National College Access Network

FAFSA Completions Up After Four-Year Decline

Posted on July 31, 2017

Seniors’ 9% Increase Helps Reverse Decline in FAFSA Completions
By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy, NCAN

Reversing a four-year decline in Free Application for Federal Student Aid filing, FAFSAs filed by all applicants through June 30 are up 6 percent over last year. For high school seniors — the primary target of a new policy to open the FAFSA three months earlier, in October instead of January — the number of FAFSAs filed increased 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.

This FAFSA cycle also marked the first time applicants filed using tax information from two years ago, called prior- prior-year income data (PPY), easing the process by allowing applicants to rely on already completed tax returns rather than estimating information. Overall, these increases are concrete evidence that allowing students to file the FAFSA earlier and use PPY resulted in more students seeking federal financial aid.

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