FAFSA Completion on the Rise, With Universal Completion Policies Showing Strong Gains

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

After two cycles of concerning FAFSA completion numbers, the class of 2022 has returned to near pre-pandemic norms with 52.1% of the senior class completing the application.

The latest dataset compiled by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) found that through July 1, 2022, high school FAFSA completions rose 4.6% year-over-year, representing roughly 92,000 additional applications.

This reported rate exceeded the classes of 2020 and 2021, which garnered worrying enrollment trends, but still fell short of the pre-pandemic class of 2019’s FAFSA completion rate at the same time (53.8%).

NCAN’s data also showed widespread year-over-year gains at the state level, with just 11 having fewer FAFSA completions than last year.

There was also considerable movement among states that recently mandated completion of the FAFSA as a high school graduation requirement.

“Texas’s FAFSA completion rose 25.9% year-over-year (+49,072 completions), which ranks the state first nationally in terms of percent change,” NCAN reported. “Not far behind and ranked second, Alabama had 6,326 more FAFSA completions this year than last, a 24.9% increase.”

According to NCAN, these states skyrocketed up the ranking of percent of seniors completing a FAFSA; Texas jumped from 23rd last year to 5th for the class of 2022, while Alabama rose 25 places from 34th to 9th.

“Whether the high school class of 2022 can begin to reverse the dismal trends observed over the past two years remains to be seen. Given the tight association between FAFSA completion and enrollment, it’s reasonable to expect the class of 2022’s postsecondary outcomes to rebound relative to its peers,” NCAN writes. “Until then, NCAN will continue to track and report on FAFSA completion data over the summer via the FAFSA Tracker.”


Publication Date: 7/14/2022

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