Time to Focus on FAFSA

Updates & Resources in Partnership with NCAN & ACAC

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We know this has been a challenging year for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions. However, now is the time for a final push to engage all students in your senior class in FAFSA completion events, as only about 27% of high school seniors have completed a FAFSA as of March 29 compared to 45.5% of the class of 2023 through the same date last year. For the first time, this updated data from the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) includes high school seniors’ completions, not just submissions, for the 2024-25 award year.

It is critical that students and families hear from you about the importance of completing the FAFSA and that you and other organizations are ready to help them get the FAFSA submitted and completed as soon as possible.

What we know based on recent announcements about the FAFSA: 

  • FAFSA submissions include those applications with errors that will need to be corrected by students and/or contributors to be processed. FAFSA completions are all those applications without errors that have been processed.
  • Applicants should use Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Google Chrome to complete their FAFSA applications. 
  • The Office of Federal Student Aid has announced that contributors (parents/guardians) without a Social Security Number (SSN) who have a verified FSA ID can now use the online application. Note that – right now – all users without an SSN, including those with an ITIN, must manually enter their financial information. If students receive an error message when inviting contributors without an SSN to participate in their forms, it is due to a mismatch of personally identifiable information. Advise them to wait until the issue is resolved.
  • Online FAFSA submissions are now processed in the order of receipt, with paper forms processing last. Students will receive an email notifying them that their FAFSA has been processed and that they can access their FAFSA Submission Summary. The Next Steps section will include any corrections students may need to make.
  • The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that student corrections are now broadly available for applicants and their contributors. Students who need to make corrections, additions, or changes to their FAFSA forms should return to StudentAid.gov to complete those updates. Schools and states should receive updated information within 1 to 3 days of the applicant’s correction, according to the update the U.S. Department of Education provided.
  • Expect student financial aid award letters in mid-to-late April. While some colleges are delaying the commitment date, not all are. You can find a list of each college’s commitment date here. This list is updated daily by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
  • The U.S. Department of Education recently announced a new program, the FAFSA Student Support Strategy, which includes a funding opportunity for organizations currently working with schools and districts. The Department of Education hasn’t set a deadline for participation in the new program, but given the urgent nature of this work, we encourage you to submit the application form as soon as possible. The National College Attainment Network launched the #DoTheFAFSA social media campaign to encourage students further and provide them with FAFSA resources.

We encourage high schools, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions to continue hosting FAFSA completion events through the spring and summer. Your encouragement is more critical than ever, with FAFSA submission numbers continuing to trail last year’s numbers. You can see your state’s numbers compared to last year with the National College Attainment Network’s (NCAN’s) FAFSA tracker. As of April 12, NCAN will report completion data.

To support your FAFSA completion efforts, we’ve outlined national and state resources that will help you host your own event and help you find events/resources in your state. The White House and the U.S. Department of Education have recently declared April 15-19 as the FAFSA Week of Action. Discover how to show your commitment to this important work during the Week of Action and beyond.

Thank you for ALL that you do to help students plan for life after high school, including this critical step of FAFSA completion!

Resources to Support Your FAFSA Completion Efforts

American College Application Campaign (ACAC) Resources

Directory of Enrollment and Financial Aid Deadlines

Office of Federal Student Aid Resources

National College Attainment Network (NCAN)

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