Biden Admin Launches $50M FAFSA Completion Initiative

Funds will be awarded to organizations that can offer extended support to students who still have not submitted a FAFSA.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on May 7, 2024
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  • The Department of Education is investing $50 million to increase the number of FAFSAs completed.
  • Rollout of the 2024-2025 FAFSA has not gone smoothly, leading to a downturn in completed forms.
  • ED's investment aims to close the FAFSA completion gap by providing extended support to students.

The Department of Education (ED) launched a multimillion-dollar effort to increase the number of FAFSAs completed before the next academic year.

ED announced Monday that it would invest $50 million over the coming months as part of its FAFSA Student Support Strategy. The program will provide grants so organizations can offer extended resources to students and families still struggling to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

This comes after repeated delays and issues have plagued the rollout of the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

The FAFSA typically drops on Oct. 1 each year, but ED didn't soft-launch this year's FAFSA until Dec. 30. ED said it needed more time to implement changes to the form, which significantly cut down on the number of questions students would need to answer.

The delay, plus additional issues like an incorrect FAFSA formula, influenced the number of soon-to-graduate high school students who have submitted their FAFSA. According to the National College Attainment Network, FAFSA completions are down 24.3% from last year, as of April 26.

Just 35.6% of high school seniors have completed their FAFSA, compared to 48.2% last year.

ED's latest investment aims to right the ship as much as possible.

We are determined to close the FAFSA completion gap, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten said in a statement. The funding we're announcing today will support states, districts, and community-based groups [to] build capacity and leverage their power to ensure that every student who needs help paying for college turns in their FAFSA form.

Funds will go to help organizations expand the scope and availability of their FAFSA supports. According to ED, this means extending support through evenings, weekends, and the summer months.

Financial aid experts recently told BestColleges that the FAFSA cycle will need to extend well into the summer if there's any hope of catching up to last year's completions.

The department added that FAFSA Student Support Strategy funds will help facilitate FAFSA submission clinics, as well as provide transportation to these clinics. Funds can also be used to add new communication supports to reach students and families, including through texts, phone calls, and videoconferences, ED stated.

Time will tell if ED's investment will help or if it's too little, too late.

As of early May 6, the department said students had submitted just under 9 million FAFSA forms.