Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Rates in Arizona and Florida

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 7, 2018

According to the National College Access Network, seniors who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education than students who do not complete the FAFSA.  Helios Education Foundation, along with many organizations throughout the country, has prioritized FAFSA completion as a key strategy to encourage students to pursue postsecondary education.  

Typically, the earlier students submit their FAFSA the better since some scholarships and grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  Completing the form is especially critical for low-income students because colleges and the government use the FAFSA to award merit-based aid. 

Recently, national FAFSA completion data was released and we are seeing a slight upward trend over previous years.  Approximately 42 percent of Arizona students and 52 percent of Florida students successfully completed the 2017-2018 FAFSA.  This is compared to just 38 percent for Arizona and 49 percent for  Florida last year.  While the increases are modest, they are headed in the right direction.  It is also encouraging to note that Arizona ranked 5th in the country for year-to-year change in FAFSA completions and Florida ranked 13th.

Through key partnerships and initiatives, Helios is helping students in Arizona and Florida to learn more about the FAFSA and provide assistance to help students complete it.  In Florida, Hillsborough County Public Schools, in partnership with LEAP (Tampa Bay’s College Access Network has established a FASFA completion strategy that is already seeing results and outpacing the state average.  Based on their efforts, more than 54 percent of 12th graders in Hillsborough county completed the FAFSA.  

In Arizona, Helios’ College Knowing & Going initiative has a specific FAFSA completion strategy where students in 18 school districts throughout the state are receiving assistance filling out and completing the application.  Within the 83 schools represented by those 18 districts, 53 schools saw an increase in the number of completions over last year.  Overall, 833 more FAFSAs were completed resulting in a 6 percent increase over last year.   

By creating strategic partnerships and developing strategies focused on increasing FAFSA completion in both Arizona and Florida, Helios hopes to increase the number of students who are prepared for and complete a postsecondary education.

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