Preparation for further education or a career is the essential role of high school,
and the diploma should be a reliable basis for determining both.

Where We Stand

Significant gains have been made in recent years in the on-time graduation rate and in closing the gap between Black and White students. However, other academic data, including college and career readiness, are not improving, and our understanding of why the graduation rate has gone up is limited. Further investigation of, for example, the number of students who “transfer” to an online high school and then drop out, is warranted.

For those who don’t graduate high school, a future of lower earnings and higher unemployment is likely. A 2009 Northeastern University study found each dropout costs our society ~$260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity. Dropouts are also more likely to be arrested or to have a child while still a teenager, creating additional financial and social costs.

What Needs to Happen

A larger number of students are graduating from high school still unprepared for what lies ahead. About 90% of high school graduates who enter Trident Technical College have discovered they are required to remediate in math, while others will attempt to enter the workforce without the required life and career skills.

High-demand jobs require soft skills, like problem solving and communication, which are not now the focus of instruction or assessment. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, at the request of the region’s school superintendents, produced the “Common Skills in High Demand” report, identifying important competencies of a new hire. The four school superintendents have agreed to work together to embed these skills in school and after-school curricula, with an appropriate assessment of career readiness.

School districts and their high school guidance teams can and should know which students are destined for college, beginning with seeing to it that EVERY high school senior completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA provides grants, loans and work-study funds to students and is a  pivotal part in many students’ decision to attend college.

What We’re Doing

The High School Graduation Network, which is co-convened by The Boeing Company and Trident Technical College, is comprised of community members who are committed to improving the on-time graduation rate in our region and ensuring students are ready for college or a career in the modern workforce.

To learn more and to join the network, contact Sarah Piwinski, TCCC’s Director of Data Management and Analysis, at or 843.408.6598.

10 Best Practices of Cane Bay High School

As high schools in the tri-county area work to increase the college and career readiness of their graduates, one school in particular – Cane Bay High School – has met the 10 pillars of a successful school, resulting in an environment where the school is the core of the student’s life. Cane Bay High School has implemented or addressed what the experts say is a holistic and comprehensive approach to education, and the data show better-than-expected performance.

  • Click here to read a report explaining Cane Bay High School’s 10 Best Practices.
  • Click here to watch a video of Dr. Lee Westbury, Executive Director of Secondary Programs for Berkeley County School District, explaining the school’s 10 Best Practices.

College Cash Campaign

The High School Graduation Network’s FAFSA Project Team launched the College Cash Campaign to provide direct service for nine tri-county high schools during the 2018-2019 school year. The goal of the campaign is to increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates in regional high schools. As the FAFSA Project Team enters its third year, it’s beginning to expand its scope to encompass other impediments to college access and enrollment.

What is federal student aid?

Federal student aid comes from the U.S. Department of Education. It can be used to pay expenses for attending two-year and four-year colleges and can be in the form of grants, loans and work study.

Types of allowed expenses include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies.

How do I get federal student aid?

You apply for federal student aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.

The FAFSA for students in the class of 2019 who are planning to attend college in the 2019-2020 school year is available on October 1, 2018 at

What will I need to complete the FAFSA?

  1. Your FSA ID (both student’s and parent’s) *
  2. Your social security number
  3. Your driver’s license number (if you have one)
  4. Your 2017 tax records (these can be directly downloaded from the IRS)
  5. Records of untaxed income and assets
  6. List of colleges you’re interested in attending

* To complete the FAFSA, both the student and the parent will need to have a FSA ID. FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to login to U.S. Department of Education websites. You can create your FSA ID at

Why should I complete the FAFSA?

  1. It is the only way to qualify for free federal cash for college that does not have to be paid back.
  2. It is required for low-interest loans from the federal government.
  3. It is required for federal work-study funds that are earned and do not have to be paid back.
  4. Many colleges require it for non-federal student assistance that they or the state offers.
  5. It is FREE!

What if I need help with the FAFSA?

  1. The FAFSA form itself contains guidance for each section that answers most of the common questions.
  2. For other questions and assistance: Contact your school’s guidance department to set up an appointment with a counselor. Some schools have professionals dedicated to helping with FAFSA. Call the federal student aid telephone number to talk to a real person who can answer your questions: 800-433-3243 (toll free)

Can I use my phone to submit the FAFSA?

Yes! The new mobile app myStudentAid has been released, and the 2019-2020 FAFSA will be available on it on October 1, 2018.

For more information on federal student aid, visit:

The free and easy way to apply for financial aid
La forma más FÁCIL, y GRATIS, de solicitar ayuda económica
We provide grants, work-study, and loans.

Ofrecemos subsidios, programas de estudio y trabajo, y préstamos para ayudarlo a costear sus estudios universitaros.