Why Talk College and Career Readiness with Your Freshmen

How to lay a strong foundation for High school financial literacy starting in 9th grade

Pull open the cumbersome metal door to any high school campus and you’re unlikely to get far before seeing a poster with five bold letters: FAFSA. The letters serve as a crystal clear reminder for seniors –  fill out the form to ensure you make an informed decision about college. With school-wide goals around student FAFSA completion, counselors, teachers, and administrators devote infinite hours encouraging and reminding students to, “gather the necessary information! Include guardians in the process! The earlier the better!” But what about the students who have already decided that they cannot afford to continue in higher education? Are we waiting too long to show students what’s possible?

Is senior year too late?

I recently had a video chat with a colleague who oversees the CTE program at the largest school district in the state. After giving a tour of my multipurpose home office/dining room, the conversation turned to preparing her seniors for college–specifically, ensuring they know about financial aid and options that transition college from a pipe dream to a plan. She shared that many incoming freshman have already decided that college is not possible, and believes it’s our job as educators to explicitly tell them that it is. She decided to equip 9th graders with the facts about FAFSA, scholarship opportunities, and student loans to ensure students don’t make a decision about college before they have all the information.

Bring true college and career readiness to your students

Expand your high school financial literacy program to ensure 9th graders know what their higher education options are by leveraging any of the 5 lessons in Pathways: Financing Higher Education

What concerns are top of mind for students when it comes to financing higher education?

By the time a student has reached senior year and realized they’re the target audience for the FAFSA posters, they’ve already completed ¾ of their time in high school. That is ¾ of the clubs they could have joined to develop leadership skills, all-nighters they could have pulled to turn that pesky chemistry C into a B, and short term goals they could have set for the best chance of getting into their chosen higher education institution. Combine all of that with some student loan horror stories they may have encountered, and filling out financial aid forms or college applications can easily move low on the priority list for a student who spent the last three years of class time thinking high school is the end of their educational road. 

How can we effectively equip all students with the facts and resources?

This colleague’s desire to reach 9th graders not only made sense, but felt doable with the resources at hand. Let’s lay out their options early, making it clear that there are attainable pathways to college and higher education, so that when it’s time to fill out their FAFSA applications they see the value in it and understand what comes next. 

We worked to develop a plan for her district that would roll out high school financial literacy lessons to entire freshmen class at each campus through the online lessons in Pathways: Financing Higher Education, available at no cost to educators across the US. The nature of these digital lessons made for a scalable and easy to implement solution.

What these financing higher education lessons cover

These interactive lessons guide a modern audience through their available options to best finance their higher education, from understanding the Return-on-Invest or ROI of higher education to navigating financial aid and demystifying student loans and budgeting responsibly to repay them.

This kind of knowledge can ignite the academic initiative that help develop students who truly are college and career ready. 

How to bring a robust financial education plan to your high school

Pathways: Financing Higher Education is a no-cost resource available to every high school in the US. Getting started is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Set up your free teacher account here and select Pathways from the drop-down (or log in and click Catalog to add Pathways to your teacher dashboard)
  2. Click Create Class to get students access
  3. Provide students with the steps to get started using this Student Start Guide (or follow this guide for districts using EVERFI through Clever)

Would you like to chat with your local Implementation Specialist to develop a personalized plan for your campus or students? Hit the Support tab in your EVERFI teacher account to shoot us an email.


Nichole is a Director of Implementation for EVERFI K-12. A former teacher, Nichole now supports teachers and districts in Arizona as they strive to prepare their students for the future. Outside of work, you’ll find her swimming regardless of the temperature or ripping new recipes out of magazines. Say hi on twitter @BarberioEdTech.

Bring true college and career readiness to your students

Expand your high school financial literacy program to ensure 9th graders know what their higher education options are by leveraging any of the 5 lessons in Pathways: Financing Higher Education