Tool provided completion numbers for over 25,000 high schools across the country in 2014.
Online toolkit provides resources for educators to boost completion rates, apply for aid and more.
In March 2012, the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced the release of an innovative FAFSA Completion Tool to help guidance professionals, school administrators, and practitioners both track and subsequently increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completions at high schools across the country. Subsequent enhancements to the FAFSA Completion Tool provided not just the FAFSA submission and completion totals for any high school for the current year, but also totals for the same time the year before and other key benchmark dates.
Building on those enhancements, the 2015 version of the FAFSA Completion Tool provides updated information on a weekly basis during the peak FAFSA application period. By posting FAFSA submission and completion totals weekly, counselors and administrators will have access to current data to more accurately gauge the impact of outreach efforts and identify successful local strategies.
Prior to publishing this data, the only source of data on FAFSA completions that high schools had was from self-reported student surveys, which were highly unreliable. Through the FAFSA Completion Tool, educators have real-time access to reliable data to track FAFSA submission and completion and gauge their progress in increasing FAFSA completion. Key studies have indicated that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income populations.
While FAFSA data is important, we encourage high schools to use this data as one component of a comprehensive college access and completion program within their school. To assist educators, counselors, and others with this and other aid awareness and loan repayment efforts, the Department created the Financial Aid Toolkit. The Toolkit consolidates financial aid resources and content into a searchable online database, making it easy for individuals to quickly access the information they need to support their students. The Toolkit provides counselors with access to valuable resources such as how to host a FAFSA completion workshop. For our social media savvy customers, it includes a host of FAFSA completion social media resources, including sample Tweets, Facebook posts, videos, blog posts, infographics, and other components which can be used to promote FAFSA completion. The Tool is a critical component of President Obama’s FAFSA Completion Initiative and this year, local completion efforts are getting a boost from Mrs. Obama’s “FAFSA Completion Challenge,” a video competition the First Lady recently launched to encourage more high school students to complete the FAFSA.
In addition to determining eligibility for federal student aid, which includes Pell grants, federal student loans, and work study opportunities, many states, institutions, and private organizations rely on the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal sources of aid. Last year, over one million high school seniors did not submit the FAFSA, making them ineligible for federal grants and loans as well as most state-based and institutional aid. When students complete the FAFSA, they help themselves and make a positive contribution to their school, communities, and states.
The promise of the FAFSA Completion Tool lies in its simplicity and its use of current data to effectively measure the success of FAFSA completion efforts. Last year, the Tool provided FAFSA submission and completion data for the senior classes at over 25,000 high schools in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and all U.S. territories.
For more information on the Tool and to search updated FAFSA Completion Tool data by high school for the senior class of 2015, visit StudentAid.gov/FAFSA-HS-Data.