St. Francis College Compensates For Federal Aid Fumble

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

by Jessica Easthope

There was a moment when Charmela John thought she wasn’t going to be able to enroll in college.

She was ready to give up.

“I was like dang, I feel like I’m not going to be able to go to college,” John said. “And it triggered my anxiety and stuff like that. So I was, like, kind of stuck.”

John and 17 million other incoming college freshmen experienced daunting technical difficulties filling out the 2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

“We tried our hardest to meet our students where they were,” said Romello Rogers, the Assistant Director of Admissions at St. Francis College. “We had in-person appointments with them. We had Zoom appointments with them. And then we even said, okay, what is the question that you’re having issues with?”

Rogers was there to help, meeting with John and her family to make sure a glitch wouldn’t derail her goals.

“They’re going to say if completing this FAFSA form is this difficult, maybe college isn’t for me,” Rogers said. “And that’s when Saint Francis College comes in.”

This year, St. Francis College is offering a $500 commuter allowance and 3 free college credits upon enrollment at the school.

“We’re small enough where they’re known by their name, and we can reach out to them individually,” said Tim Cecere, President at St. Francis College. “At the same time, though, we’re large enough that we can use resources and have access to resources that other colleges may not have.”

Cecere said money is not holding anyone back from achieving their dreams at St. Francis College.

“We are not one of those institutions,” Cecere said. “We are not going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from you and then leave you in the end with no marketable skills and no path to success in life.”

And now John can start school in September knowing St. Francis College supports her future and finances.

“It felt welcoming, like people have my back and that people are willing to help me every step of the way,” John said. “They genuinely want to support you.”

“They can rely on us, as an institution that they feel part of. More like family, more like home,” Cecere said.

“We want to make sure that students understand the value of not only a small private school but a Catholic education and how much is going to better their lifestyle post-graduation from Saint Francis College,” Rogers said.

Universities across the country estimate thousands of students are still stuck in the FAFSA system and because of it, might not attend college in the fall.
St. Francis College’s FAFSA fix will go a long way for their incoming freshmen.

65% of the student body receives federal aid, and 99 % of students begin their college career with some type of financial help.