East Hartford High School hosts 'College Goal Sunday'

By Evan Pajer - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Feb. 1, 2013
Britney Rodriguez and her mother completed the FAFSA while at College Goal Sunday. Photos by Evan Pajer.
Britney Rodriguez and her mother completed the FAFSA while at College Goal Sunday. Photos by Evan Pajer.

The scene at East Hartford High School's computer lab was typical for a school day, with students filling the lab and getting down to work. However, this day was anything but a typical school day - it was a Sunday. On Jan. 27, the school hosted its first year of "College Goal Sunday," a national program that aims to help students find affordable ways to enter college and to complete their application process.

EHHS guidance counselor Uyi Osunde said that the school was excited to be able to host the program. "This process came about because there was a study that showed many kids do not apply to college because they feel they cannot afford it," Osunde said. "You have students with 3.5 GPAs who don't apply to college because they feel they can't afford it." Osunde said that while all students who participated will benefit from the program, those who may see the largest benefit are first-generation college students.

Osunde said that in the past, the school has typically seen 80 percent of its senior class move on to college, with many of them staying in New England. "Many of them go to community college, but a healthy amount go to four-year schools," Osunde said. "We're quite fortunate that this is a very successful program."

Osunde said that many of the students were at the program to get help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA, a required part of college admissions, determines what, if any, financial aid students are eligible for from the federal government.

Vanessa Jenkins, president of the school's Parent-Teacher Organization, said the College Goal Sunday program is a step up from what was in place before. "I had a senior last year, and I wish this had been here," she said. "The only thing we had were a couple of financial seminars." Jenkins said that students and their parents had spoken with her about the event. "They were excited about having a place to get good advice," she said.

Many of the students in attendance had already been accepted to a school. Hannah, age 17, said she applied to six different schools and had been accepted by two - Seton Hall in New Jersey and Mt. St. Mary's College in New York. Hannah said she had received scholarship offers from both schools, but was still looking for more. "I haven't looked at any specifics, but I'm going down the list," she said.

Kim, age 17, said she had been accepted to Eastern Connecticut State University and was working on the FAFSA. "It's kind of confusing between what I'm supposed to fill out and what my parents fill out," she said. Kim said her parents had encouraged her to apply and helped her through the application process. "They've been encouraging me to apply, but now that I'm accepted, we're looking for scholarships," she said.

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