Innovative Practices

The completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a good predictor of a student attending and completing higher education. Students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to enroll in higher education, persist in their college coursework, and obtain a degree.

Our goal is to increase FAFSA completion in North Carolina by partnering with high schools to ensure students receive as much funding as possible and to meet our statewide education attainment goal! Visit the FAFSA tracker.

2022 Innovation Award is Now Open!

NC First in FAFSA is now accepting submissions for the 2022 Innovation Award. See details and the submission for here. To win a $500 award for most innovative FAFSA completion strategy, each school must submit their strategies via this form by April 30, 2022 5 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced in Summer 2022.


2021 Innovation Grant Winners

These North Carolina schools employed innovative strategies to boost their FAFSA completion rate for their senior class, supporting their student community and overcoming many pandemic-related challenges. Select the school below to learn more about their innovative ideas.


Mountain Heritage
High School

Yancey County Schools


North Lenoir
High School

Lenoir County Public Schools


Person
High School

Person County Schools


South Granville
High School

Granville County Schools


Statesville
High School

Iredell-Statesville Schools

Innovative Grant Criteria

The following criteria was used by the committee to determine the winner for most innovative FAFSA completion strategy.

Criteria Description
Innovative Strategy is innovative — either trying something new that hasn’t been done before and/or doing something old in a new and more effective way.
Student and Family Centered Strategy is designed empathetically with students and families at the center based on what students and families say they need.
Data Driven Strategy uses available quantitative and qualitative data to set goals, drive decisions, plan, and implement services leading to results.
Collective Impact Strategy actively includes community and/or statewide partners collaborating to shape the strategy and share information/resources to achieve a common goal.
Equity Strategy ensures that every student and family has the support they need to be successful–and seeks out partners to provide this support when needed.