Students & Family
Success Stories

Last year, EFC Members provided over 2 million families the resources needed to successfully plan, save, and pay for college. These resources include FAFSA® completion events and help centers, scholarship programs, college planning centers, financial aid workshops and information sessions, financial literacy workshops, and support services for members of the military, veterans, and at-risk and low-income youth, including homeless and foster youth.

Francelly Brito | RISLA’s College Planning Center

Francelly Brito participated in the Rhode Island Student Loan (RISLA) College Planning Center (CPC), which helps students access the higher education they deserve by providing free college planning sessions and financial aid guidance.

“It was extremely helpful to have the CPC help my Spanish-speaking parents understand the process. I don’t know how I could have done it without them,” shared Francelly.

For twenty years, the CPC has assisted members of the Rhode Island community with reaching their higher education goals. The CPC offers free one-on-one college planning counseling, including assistance filing the FAFSA® and CSS Profile, at two Rhode Island locations.

CPC counselors also travel across the state providing free in person financial aid nights, FAFSA® completion events, and other college planning seminars throughout the community.

Garrett Seay | KHEAA’s College Application Campaign

Garrett Seay participated in the Kentucky College Application Campaign (KCAC) as a high school senior. KCAC gives graduating high school seniors hands-on help in applying to college.

“I still to this day think of the college application week,” says Garrett. “I also still appreciate everything you did for me that year. I am able to take care of my family which is exactly what I wanted to make sure happened back then. I am blessed to have been helped by KHEAA. Thanks for all you did and continue to do for us who don’t have a way to college.”

For many students, particularly those who do not have an immediate family member who attended college, having someone who can help them navigate the college application process can be enough to encourage them to pursue education beyond high school. KCAC is designed to build excitement around the college application process and encourage seniors to take this important step toward continuing their postsecondary education.

“I graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s from University of Louisville debt-free with over a 3.5 GPA for both,” he shared. “I am married now with two kids and one on the way. I have been successful in finding a job in Louisville that pays extremely well (somewhere near $100,000 a year), so I can take care of my family.”

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) has sponsored KCAC since 2011, and it is a part of the American College Application Campaign. KHEAA provides resource materials and outreach counselors to assist schools interested in hosting a College Application Campaign event. KCAC is one of KHEAA’s Kentucky Goes to College initiatives, which also include Close the Deal and College Decision Day.

Laura Vinson | REACH Georgia

Laura Vinson is majoring in early childhood education at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus. She first heard about REACH Georgia as a seventh-grader at Rabun County Middle School.

“I was told at a young age that I did not have a great chance of going to college unless I worked hard in and out of school to earn scholarships and other types of financial aid to help me,” said Vinson. “Watching how hard [my sister] struggled paying for college on her own with little helped scared me. I was afraid I would not make it.”

REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) is Georgia’s first needs-based mentorship and college scholarship program. The mission is to ensure that Georgia’s low-income, academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, and achieve postsecondary success.

“When I was honored with the REACH scholarship, my outlook changed tremendously,” said Vinson. “I had something to motivate me. It gave me a newfound hope in pursuing my educational dreams.”

Students are selected for the program as they progress from middle school to high school. To be eligible for a REACH scholarship, students must have a strong attendance record, maintain a 2.5 GPA in core courses, have a clean discipline record, and remain free of drugs and crime. Students receive a $10,000 scholarship ($2,500 per year for up to four years) to be used for the cost of attending college. Participating colleges and universities can match those funds up to 100 percent.

“Not only did this program open my mind about going to college, but it taught me who I was and what I was capable of doing,” Vinson said. “It broadened my horizons and helped me be an example for others in a similar situation.”

REACH Georgia is administered by the Georgia Student Finance Authority (GSFA), a companion student finance entity of the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). GSFC is the state agency that administers the HOPE Scholarship and Grant Program as well as other state- and lottery-funded financial aid programs. GSFC also manages the career and college preparation website, and provides educational services such as free financial aid consultation and FAFSA completion assistance to high schools and postsecondary institutions across the state.

Mya’s Journey to College | MEFA Pathway

Mya participated in MEFA Pathway, a free online portal offered by Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) that is designed to help students plan for academic success through middle school, high school, and beyond.

Once a MEFA Pathway account is created, students can also take advantage of all the useful resources within the portal that can aid them through the college admissions process.

The College Search and College Compare features help students decide which colleges are a good fit, and the College Cost Calculator is a great way to guide students in making their final decision by allowing them to compare financial aid letters. The Scholarship Search generates a list of possible scholarships for students based on student-specified criteria.

Watch Mya’s Journey to College video to learn how she made her college decision!

The Lombard Family | Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC)

Meet Michelle Lombard and her five children — all following their dreams and making it happen with the help of TRIO Talent Search, grit and determination, and some dedicated Talent Search counselors. VSAC has participated in Talent Search since 1969.

“The Lombard Family: A TRIO Talent Search Success Story,” features five sisters who have participated in the Talent Search education program with outreach counselors from Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. The video was filmed and edited by Putney twins Aja and Kaelan Selbach-Broad, Talent Search students at Bellows Falls Union High School in Westminster, Vermont.

Talent Search is one of two statewide VSAC outreach programs that offer career and college planning services to eligible middle school and high school students and their parents. Talent Search, a federal grant program from the U.S. Department Education, encourages students to set high academic expectations, complete high school and prepare to enter education or training programs after high school. VSAC Talent Search provides services to 37 targeted middle schools and high schools and serves over 1,000 students each year.