The Four Phases of Financial Aid Toolkit©, a three-year effort of the East Bay College Access Network to document best practices in implementing a district-wide financial aid initiative, is finally complete and ready to pilot in other California school districts. Since 2011, the East Bay College Access Network has tirelessly dedicated its collaborative to building an infrastructure for universal access to financial aid in Oakland.
Out of EBCAN’s early efforts emerged an approach for bringing financial aid to every student: the Four Phases of Financial Aid©. The Four Phases was designed to guide a school district, school-based administrators and staff, families and students in a collaborative process to ensure every student can access state, federal and private sources of aid for college. Through the work of the Network, Oakland Unified became the second district in California to submit all Cal Grant GPAs electronically, automatically completing half of the Cal Grant process for every senior. The Network has also built strong collaborative data tracking practices in Oakland schools, which has led to a 30% increase in the public financial aid applications (FAFSA and CA Dream Act) submitted since 2011.
Grounded in the Network’s ongoing service in the Oakland community and schools, the Four Phases of Financial Aid Toolkit© has been developed to support California school districts seeking to achieve the same results as Oakland. The Toolkit includes information for districts looking to implement the new state-required GPA upload process, data tracking tools, resources for supporting undocumented students and workshop guides for engaging parents. As the Network builds its knowledge on the transferability of the Four Phases of Financial Aid© to other districts in California, the Oakland-based collaborative will continue to refine the curriculum from the outcomes of these initial pilots, and make it available to the wider public.