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Students Reminded to Plan for the Future

Students Reminded to Plan for the Future
Posted on 10/26/2016

During my first weeks in Leander ISD, I have seen numerous examples of the district's commitment to see that all students are ready for the challenges of post-secondary education or the workforce after graduation. While visiting every LISD campus, I met outstanding teachers who are helping students find meaning in the learning through real-world applications, and I have met enthusiastic students who are learning through exciting and relevant curriculum and instruction.

We define college- and career-readiness to mean that students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful at a four-year university, a two-year college, a trade school, the armed services or the work force. There are several components to being “ready” for success after high school: personal readiness, financial readiness, academic readiness and admissions readiness. Today, I will focus on two of those areas as they relate to two- and four-year colleges and universities.

To help students become personally ready for post-secondary education, we encourage students and families to make plans to visit a college or university. Visiting a school is a great way for students to determine if that school is a good fit for their goals. Colleges and universities hold open houses for students and parents to get a firsthand look at the special programs offered at each institution. If a student cannot attend an open house, families can also request campus tours from the admission offices. College and university visits can be done at any time during the year.

Financial preparedness is critically important for students considering a post-secondary education and their families. For this year's seniors, there have been notable changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). First, students may now complete the FAFSA as early as October 1 of their senior year instead of January 1. This means that families of students who will be graduating school next June should complete their FAFSA as soon as possible because some financial aid packages are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Second, the income tax information families will use to file the FAFSA has also changed to prior-prior year tax returns (for example, for the class of 2017, families will use their 2015 tax information).

The FAFSA is always free and can be completed online at fafsa.ed.gov. Staff at LISD high schools are available to help families complete this important form. Please contact your child's school if your student needs assistance with the FAFSA.

We recommend that all students submit a FAFSA, regardless of their family's income because completing the FAFSA is often a requirement for many scholarships, and it opens doors to grants (both merit and need-based), Pell Grants, work study opportunities and student loans.

Wherever their paths take them, LISD has support structures in place to ensure that our students are well-prepared to lead to a bright future.