Improving FAFSA completion rates

Editor’s note: This excerpt comes from the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st-Century Center.

Nearly 40 percent of federal aid-eligible students don’t complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA. Why? Many students don’t think they’re eligible for aid. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has increased outreach to clear up myths like this.

ED has deployed outreach coordinators to school districts where FAFSA completion rates were especially low. ED also conducts webinars not only for future college students and their parents, but also for college counselors and access advisors. There are FAFSA office hours monthly, in which people can have questions answered via Facebook and Twitter. There’s outreach to community organizations, too, in order to reach nontraditional students.

There’s also an online financial aid toolkit for counselors and access advisors. It consolidates federal student aid resources. The toolkit has updates about changes to the FAFSA or loan repayment programs. There’s basic financial aid information and a searchable library of resources — many available in English and Spanish.

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