Why Didn’t Students Complete a FAFSA?: A Detailed Look

Posted by U.S. Department of Education on January 29, 2019

Why Didn’t Students Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?: A Detailed Look

National Center for Education Statistics

Scholars agree that postsecondary education benefits both individual students and society at large (Ma, Pender, and Welch 2016). The price of postsecondary education may be a challenge for some students, particularly those from low- and moderate-income families (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance 2013, p. 11). Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlight student concerns about the price of college. For instance, a recent report indicates that 25 percent of students who were in ninth grade in 2009–10 did not think college was affordable; that percentage grew to 33 percent when these students were in 11th grade (Velez and Horn 2018).

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important tool to help students find financial assistance. Not only do students fill out the FAFSA to apply for federal aid for postsecondary education, but also to be considered for aid by states, institutions, and private funders. Thus, filling out the FAFSA, specifically, and applying for financial aid, more generally, is one of many important steps that collegegoing students might undertake in their transition from secondary to postsecondary education (Klasik 2012), and challenges with financial aid considerations—alongside other barriers—may undercut students’
access to higher education (Castleman and Page 2013, French and Oreopoulos 2017).

Read the full report here: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018061.pdf

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