2019 Spring Annual Meeting Presentations


Pre-meeting Workshop: State Team Meet Up
And Update and Sharing of Resources Among College Access Teams

Wednesday, April 24


Update from Alabama Department of Education and Alabama Possible

Alabama PowerPoint


Update from Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance 

Louisiana PowerPoint

West Virginia

Update from West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

West Virginia PowerPoint

CFWV Fact Sheet

WV Climb Flyer

CFWV Milestones Flyer

WV HigherEd at a Glance

Image of Philip Gardner

The Impact of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence on Job Skills and Career Readiness
Philip Gardner, Michigan State University

Wednesday, April 24

The rapid growth of artificial intelligence is completely changing today’s workplace. While numerous career fields are being eliminated and replaced by automated technology, other new jobs are being created, and almost all jobs will incorporate greater use of computers in some way. These changes are having a major impact on the types of skills required for success in entry-level careers and beyond. Higher-level critical thinking, problem solving, and logic skills will be required–skills typically developed in postsecondary education. In addition, researchers predict that a combination of technical knowledge and skills learned from liberal arts fields will help students be most successful after graduation. What do all of these changes mean for school counselors and college access advisors? How can we best prepare and advise students for the future of work? This session provided an overview of the latest research on career readiness and informed attendees on the steps we need to take to better inform students, parents, educators, and school counselors on how to prepare for the world of work.


Why Students Do Not Complete the FAFSA
Steve Baher and Kathleen Hoyer, Activate Research

Thursday, April 25

This session provided an updated and detailed look at why students or their parents report not completing the FAFSA. Using data from the NCES High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, an Update survey was conducted with the same respondents in the summer and fall of 2013, when most students had graduated from high school. The 2013 Update questionnaire could be completed by either students or their parents.  The survey sought to answer three main questions:

  1. Of fall 2009 ninth-graders who graduated from high school, what percentage of students or their parents reported completing a FAFSA?
  2. What were the reasons that students or their parents reported for not completing a FAFSA overall and by postsecondary enrollment? and
  3. Did the reasons that students or their parents reported that they did not fill out the FAFSA vary by student, family, or school characteristics?

This session presented survey findings, and attendees discussd the implications for how college access programs can help more students and their families to complete the FAFSA.

Tennessee Higher Education Commission logo

Increasing Student Success through Community Partnerships and School College Access Teams
Duane Gregg and Kevin Edwards, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Thursday, April 25

Over the past several years, GEAR UP TN has developed and implemented a college access and success model that has demonstrated growth in the college-going culture in our schools and communities. The framework for this model centers on creating a college-going environment that is both sustainable without GEAR UP funding and also collaborative in its approach from both the school’s and community’s perspective. This presentation reviewed GEAR UP TN’s model with a particular focus on the use of community partnerships and school leadership teams to promote sustainability and cultivate a college-going culture. 

Community Partnerships: Every GEAR UP TN Collaborative is required to form a community-wide College Access Steering Committee that focuses on project sustainability, resource development, building new partnerships, and expanding a college-going culture in direct-service schools. These committees are composed of 10-20 individuals, and they meet 2-4 times per year. The individuals come from many different places within the community including K-12, local higher education institutions including technical schools, non-profit organizations, local government offices, businesses and industries, foundations, and student and parent groups. 

School Leadership Teams: We have also supported our GEAR UP sites in forming, training, and coordinating a team of teachers, counselors, staff, and administrators at each school (middle and high schools) whose focus is to support the school’s college-going culture and to be active and engaged in the schools’ efforts to develop college and career ready graduates. These individuals meet 3-4 times per year and focus on topics such as FAFSA completion, College Application and Career Exploration Week, College Signing Day, mentoring of students, and teaching college and career readiness “soft” skills.

Social Finance logo

Focusing on Results: How Nonprofits are Using Data to Improve Their Communities
Anna Fogel, Social Finance

Thursday, April 25

To better understand how nonprofits are approaching the growing movement around outcomes, Social Finance surveyed 39 nonprofits and interviewed eight to assess their efforts around collecting outcomes data and planning for scale. Consistent with previous research, most of the respondents reported that they collect programmatic data, but only 12 percent indicated that they have performed an external impact evaluation of their program. The low percentage of nonprofits that have undertaken a formal evaluation likely reflects the often considerable time and expense it involves, which prohibits many organizations from pursuing one.

This session provided an overview of how Social Finance worked with College Possible to move from collecting “what” data (outputs, such as number of people served) to “so what” data (information that indicates progress toward an organization’s mission), and how this information can be used to make data-driven program decisions. College Possible undertook a randomized controlled trial that compared experimental versus control groups, allowing leadership to identify what program components have the greatest impact as well as the degree of impact each component has on improving improve students’ lives.

Social Finance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progressby tackling complex social challenges, facilitating greater access to services for vulnerable populations, and directing capital to evidence-based social programs—all with the goal of measurably improving the lives of people most in need. 


Effective Parent Engagement Models for College Access Programs
Silvia Torres, Families in Schools

Thursday, April 25

Families In Schools provides programs and professional development that foster authentic parent engagement in schools by building the skills, knowledge, and confidence of both parents and school/district staff on how to best work together. Programming supports student achievement, increases effective communication between staff and parents, and bridges a college- and career-readiness culture between school and home.

This session provided an overview of Families in Schools programs. Presenters also highlighted best practices and lessons learned on how to best reach out to and engage parents in postsecondary planning.

Federal Student Aid logo

The new MyStudentAid Mobile App, The Financial Aid Toolkit, and Other Resources from Federal Student Aid
Claire Bucknor, Office of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education

Thursday, April 25

In order to prepare students and parents to complete the FAFSA form, it is critical to understand the barriers that exist, the support needed, and the resources available to help them navigate the financial aid process. This session highlighted the federal support available for college access professionals to assist students and parents in various familial and financial circumstances. Participants received federal updates, information on the new MyStudentAid mobile app, and an overview of the Financial Aid Toolkit. This session also encouraged participants to share experiences and best practices.

Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance logo

Customizing College and Career Readiness Content for Developing Leaders
Juterh Nmah, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance

Friday, April 26

In this session, attendees learned how Go Alliance Academy modules were used to develop and enhance student engagement in leadership roles to foster a college-going culture on their campuses. Session objectives included the following:

  1. Learn how to tailor career and college readiness counselor course content to high school college access student ambassadors.
  2. Showcase student leadership experiences and the mobilization of college access initiatives.
  3. Learn how high school student leaders can identify and support human capital to engage their peers for their personalized post-secondary journeys.
  4. Use data to reflect admissions application completion, FAFSA completion, and implementation of college access initiatives in Trailblazer serviced-schools vs non-Trailblazer serviced-schools.

The University of Texas at Austin OnRamps logo

Access and Success in Practice: Scaling the Texas OnRamps Model and Network
Jennifer Saenz and Jennifer Porter, The University of Texas at Austin

Friday, April 26

For every student who enrolls in ninth grade in Texas public schools, only 22 percent complete a college degree or certificate within six years of high school. College success is a problem across Texas—worse so for low-income, underrepresented students.

OnRamps was established to address this problem head on. Led by The University of Texas at Austin, this innovative and replicable initiative works to drive upward mobility, with a focus on the transition from high school to college. Among its primary offerings are dual enrollment courses for Texas high school students and professional development and learning for educators and campus staff.

OnRamps serves 29,407 students, more than half of whom are first-generation; 928 educators, 313 campuses; and 151 districts across Texas. Students are exposed to the academic and social expectations of a college classroom and empowered to take on the role of college student at a low risk. Educators and districts are engaged in robust professional learning, designed to promote collective growth and peer interaction, and to ensure students learn in and outside of the classroom.

Now in its seventh year, the impact of OnRamps is telling. To date, more than 60 percent of OnRamps students earned college credit. In 2016, 72 percent of OnRamps students enrolled in two- and four-year colleges, compared to 56 percent of non-OnRamps students across Texas. In addition, OnRamps saved Texas students over $17 million in course fees, not including textbooks and supplies (as based on average higher education institutions costs).

In this session, presenters and attendees discussed questions such as: How will we scale? How will we reach more students and meet needs across the country? How will K12, higher education, philanthropy, and educational think tanks come together and achieve greater impact?

The Institute for College Access and Success logo

Smart Advising for Students: Understanding Post-College Employment Rates and NetPrice Calculators
Neha Dahl, The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS)

Friday, April 26

Data is a powerful tool in making decisions about postsecondary match and fit. This session discussed two metrics that are often misunderstood by students and their families when making decisions about where to apply and attend.

Students consistently rank the ability to get a good job as one of the most important factors in deciding whether and where to attend college, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle stress the importance of higher education employment outcomes. Given the magnitude of US investment in higher education and the wide range of outcomes students face, it is crucial to develop clear, accurate, and accessible information on the returns to higher education programs. Yet existing post-college employment success metrics are calculated inconsistently, difficult to verify, and hard to find. In this session, the presenter discussed current accreditor, state, and federal employment rate requirements as well as how the college access community can create more improved, aligned, and useful metrics.

When it last overhauled the Higher Education Act in 2008, Congress required that colleges make disclosures on their websites about the actual net price students would pay if they enrolled on campus. Colleges were supposed to clearly display tools called net price calculators that would show students total costs after subtracting grants and scholarships and factoring in students’ family incomes. But many four-year institutions are failing to meet federal standards for their disclosures more than a decade later. This session also included recommenations on how to advise students and their families about actual college costs and how to use net price calculators effectively.