Since our roots in 1983, GRASP has stayed true to our primary mission of providing financial aid advising to students for post-secondary education. These advising services provide hope for students who need the inspiration to make education possible beyond high school – career certifications, community colleges, and 4-year universities. GRASP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization that assists students and families in obtaining funding for post-secondary education. GRASP’s goal is to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity for continuing education after high school, regardless of financial or social circumstances.
Middle School Early Awareness Program
GRASP’s early college and career awareness program introduces concepts regarding career success and post-secondary educational opportunities. The pilot year was at Brookland Middle School, a large and growing school in Henrico County where 75% of students’ families are economically disadvantaged and a quarter are identified as “English Learners.” With Altria’s support, GRASP has been able to initiate this program that shares critical information with students so that they enter high school with a positive belief that education after high school is attainable for them and an understanding of the steps required to achieve it. In the 2018-2019 school year, the pilot program served over 700 students in the 7th and 8th grades. In the fall of 2019, the program has expanded to two additional schools in Henrico County: Fairfield Middle and Quioccasin Middle.
Early Commitment Program
GRASP implements SOAR Virginia®, an Early Commitment Program funded by Virginia529℠, in 29 high schools. In this program, advisors begin to work with students in the 10th grade. Up to 45 students in each school have the opportunity to participate in this college readiness program, through which each student can earn up to $2,000 for college over their three years. GRASP advisors work with students on financial literacy, attendance, grades, community service, post-secondary school options and post-secondary financial aid. In the 2018-19 school year, 965 participating students earned a total of $554,750 in scholarships funded by Virginia529.
College Success Program
Statistics from the Chronicle of Higher Education show that only 49% of Virginia students who enroll in a public college or university graduate on time, and less than 68% actually receive a degree within 6 years. To combat these statistics, the College Success Program assists students by providing support as they transition from high school to college and continuing through their college years. The College Success program has achieved results well above this national average. -- 2015-2016 64 students, 93% graduated or are currently enrolled today -- 2016-2017 90 students 97% graduated or are currently enrolled today -- 2017-2018 108 students 97% graduated or are currently enrolled today Strategies to achieve these results include monthly emails, networking events, financial aid assistance, and online community support. Students who participate actively are eligible to apply for college completion grants throughout their undergraduate education. Approximately 75% of College Success students are under significant financial stress.
Post-Secondary Scholarship Awards and Administration
The GRASP in-school advisors are typically able to assemble a sizable financial aid package for students. However, expenses for books, technology needs, and other costs are frequently not covered by the financial aid package, and as a result, some students are unable to attend the institution of their choice. GRASP began the Last Dollar Scholarship program to address this need. Annually, GRASP awards at least one Last Dollar Scholarship to a graduating senior at each GRASP-served school. Scholarships range from $500 to $4,500 and are dependent on donor support. GRASP also awards renewable Community College Pathway Scholarships to select applicants attending a Virginia community college either to complete a career certificate or with the intent to transfer to a four-year institution. Undergraduate students at 2- and 4-year colleges in Virginia who actively participate in the College Success Program may apply for college completion grants each year. In the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2019, GRASP awarded $351,125 in post-secondary scholarships. Additionally, GRASP helps administer scholarships for other organizations that need assistance in publicizing, organizing, and selecting scholarship winners.
Our vision is to Give ALL students in Virginia the opportunity to build fulfilling lives through postsecondary educational pathways. By 2023 GRASP will help students in 100 high schools and 12 middle schools. GRASP's goal is to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity for continuing education after high school, regardless of financial or social circumstances. We emphasize assisting students from low-income families, many of whom do not believe they will be able to attend a post-secondary institution, primarily for financial reasons. GRASP advisors complement school counseling services by helping students navigate the post-secondary financial aid process for four-year-colleges, community colleges, or workforce credentials. Advisors help with FAFSA completion, scholarship applications, and explaining financial aid award letters, enabling students to make choices that minimize debt. In the 2018-19 school year, GRASP advisors provided 1-on-1 financial aid advising to over 7,000 high school students in 80 schools and venues in Virginia. GRASP also works in collaboration with area libraries to bring the expertise of our advisors to those people who cannot meet with them in the schools.