fill out the entire form so they don’t miss out on federal aid. Making sure students are filling out their FAFSAs and getting all the financial aid they deserve will help set them up for a stronger financial future and hopefully reduce their debt after graduation and set them up for success.
Alabama is also home to more Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) than any other state in the nation – an achievement that we can all be proud of. In order to make sure that our great HBCUs in Alabama and across the country receive the federal funding they need to keep educating our students, I worked with my colleague, Senator Kamala Harris, to secure a 14 percent increase in discretionary federal funding. And I want to continue hearing from HBCU students, faculty and community members about what matters to you, so be sure to keep an eye out for my second annual HBCU summit at Alabama State University in February.
While there are many paths to higher education and job training, I’m committed to a future where all Alabamians are able to achieve their educational dreams and build a bright future for themselves and their families, right here in Alabama. I’m bringing this focus with me on the campaign trail, with the message of “One Alabama”, which means that everyone, no matter their race, religion, zip code or disability, is able to succeed in a world where no one is left behind – and that includes educational opportunities for everyone.
So let’s work together to make sure Alabama students take the opportunity to apply to colleges and universities for free this week. If you have a college-ready student in your life, encourage them to visit AlabamaPossible.org to see a list of participating schools. To apply to participating schools, visit the school’s website and locate their “Apply” page.
Doug Jones is the junior United States Senator from Alabama.