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Sunday Success Story
By Nathan S. Stratton, UTTC Associate VP Enrollment Mgmt & Student Finance, NDASFAA President
28 February 2011

BISMARCK (UTN) - Another College Goal Sunday has passed and I never cease to be amazed and gratified by the turnout of families and volunteers who fill out FAFSAs early in the year.

      FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It's the form used to determine eligibility for student financial aid, including Pell grants and work-study programs. The paperwork can be complicated and time-consuming. So, on College Goal Sunday - usually a week or two after Super Bowl Sunday - volunteers give freely of their time and expertise to help students and families fill out and submit the forms.

Volunteer Michelle Fox of United Tribes advises Brandi Davidson and her mother Lisa, Mandan, in the college's Jack Barden Student Life and Technology Center. Fifty-one families were assisted with their FAFSA applications at UTTC on College Goal Sunday. DENNIS J. NEUMANN/United Tribes News

      Here we were, on Sunday, February 13, in the midst of another snowy winter, and hundreds of families and dozens of volunteers turned out across North Dakota to perform the very important work of helping young people plan ahead for their higher education.

      North Dakota volunteers gathered at 11 sites. Before the afternoon was over, 356 families were assisted. All five tribal colleges in North Dakota hosted events, as well as five colleges in the ND University System and a high school.

      It was pretty exciting.

      I am always amazed by the service that dedicated volunteers put in. These are financial aid professionals, TRIO staffers, and school counselors. They come from the private and public sectors to make this effort a success year after year. They have braved blizzards and bone-chilling cold to meet students and their families and help answer basic questions that we know can be daunting

      After College Goal Sunday is over, there's more that goes on every day in the work of financial aid professionals. The success of their outreach and service largely determines who gains access to higher education.

      In places like North Dakota, where we have one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country, it may seem like the job is routine. But there is still plenty of college access work to do.

      There are huge disparities in high school and college graduation rates for minority students and students in lower economic brackets. While we can't solve those problems alone, student financial aid professional must know they exist and that more work is needed.

      College Goal Sunday 2011 is over but you can be sure there will be an examination of our programs to strengthen our outreach efforts and consider how we can embrace the challenge of college access and success for all students.


College Goal Sunday Sponsors:

Bremer Bank, Grand Forks
ND College Access Network Wells Fargo

Participating ND Colleges

  • Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt
  • United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck
  • Dickinson State University
  • Skills & Technology Training Center, Fargo
  • Candeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten
  • Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates
  • Grafton High School
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
  • Minot State University
  • Fort Berthold Community College, New Town
  • Williston State College