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Hyde County Schools leads statewide school challenge in growth to send more students to college

Hyde County Schools is currently in first place in the growth category in a statewide School Challenge to encourage students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The most recent data show Hyde County high schools have increased their FAFSA completion rate by 8% from March to April 2021 – the highest of any other district in the state.

Ocracoke School is tied for the number one spot on the leaderboard in the Extra Small Schools category with 100% of its students completing the FAFSA.

myFutureNC, along with Carolina Demography, College Foundation of North Carolina, College Advising Corps, the Hunt Institute, with generous support from John M. Belk Endowment, are sponsoring the NC First in FAFSA School Challenge to motivate students to take full advantage of free federal aid to help them pay for college. Studies show students who complete the FAFSA are far more likely to enroll in higher education.

ocracoke school

Ocracoke School’s Class of 2021. Courtesy Casey Robertson

“The FAFSA is the first step to free or affordable college so we are thrilled to see 100% of our school districts across North Carolina participating in our First in FAFSA Challenge,” said Cecilia Holden, CEO of myFutureNC. “We are especially grateful to the district leaders, school principals, counselors, faculty, and staff at Hyde County Schools schools who are helping their students go to college and inspiring other schools and districts to increase their FAFSA completion rates.”

While progress is being made, FAFSA completions in North Carolina are still down 5.7% statewide compared to this same time last year. Filling out the FAFSA is more important than ever because more families need additional financial support to make college a reality of the pandemic and related economic challenges. In 2020, North Carolina students left an estimated $107 million in federal financial aid on the table by not filling out the FAFSA.

“We are always proud to hear that Hyde County Schools is leading the state in growth, especially with our FAFSA completions! We are striving each day to provide resources and options to all of our students that make both college and career training affordable beyond high school,” said Steve Basnight, superintendent of Hyde County Schools. “We know that today’s jobs already require additional career certifications or college degrees. We also recognize that those opportunities beyond high school are essential in providing our students with the advantages to compete at the highest levels of education, employment, and in the professional marketplace.”

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