Hopes of a March yielding a lion-sized increase in FAFSA renewals did not come to fruition, with an overall 8.9% drop in applications for the 2022-23 cycle.
The data tracked by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) highlighted heightened concern over renewals for currently enrolled students, as well as Pell Grant-eligible students, who had declines of 12.3% and 15.5% respectively, sparking concern for a potential plummet in enrollment.
By steep, we really mean STEEP.— Bill DeBaun (@BillDeBaun) April 27, 2022
Or maybe S-T-E-E-P.
Precipitous. Calamitous. Real bad.
HS FAFSAs are up year-over-year, but total FAFSAs are down 8.9%.
FAFSA renewals down 12.3%
Renewals from Pell-eligible applicants down *15.6%* https://t.co/dMEJKiRIfX
Further underscoring the national impact of this trend is that according to NCAN, “no state has a positive year-over-year change in FAFSA renewals.” The average decline is 12.5% in FAFSA renewals compared to the 2021-22 cycle, with the steepest drop being 17.7% in Indiana. NCAN also noted the decline was particularly acute among low-income students.
Incredibly alarming: the number of students renewing their FAFSA between years in college is down by 420,000 among those making less than $25K, and nearly 900,000 overall. This portends a stop-out crisis. https://t.co/hp10aEJ22D— Bryce McKibben 🇺🇦 (@bmckib) April 27, 2022
NCAN outlined a number of plausible explanations for the steep declines — ranging from economic opportunities for workers, remote instruction as a deterrent to college, to even students questioning the value of postsecondary education — but cautioned that the data could not be linked to a single factor.
While there is still time for students to renew their FAFSA, the collected data indicates that more students could be leaving college with accumulated debt and no degree. NCAN encouraged the higher education sector to be proactive in examining their enrollment and reaching out to students and to use their federal pandemic relief dollars (ESSER and HEERF funds, respectively) to “focus on postsecondary transitions, retention, persistence, and completion supports, as appropriate.”
“Increasing awareness of the importance of federal student aid doesn’t stop with incoming college students,” said Karen McCarthy, NASFAA vice president of public policy and federal relations. “On average, the FAFSA takes less than 30 minutes to complete. Still, many students lack the support and resources they need to complete the form and ensure they receive the financial aid they are eligible for. We encourage financial aid offices to continue to reach out to returning students to help them navigate this process.”
Publication Date: 5/3/2022