ACCESS Springfield Promise Program Makes College Affordable for Every College-going Springfield Public School Graduate
April 13, 2011 – As a result of the growing impact of the ACCESS Springfield Promise Program, (ACCESS SPP) the young people in Springfield will not be priced out of their higher education, despite the ever increasing costs of college.
Finances are the greatest barrier to higher education for academically prepared students in America today, resulting in millions of young people failing to reach their full academic potential each year. By placing trained financial aid advisors inside all 11 Springfield Public High Schools and collaborating with more than 15 community organizations, ACCESS SPP works to counter this trend by helping students and families navigate the financial aid process to find an affordable path to – and through – a college education.
“Misperceptions about college affordability have led far too many low and moderate income students to abandon all thoughts of higher education as early as middle school,” stated Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “The ACCESS Springfield Promise Program assists many students in our City and prevents a young persons’ future from being dictated by their zip-code. Education is the key to successfully tackling poverty and public safety issues in urban cities across America.”
In its first full year in Springfield, ACCESS SPP helped 773 high school seniors, nearly every college-going senior in the city, secure more than $10.6 million in available financial aid – and this number will only increase. Halfway through its second year of service – with advising ongoing – ACCESS SPP has already provided 800 high school seniors in Springfield with 2,367 one-on-one financial aid advising sessions, educating them about college affordability and helping them complete all the necessary financial aid forms.
“In a school district with an over 80% poverty rate, we must galvanize district and community resources to ensure that every child in the SPS knows that college is a realistic option,” stated Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram. “The overarching goal of cultivating a college going culture is for all students to be prepared for a full range of post-secondary options through structural, motivational, and experiential college preparatory opportunities and ACCESS Springfield Promise is most definitely one of those opportunities. They are a strong partner and significant force working within the district.”
Building on the success of its in-school college affordability advising model, this year, ACCESS SPP began working with community organizations, such as the Springfield Parent Academy, Springfield Housing Authority and Square One, to ensure that parents and young people do not let misperceptions about affordability discourage college aspirations.
“The growing cost of higher education discourages far too many talented young students from even aspiring to college and we simply cannot let that happen” said Bob Giannino-Racine, ACCESS CEO. “By helping the young people and families of Springfield see that there are many options available to them when it comes to paying for college, and providing them with the guidance needed to access them, ACCESS will make a college education – and all the benefits it affords – a possibility for all.”
ACCESS SPP is proud to work in partnership with the City of Springfield and the Springfield Public Schools to provide increased access to higher education to the city’s young people and looks forward to increasing its impact on the Springfield community in the years to come.
“ACCESS Springfield Promise Program tries to level the playing for students and families who need assistance and support completing the FAFSA. This one critical form gives students access to countless financial resources to help them pursue a postsecondary education,” said Lorenzo Gaines, ACCESS SPP Director. “We transform lives one FAFSA at a time.
ACCESS is committed to ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to achieve their dreams of higher education. ACCESS provides free financial aid advice and advocacy to students and families in Boston and Springfield, helping them to overcome the financial barriers to a college education. Since 1985, ACCESS has provided financial aid advising to nearly 50,000 students and awarded more than $5 million in scholarships. Through strategic partnerships with high schools, community organizations and local universities ACCESS helps academically prepared students find an affordable path to – and through – a postsecondary education.