Students Who Need Financial Aid the Most Forgo the FAFSA, Report Finds
Many students are missing out on money for college, a recent study showed. For the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the June 30 final deadline is past, and many students who are eligible for aid did not complete it, according to the Brooking Institution’s data.
The current nationwide FAFSA completion rate is 61 percent for the 2017–2018 filing cycle, reported the National College Access Network (NCAN). And one in seven students who were eligible for financial aid will now lose the opportunity.
A recent NCAN study showed a correlation between high-poverty districts and lower FAFSA completion rates: for each 10-percentage-point rise in the proportion of children living in poverty, a school district’s FAFSA completion rate falls by about three percentage points.
Although some states fare better than others for students annually completing a FAFSA. For example, Tennessee’s and Maine’s high-poverty districts have higher completion rates than many of the low-poverty districts in other states. Tennessee also has the highest overall FAFSA completion rate among states—the nation’s leader since 2015.
This is likely because students in Tennessee have to complete the application in order to apply for the state’s HOPE and Promise scholarships and to remain eligible for free community or technical college, according to Nashville Public Radio.
When reviewing the lowest overall FAFSA completion rates, Utah leads, and Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska complete the top five.
The states at the top for FAFSA completion rates are Tennessee, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.
Brookings Institution noted a few reasons for the importance of completing a FAFSA but noted that by raising rates, it can increase the number of eligible students to obtain and receive financial aid support. In 2011–12, 30 percent of undergraduate students who didn’t apply for financial aid had likely been eligible for Pell Grants.
To award need-based aid, it’s vital to expand financial aid applications among students most likely eligible for financial aid. The Brookings Institution believes FAFSA completion rates can increase, and greater one-on-one personal assistance—such as “FAFSA completion nights” or creating a simpler application process—can help.
For students who missed the cut-off, states have their own individual deadlines that should be reviewed. According to experts, there may still be financial aid available at one’s school, as it’s distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so submit paperwork now. The application for the 2019–2020 cycle comes out on Oct. 1, 2018.
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