Return to Headlines

FAFSA Fest Opens Doors of Opportunity

(September 22, 2022) The Rochester Education Foundation and the Rochester Community Access Network, in conjunction with the Rochester City School District and the City of Rochester, are taking their award-winning FAFSA Fests to the next level this year!

This year, new partners include the New York Education Trust and the Urban League, which for the first time will provide transportation assistance for students and families who need help in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This year also, the City will open up two of its R Centers for FAFSA Fest events to expand the opportunities for students and families to get help with the forms.

“Accessibility is very important. We are not only grateful to the City of Rochester for opening two of the R Centers for the Fests, but we are also grateful to Dr. Seanelle Hawkins and the Urban League of Rochester for providing shuttle service from the other R Centers to the FAFSA Fest,” said Amy Stein, Executive Director of the Rochester Education Foundation (REF). Families will be able to get more information about how to access the shuttle service by going to www.rochestercan.org.

Although many of Rochester’s city students qualify for significant amounts of financial aid through grants and scholarships, the FAFSA form can be challenging to fill out. Indeed, in 2021-22, only 36 percent of RCSD and charter school students in Rochester completed the form – meaning most students did not do so.

Boosting that rate is a community goal this year. Because this is so important, the Urban League has also committed to six scholarships to go to one student at each of the top six schools to increase their FAFSA completion rate from last year.

“I want all of our students to have access to the best education possible, and that includes the chance to go to college,” said Mayor Malik D. Evans. “Fall and Winter FAFSA Fest helps families get their applications in early enough so they can be considered for grants and scholarships, which can make a tremendous difference when trying to cover college costs. That’s why holding these workshops is so vitally important, so students get the help they need. I want to encourage all of our high school seniors to take advantage of these opportunities.” 

“We want to help our students achieve the dream of a college education,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carmine Peluso. “While the financial aid process can be difficult, we help families navigate it by connecting students and families with counselors and providing them with useful information on understanding college costs. I hope everyone takes advantage of these great opportunities.”

"The Urban League of Rochester is thrilled to partner to educate families about available funding for college, financial literacy, and education," said Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, President and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester. "The Urban League will provide scholarships to students to ensure a strong start advancing education goals." 

This is the ninth year of FAFSA Fest events, presented by REF, the City of Rochester, and the Rochester College Access Network, along with a host of sponsors. 

Over the years, Rochester Education Foundation has been lucky to have many fabulous volunteers helping students and their families complete the FAFSA forms. Additional volunteers are needed. Anyone interested in participating in a training session to learn how to help can register by contacting info@rochestereducation.org. A training session will be held at the Rochester Education Opportunity Center on October 12, at 161 Chestnut Street, from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM.

The first FAFSA Fest event kicks off on October 17th, providing an opportunity for Rochester 12th graders to get free assistance with filling out their college financial aid form. The event will take place from 3:30-6:30 at East Upper School, 1801 Main Street E., Rochester, NY 14609.

“We are encouraging everyone who knows a 12th grader in Rochester to encourage them to go to a FAFSA Fest event and fill out the form!” said Stein. “Tell a friend, tell a neighbor, and help our students take full advantage of college opportunities.” 

Each FAFSA event includes food, drinks, and the opportunity to win prizes. 

FAFSA FEST events Fall/Winter schedule:

  • FAFSA Fest at East High School - Monday, October 17, 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
  • Information/education session about FAFSA and the process of applying to college for students and families - October 19 at REOC from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
  • FAFSA Fest Edgerton R-Center - November 19, 10:00 AM -2:00 PM
  • FAFSA Fest Jackson R-Center -December 10, 10:00 AM -2:00 PM 

The Central Library will host events on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, and Wednesday, February 22, 2023, from 10 AM to 4 PM where students and families can participate in FAFSA completion along with scholarship and decoding financial aid offer letter workshops.  

For information about FAFSA Fest events, please go to www.rochestercan.org.

Rochester Education Foundation's mission is to provide programs and resources to improve learning and success for all students in the City of Rochester through partnerships with educators, businesses, and the community.

The Rochester College Access Network was launched in April 2013. The mission of this collaborative group is to increase college access and success through coordinated communication, coalition, and advocacy to enable students in Rochester to meet their full potential. The group includes representatives from local colleges and universities, guidance counselors, and representatives from Rochester city schools, not-for-profit organizations, philanthropic organizations, and businesses.