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FAFSA: Mom describes this crucial step on the path to college

Andrea Adkins with Dr. PosleyAs the cost of college continues to rise and families worry about how to pay the tuition bill, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the most important steps on the path to college. By filling out the FAFSA, families receive a report of all federal money available to help finance the cost of higher education. Free money in the form of grants plus low-interest loans may be offered depending on a family’s financial status.

Andrea Adkins, mother of seven, has filled out the FAFSA with her children an estimated 20 times, and eagerly shares her experiences to help other families. “I had a dream for all my children to attend college and enjoy the full experience, including living on campus,” she said. "As it turned out, having a large family was not a deterrent. I discovered financial assistance is available for all households, regardless of size.

“With my oldest daughter, it really was a learning experience, applying for college and financial aid for the first time, ” Adkins shared. Her oldest daughter attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison through the PEOPLE program, which helped pay her costs. The PEOPLE program is available to students at select high schools in Milwaukee Public Schools.

Three of Adkins’s children have graduated from college with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her middle daughter is working on a master’s degree and her two youngest children are both in college, one at Philander Smith and one at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The college degrees are beginning to pile up in the Adkins household, with more to come.

“I want to tell parents to educate themselves on FAFSA and the college application process,” Adkins said. “Knowlege is key. Over the years, I've learned a lot about college and financial aid. I feel so blessed that five of my children are living their college dreams. This would not have been possible without FAFSA.”

MPS has College and Career Centers in 20 high schools where students and families can get help from trained staff to research schools, fill out applications and scholarships, and fill out the FAFSA. For locations and hours, visit the College and Career web page.

Fill out the FAFSA only at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa. Avoid web sites that charge a fee. The FAFSA for the 2020-21 school year is now open. Early applicants are sometimes eligible for more funds, so apply now!

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Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • Ninety percent of 2019-20 budget dollars go directly to classrooms;
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