Many parents do not understand the long-term financial advantages of a college credential. We at Rico’s Scholarship Foundation will work as a guide and help parents understand the financial literacy regarding funding for college and an understanding of various post-secondary options.

High schools counselors help students/parents struggling academically or with personal issues. While high school counselors should be supported to provide additional and more in-depth support for college access, they must also continue to address all students’ various and many issues that affect their abilities to perform in an educational environment both academically and socially.

Rico’s Scholarship Foundation works as an external partner to high schools for dedicated, individualized post-secondary advising, including support from localvolunteers, professional staff, teachers, peers and online resources.

A significant predictor of college access is completion of the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is generally required for consideration for all needs-based aid, not just federal aid. FAFSA completion rates at Palm Beach County high schools vary from 35 percent to 70 percent of graduating seniors.

Fewer than 25 percent of Palm Beach students receive the state-funded scholarships, Bright Futures. Even at the highest levels of Bright Futures scholarship covers less than 60 percent of tuition at a Florida public college. Therefore for middle and low-income students, completion of the FAFSA is essential for college affordability.

Rico’s Scholarship Foundation’s College Readiness and Scholarship Program will serve to provide High School Students with the assistance to complete of the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

This effort will improve measurable results by collectively and efficiently expanding effective practices to reach more students. Success of the initiative will be judged by success on the following performance measures.

Palm Beach County Performance: The chart below shows percentage of low-income Palm Beach students who seamlessly enroll (the year after high school) that persist to a second year of enrollment (although not necessarily at the same college.) Here we see that Suncoast not only sends the highest percentage of low-income students to college, but also performs highest in persistence of low-income students. All high-poverty schools perform below the district average in persistence, although Pahokee Senior-Middle HS is just below the average.

The Palm Beach school district is unusual in that graduates enrolling in college are concentrated in a small number of institutions. Among all students, 75 percent are enrolled in only five colleges. Among low-income students, only two colleges account for 75 percent of enrollment – Palm Beach State College (PBSC) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU.) These two colleges are also located within Palm Beach County, creating a tremendous opportunity for partnership.

When we examine completion rates within six years, we see that all high-poverty schools perform well below the district average, while one moderate poverty school, Olympic Heights, excels. This chart demonstrates that an individual school’s effect on college access, persistence and completion can vary greatly. It should also be noted that each of these measures represents a different cohort of students. The characteristics of a school population in 2010 may be quite different than the characteristics of that same school’s population in 2015, which could therefore explain some of the variation in school performance over time.

Current Palm Beach County Efforts: The following organizations have been identified as providing support to students in this area.