Daisy Garcia-Montoya 
Education Reporter

Community members, families, and students gathered at Mattie Rhodes Center on Saturday, April 27th, to participate in a FAFSA Frenzy event hosted by the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) district.

With a recent rollout of the new FAFSA application form for the 2024-2025 academic school year, a form used to determine the financial aid plan that the applicant is eligible to receive from the federal government, families and schools have seen delays and troubles in getting the application submitted. 

As a result of the demand for more information on how to complete the new FAFSA form, KCPS hosted a FAFSA Frenzy event for the community in March but wanted to provide a similar event that targeted Spanish-speaking families. 

Victor Aguilar, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Innovation with KCPS, said that after the events in March and having a conversation with local organization Hispanic Development Fund, they realized that KCPS students weren’t the only ones experiencing problems completing the form but that it was a city-wide issue. 

After bringing the concerns to the KCPS Hispanic Advisory Board, Aguilar says that the idea to host a FAFSA Frenzy event in Spanish was born. 

“By far the Latino population is the fastest growing in KCPS and really throughout the metro area so we’re really seeing a change in demographics at KCPS. We definitely are experiencing it and want to make sure that KCPS is there for our Latino and Hispanic families and that we can provide them with language services,” Aguilar said. 

At the event, the first 100 families were able to get free food from local taco truck Tamaleon as well as a gift card. College representatives and various organizations as well as lawyer Jessica Piedra and Great Jobs KC tabled in the Mattie Rhodes Center parking lot.

Cynthia Yepez with the Hispanic Development Fund meets with Spanish-speaking families as they work to complete the FAFSA form

Inside, families would sign in and wait to be paired with a volunteer from KCPS or Hispanic Development fund who would aid them in completing the form. Although the event targeted Spanish-speaking families and KCPS students, the event was also open to non-Spanish-speaking families and students from surrounding school districts. The event drew students from Cristo Rey and De la Salle charters as well as the Raytown and Grandview school districts. 

Manager of College Access and Success Joyce Nguyen Hernandez said that the turnout shows the need to make more workshops available and accessible to families in the district, particularly in Spanish.

“Our families want to see support in the language that they speak at home. They want to see representatives that look like them, that can understand and have patience with first generation college students or families that have never had anybody in their families needing this type of assistance,” Nguyen Hernandez said. “I think this means that we need to have different workshops because we’re just presenting information on financial aid. We could share a lot more about the different pathways a student could select, career exploration, or scholarships. I think there’s this notion that families aren’t interested and that’s just not true. This is clear evidence that our families want more.” 

KCPS student Kimberlyn Nayeli Castro said she was happy that she was able to complete the form and could now focus on her next step: graduation. 

“The truth is that we are very grateful. It is very very important what they are doing. It is easier for you to come, fill out the application and also because there are people who help you and take good care of you because there are places where you go and they don’t take good care of you. The truth is that here we were well assisted all the time and the attention was  good and also the important thing is that it was completed,” Castro’s guardian, Danny Garcia, said.