National College Access Network

FAFSA Completions Rise After Four-Year Decline

Posted on July 24, 2017

NCAN is thrilled to announce that FAFSA completion rates through June 30 are up for high school seniors and all students nationwide! As Executive Director Kim Cook wrote in The Hill this week, “policy change works.” The combined efforts of opening the FAFSA early, allowing use of prior- prior-year income, and increased outreach nationwide, have all resulted in FAFSA filings by all students increasing 6 percent and FAFSA filing by high school seniors increasing 9 percent. This improvement brought the FAFSA completion rate for the high school class of 2017 to 61 percent, up five percentage points from the 56 percent logged by the class of 2016.

The efforts and outreach of NCAN members to students is a crucial element to this success. As an NCAN member, you know the importance of completing a FAFSA. Completing the form results in high school students being 63 percent more likely to enroll immediately in higher education than their peers who do not complete the FAFSA. Doing so by June 30, our proxy for graduation, means the student is more likely to have support and to be thoughtful about where to apply to college. With the high school graduating class only predicted to grow by 5,000 students this year, achieving an additional 179,476 FAFSAs filed nationwide is a testament to the hard work of our students and the dedication of those who serve them.

At the state level, 49 states and Washington, D.C. all demonstrated an increase in FAFSA filings this year. The top 10 states for FAFSA completion growth all saw at least 14 percent more FAFSAs filed than last year, with Utah leading the way with a tremendous growth of 33 percent. Look for more coming soon on the NCAN blog highlighting Utah’s efforts, which include outreach to advisors, counselors and financial aid officers and instituting the portal. Wyoming followed with 22-percent growth, and Florida came in third at 19 percent. The other top states in terms of completion growth include: Nevada (18 percent), Idaho (18 percent), Arizona (17 percent). Texas (16 percent), Oklahoma (16 percent), Alabama (14 percent) and Colorado (14 percent). Only Rhode Island, which experienced a 7-percent decline in the size of its senior class, had fewer FAFSAs filed by high seniors this year than last.

To read more about the big picture of FAFSA completion and dive into the numbers, be sure to check out our blog post announcing the shift, or download the full state chart including number of FAFSAs filed by state.

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