Evanston Township High School’s College and Career Center is rewarding students who successfully complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) forms with T-shirts and beads that read “Get Your Bling On”.
The FASFA form helps prospective college students to apply and determine their eligibility for federal, state and institutionally provided student financial aid.
The word "bling" is a slang term for expensive jewelry, jargon that the shirt seems to poke fun at by implying that the combination of plastic beads and a discounted college education outweigh the value of precious metals and stones.
As of Wednesday morning, 99 ETHS students and two alumni have completed the “bling” challenge.
Beth Arey, ETHS’s college and career coordinator, said that the school decided to start the campaign both to spread the word about FASFA and to provide students with incentive to complete the form as quickly as possible.
Many scholarship and aid opportunities are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and a head start can be even more important for students who plan to pursue secondary education within Illinois, because state funds designated for the following school year are made available each year beginning Jan. 1 and are awarded until that money is depleted.
Arey said that students might not apply for financial aid for a variety of reasons. Some may simply be unaware of the opportunity available to them. Some assume they will not be awarded aid. Others think that a community college education is their only financial option and do not explore alternatives.
Students should research their options, Arey said, so they can pursue an education that fits them both academically and financially.
“As a society, and certainly as a community, have really been emphasizing for students to look ahead and reach for college,” Arey said. “But something that we often don’t think about is, yes, maybe that student is capable of attending and being successful when they arrive on a college campus, but then they can’t stay on that campus due to finances.”
In addition to the free garb and assistance, every Friday, any student who makes a stop into the College and Career Center is entered into a weekly raffle to win a variety of $10 gift cards.
According to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the state-created body largely responsible for administering aid to students attending Illinois colleges and universities, the group’s 2011 state appropriation totaled more than $821 million, a number comprising state funds, federal student loan funds and federal program funds.