Virginia College Application Week Nov. 14 – 18

Caroline Sponaugle, guidance counselor for Highland High School, recently spoke with us about two upcoming events to help students with their further education.

“I would like to share with you today two programs provided by the state of Virginia SCHEV – the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia. The first one is Virginia College Application Week, which is November 14th  – 18th, and the other is a Super FAFSA Project.”

FAFSA is the form that must be filled out to receive for students to receive federal financial aid.

“The FAFSA has changed this year, in that, one, students can apply for the FAFSA much earlier than they have last year, or any other year. In fact, October 1st was the date which you could first file your FAFSA form, whereas before it was on January 1st.

“Another change is the year in which you’re going to be using your tax information. Before it was just the prior year, so parents were waiting to get their taxes filled out before they filled out the form. This year, parents are going to be able to use the taxes from year 2015, so they should already have that done.

The reason they’re making it a Super FAFSA Project is that the state wants every child who qualifies to be able to apply for financial aid, and this is an opportunity to receive hands on assistance in completing the federal financial aid forms, and to receive help from, not only their guidance counselors, but the counselors from colleges and other professional people.”

“We’re actually going to be meeting with students in their classes, to tell them, first of all, how to apply for an FSA I.D., which is your sign-on number and your password for the FAFSA form. On November 16th, at 6:00 in the evening, we’re going to have a financial aid and FAFSA workshop. We want to invite all our seniors and their parents, as well as our juniors and their parents – any home schooled students and any other citizens in our county who may be filling out the FAFSA to go back to college to come and attend. We have a guest speaker which is Michelle Hensley, the financial aid director from Eastern Mennonite University. She’s been here before and does a wonderful job telling us about different types of aid that is available from different colleges, and she will also be helping anyone that wants to begin that form to fill it out.”

The evening to assist with FAFSA is one part of a larger program, college application week.

“The Virginia College Application Week is a national incentive designed to increase the number of first generations in low income students pursuing a college degree or other higher educational credentials. This is another opportunity for students to receive help in filling out applications for institutions of higher learning.

“We have quite a few things that we are going to be doing. We are inviting representatives from Blue Ridge Community College, as well as Bridgewater College who are going to come over and actually talk to students grades 9 – 12 about the college application process, about the programs at college, financial aid at colleges, and what can students do to prepare for college, as well as take advantage of all the programs that are available.

“Also during the College Application Week, we are going to give our high school seniors the opportunity to actually fill out college applications during that week. And our goal is that everyone will fill out at least one application.

“We’re going to have a contest or two for those who do fill out their applications. We’re going to invite students and teachers to wear college t-shirts and sweatshirts to school that week, and we’re going to have a wall decorating contest as well.”

For more information, contact Ms. Sponaugle at 540-468-6323, or e-mail

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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