Tag Archives: Financial Aid

On College Signing Day, A Look at FAFSA Completion Rates

Today is College Signing Day, a day to celebrate students and their commitment to complete their education beyond high school. It’s timed for May 1st to mark the deadline for high school seniors to send in their commitment to the college or university that they will attend next year.

In honor of College Signing Day, I decided to calculate state-level completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). See the table below for the full results. Students need to complete a number of milestones on their way to postsecondary education, and filing for financial aid is one of them. Typically, any student who wants or needs financial support from the federal government, states, or colleges and universities to pay for higher education must complete the FAFSA. One estimate suggests that students who fail to complete the FAFSA leave over $2.9 billion in federal grant money on the table.

For the last few years, the U.S. Department of Education has released FAFSA completion data by high school on a real-time basis, allowing schools, states, and the general public to track progress. To estimate state-level completion rates, I downloaded the data, added up the totals, and divided them by the total number of high school seniors in the state (*Please see note at end of post on data sources and caveats).

There’s good news and bad news. Continue reading