Barnard’s Science Technology Entry Program hosted a day of workshops for local high school students, designed to make it easier to navigate the college financial-aid process. About 30 college-bound seniors and their families from the Morningside Heights community took part in College Goal NY’s two sessions. Part of a state-wide initiative, College Goal NY supports high school students as they prepare to apply to post-secondary institutions. At the Saturday workshop in Lehman, participants learned how to complete the FAFSA, and had opportunities to ask questions about the college financial aid process. Both sessions were facilitated by current college financial aid officers with years of experience working with a variety of different types of cases and family situations.

“Applying to college can be a stressful experience, and financial-aid issues can further complicate the process,” said Nikki Youngblood Giles, Barnard’s director of academic success and enrichment programs, who brought the program to Barnard. “Our College Goal NY workshops aimed to ease that pressure for some local high school students, and help them get excited for the road that lies ahead.” She added, “Barnard is not only a college, but a neighborhood resource for the families who live in the area. We hope to help make college a reality for more students in our immediate area.”

Participants praised the workshop for untangling some of the complexities of applying for financial aid. “I found that sitting beside someone who already knew how to navigate the FAFSA made it easier to understand the information they are asking for,” said one of the high school students. “I’m glad that I participated in this workshop because it helped me understand the process much better.”

“To me, this event reinforced the idea of volunteerism,” said Jason Wolfe, associate director of pre-collegiate programs at Barnard. “In these workshops, financial aid professionals from across the Barnard/Columbia community collaborated to provide services to those who needed them most. They not only volunteered, but enjoyed themselves and were energized by the experience of helping these high school students get one step closer to achieving their academic dreams.”

The College Goal NY workshop is one in a series of new and broadened initiatives by Barnard  to increase access and opportunity for low-income students, part of a larger national directive from President Barack Obama to expand access to higher education. At a White House summit in January, Barnard President Debora Spar joined college leaders from around the nation to discuss a plan of action for improving access to higher education.

Learn more about how Barnard is increasing efforts to reach disadvantaged students.

Learn more about Barnard’s academic success and enrichment programs.