"Filling out the FAFSA Was the Greatest Thing I Could Ever Do"

November 17, 2017

By Kim Szarmach, Communications Intern

For students underrepresented in higher educationevery dollar counts when piecing together a financial aid package. And their ability to obtain those dollars and succeed in college depends on policymakers establishing a Streamlined FAFSA and approving increased, sustainable funding for need-based aid like Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, as well as programs like Federal Work-StudyAmeriCorps, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Camryn Pollard wanted to become an FBI agent ever since he started watching Law & Order as a kid. He knew he would need a college degree to pursue his dream, but before he found out about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), he didn't know how he would be able to afford it.

"My mom is a single mother, so how is she going to pay $59,000 a year for me to go to school?" he said. "When I heard about the FAFSA, I was like, ‘let’s get this filled out real quick.' Filling out the FAFSA was the greatest thing I could ever do."

Camryn learned about the FAFSA from NCAN member College Now Greater Cleveland, whose staff came to his high school and helped students apply for college and financial aid.  

"They helped me understand that life after earning a degree would be so much easier," he said.

Camryn found the most challenging part of the application process to be writing all the individual essay prompts for each college he applied to. With the help of College Now, he was able to come up with something he was really proud of.  

"I wrote about how my uncle passed away and how that motivated me to keep pushing and not get involved with things I wasn't supposed to get involved with," he said. "He was like a father to me. It was hard at first, but I kept saying, 'What would he do? What would he say?'"  

An admissions counselor at the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH found Camryn's essay particularly compelling and called him to say how much Camryn's writing spoke to the staff there. He got admitted, and now Camryn is ready to start his second semester at the college.

Camryn is having a great time at college so far, and particularly appreciates the relationships he's been able to forge with his professors.  

"College is everything I hoped it would be – and more," he said. "The professors are really great. If you're struggling or you have any questions, they will stay after class or send you emails to check up on you."  

In addition to getting to know professors, Camryn thinks college is a great place to network with all sorts of people who could help him out professionally in the future.

"The world is about who you know, and in college you get to connect with a lot of people," he said.

After he graduates, Camryn plans on either becoming a police officer or joining the military so he can gain experience before he applies to work for the FBI. He hopes to make a difference in his community by promoting safety and working to reduce crime.  

"I want to be that good cop that people can depend on, and I want to change society to make it better," he said.

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