This “In a Crab Shell” edition is Part 2 of 2 focused on the FAFSA and financial aid. This edition looks at outcomes in universal FAFSA states; these states have various policies that require (with opt-out options) FAFSA completion for graduating high school students.
FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAFSA – for All Need-based Aid
U.S. College Affordability Snapshot
• Decades of rising college costs
• Years of weak/stagnant wage growth in many sectors
• A decade of cuts in state support for higher ed
o Families pay more
o Federal gov’t pays higher % of financial aid disbursed
• Declining FAFSA completion rates, even lower since COVID-19
o Worse among underrepresented populations
o Many Pell Grant eligible students never submit a FAFSA
FAFSA completion strongly correlated to
• Increased enrollment in college / postsecondary education or training
• Increased persistence in college / postsecondary education or training
The FAFSA is the administrative form that unlocks access to all need-based financial aid, not just federal aid as the name suggests.
Students must submit the FAFSA to be considered for:
• ALL need-based aid from federal, state, college/university sources (includes Pell Grants)
• All low-interest federal student loans
• Maryland’s Community College Promise
Note: Maryland offers the Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA) see more in last section.
As described in Part 1 of this two-part “In a Crab Shell” series, 6 states now have policies of universal FAFSA completion for high school seniors. Most of those state policies were implemented only 1-2 years before COVID-19 disruptions. So, only Louisiana, the first state to implement such a policy, can provide outcome data at this time. That data looks very promising.
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