College Access Group Sees Surge in FAFSA Applications

"The percentage of high school seniors who by June 30 had filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid –– better known as the FAFSA –– reached a new high level this year after several years of decline, according to new data compiled by the National College Access Network," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reports.

"The number of FAFSAs filed by high school seniors increased 9 percent — or rose from 56 for the Class of 2016 to 61 percent for the Class of 2017.

The number of individuals overall — not just high school seniors — who completed the FAFSA before June 30 also rose — by 6 percent — to about 14 million individuals, as opposed to about 13.2 million the year prior. The all-time record took place in the 2012-2013 school year, when 15 million students filed the FAFSA by June 30. In recent years, however, the number has dipped to nearly 13 million.

[NCAN's Carrie] Warick attributed the increase in FAFSA completion this year to three things, two of which took place due to policy changes at the federal level during the Obama administration:

  • For the first time making the FAFSA available on Oct 1, whereas previously it had been available on Jan. 1, thus giving students more time to complete the form.
  • Enabling students — again for the first time — to use 'prior-prior-year' income data, which allowed applicants to rely on already completed tax returns as opposed to estimated information, which in turn may have subjected students to more verification checks.
  • Local and national campaigns aimed at boosting FAFSA filing.

'Those are the same three things that I would have said to you as well,' said Megan Coval, vice president of policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, or NASFAA, when asked if anything else might be responsible for the boost in FAFSA filings.

NASFAA is an NCAN collaborator and helped push for early FAFSA availability and use of prior-prior-year data.

'NCAN members and various access organizations and a lot of folks in the higher education community really worked hard to get the message out to students and families that the FAFSA was going to be available earlier,' Coval told Diverse. 'I think really the outreach that was done on behalf of NCAN and a lot of folks in the higher education community was helpful toward that end.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 7/13/2017

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