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Thanks to a new city-wide campaign, Philadelphia students are getting smarter about financial aid.

Last Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor and Penn alumnus Michael Nutter announced that more high-school students will be receiving the information they need to apply for and receive financial aid through the Philadelphia College Financial Aid/FAFSA Completion Campaign.

As part of the PhillyGoes2College initiative through the Mayor’s Office of Education, the plan is emphasizing media, education and support efforts to help students complete their financial aid and Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms.

The initiative also currently operates with the help of students in the PhillyGoes2College Community Fellows program. Three of these Fellows attend Penn and work with students at University City and West Philadelphia high schools.

Campaigners are working with the United States Department of Education to develop media outreach and create advertising materials. Barbara Mattleman, coordinator of PhillyGoes2College, said the program hopes to emphasize the availability of their information and referral center for anyone getting a college degree.

“This is FAFSA season,” Mattleman said, referring to the aid program’s May 1 deadline. She iterated that it is the responsibility of her office to educate students on how to complete the form.

The PhillyGoes2College office, which officially opened last February, recently received a grant totaling $600,000 over the next three years from the Lenfest Foundation, money which they hope to use to expand the program’s reach and capability in the future.

Glenn Bryan, assistant vice president of Community Relations at Penn, has worked closely with the program in the past. He said Penn’s Office of City and Community Relations hopes to continue working with PhillyGoes2College.

“I believe all universities in Philadelphia have committed to work with the mayor [on this project],” he said. “It’s in its early stages, and it’s catching on fire.”

He emphasized that the program complements Penn’s own efforts to make financing college possible.

Jasmine Hoskins, College senior and director of Community School Student Partnerships, said she “absolutely” hopes to see a greater involvement from the University’s administration and her peers to aid local students in their path to college.

CSSP’s sponsoring organization, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, already works with high-schools students in West Philadelphia to aid them in applying and planning for college. “Extra help is always appreciated,” Hoskins said of the city-wide plan.

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