The Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner is leading a state-wide initiative to promote student access to financial aid that can help increase college enrollment and completion. As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s FAFSA Completion Initiative, state student grant agencies, like the Division of Higher Education Assistance within Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, may provide participating secondary schools, school districts, and certain designated entities with limited data about students’ progress in completing and filing the FAFSA.
Nationally, 85% of students are eligible for federal financial aid for college, but only 45% of high school seniors complete the FAFSA before high school graduation.
Since the FAFSA Completion Initiative began in 2014, our office has worked with schools and districts to help over 1900 additional students complete their Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs), which most colleges and universities require for financial aid. We are inviting schools and districts throughout Rhode Island to participate for the upcoming year. There is no cost associated with participating in this program.
If you are interested in partnering with OPC in the FAFSA Completion Initiative or have any questions, you can contact Michael Joyce, Director of Grants and Scholarships, Division of Higher Education Assistance (firstname.lastname@example.org, 401-736-1172).
There are also a couple of important changes to the FAFSA filing process that will make it easier for seniors. First, students will have more time to file their FAFSA since the application period now opens in October rather than January. And, students and families can use prior-prior year tax information for their applications (no more waiting until after April 15), which will enable them to complete their FAFSAs quicker and with fewer errors.
The National College Access Network (NCAN) and the Kresge Foundation have joined together in a campaign to increase FAFSA Completion rates across the country: Form Your Future.
The campaign has developed an extensive portfolio of outreach materials that you can use to promote financial aid awareness to your students, including sample messaging, events templates, and information on FAFSA filing.