Anyone attending college or planning to attend college should complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the only way to receive federal financial aid for college in forms of Pell Grants, work-study, federal student loans, and some scholarships.
Utah continues to be last in the nation for percent of eligible students completing the FAFSA. In 2014-15, 70% of eligible Utah high school graduates did not complete a FAFSA, the highest among all states. Those students left $45.2 million on the table in total unclaimed Pell Grants, which is free money for college.
Utah is taking steps to promote FAFSA completion:
Last year , Utah joined the FAFSA Collective Impact Initiative, the goal of which is to unify states to create a collective impact to assist low-income, first generation, and under-represented students to education beyond high school through the FAFSA. Through the initiative, Utah now uses a web tool to track which individual students in each school district and high school have completed their FAFSA. School counselors are able to see which students have filed a FAFSA, and remind students who haven’t. For the first time this year, the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) sent out thousands of e-mails to Utahns who filed a FAFSA last year, to remind them to renew their FAFSA this year if they’re still in college.
USHE also continues to host annual FAFSA Completion Open House events throughout the state. The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) outreach team, operating under the StepUp to Higher Education initiative, will have hosted 73+ FAFSA Completion Open House events at the end of March 2016. They work with individual high schools and school counselors to host these events to encourage seniors and their parents to attend to get help filing their FAFSA. Students who attend these events are also eligible to enter to win $3,000 in college scholarships.