FAFSA completion in Utah increases for second year in a row

About 35.5% of Utah high school seniors completed the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from October 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, reflecting a 0.9% increase over the previous year, according to the Form Your Future FAFSA Tracker.

Utah has made excellent progress in improving FAFSA completion for high school seniors over the past several years, including a stunning 39% increase in FAFSA completion for the 2017-2018 FAFSA. While Utah has made substantial progress in helping students complete the FAFSA, Utah remains 51st in the nation (including the District of Columbia) for FAFSA completion.

The FAFSA directly impacts college affordability and access for students. Nationally, 90% of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA attend college directly after high school, compared to 55% of non-completers. The FAFSA is the only way that Utah students can access all federal, state, and institutional aid in the form of grants, work-study, and federal student loans.

The Utah System of Higher Education is committed to removing financial barriers to higher education by promoting FAFSA completion throughout the state with several exciting updates.

The 2018-2019 FAFSA Completion Challenge

The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) outreach team, which opperates its outreach efforts under StepUp to Higher Education, was awarded a $40,000 grant by the National College Access Network to improve FAFSA completion by at least 5% for high school seniors in West Valley City. In partnership with Granite School District and other community partners, UHEAA’s strategy to increase FAFSA completion rates has three key focuses:

  • Perform targeted outreach
  • Strengthen existing cross-sectoral partnerships
  • Increase access and use of FAFSA completion data

While the grant strategies focus on Granite School District schools, USHE is encouraging the state to increase FAFSA completion statewide by 5% to increase completion rates to 40% of high school seniors.

Other resources to promote FAFSA completion

StepUp houses the FAFSA completion data from Federal Student Aid. In coordination with K12 and college access partners throughout the state, StepUp provides secure student-level data to inform counselors and college access personnel which students have completed the FAFSA and which students have been selected for verification.

In addition to providing student-level data, StepUp will host over 115 FAFSA completion events throughout the state to help high school seniors complete the 2019-2020 FAFSA. These open houses allow students and parents to receive expert help with the FAFSA to complete it quickly and accurately, as well gives students as an opportunity to receive one of six $500 scholarships offered by StepUp for students who complete their FAFSA.

StepUp also produces annual content updates to assist with FAFSA completion, including the 2019-2020 FAFSA DIY Kit, a resource to help counselors and educators promote FAFSA completion and host their own FAFSA completion open house and a FAFSA Walkthrough Video to help students and parents complete the FAFSA on their own time.

For the 2019-2020 FAFSA, Federal Student Aid has updated the look and feel of the FAFSA to make for a better user experience across all devices (computers, tablets, and mobile phones). In addition to making the FAFSA accessible on a wide variety of devices, Federal Student Aid has released the myStudentAid mobile app.

For additional questions about FAFSA completion efforts throughout the state, please contact UHEAA Community Outreach Specialist Jacob Newman Jacob Newman at jnewman@utahsbr.edu or at 801-366-8487.

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