[School-counselors] New Federal Tool Helps school determine FAFA Completion Rates

Barbara Ashcraft bashcraft at access.k12.wv.us
Thu Mar 22 14:57:16 EDT 2012


     We strongly recommend schools use this new tool to determine the
percent of students in your school who have applied for the FAFSA to help
you improve FAFSA completion rates.



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March 22, 2012
For Immediate Release

Contact: Jessica Kennedy

Assistant Director of Communications
Division of Student Success and P-20 Initiatives 

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

(304) 558-0655 - office
(304) 532-0911 - cell
jkennedy at hepc.wvnet.edu



New federal tool aims to help states increase college financial aid



CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Approximately 7,000 of the state's more than 18,000 high
school seniors have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA), according to statistics from a new FAFSA tracking tool released
earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Education. That amounts to
approximately 39 percent of this year's senior class. On average, 59 percent
of the state's graduates go on to college within a few years of graduating
high school, according to other U.S. Department of Education Statistics.


Brian Weingart, Senior Director of Financial Aid at the West Virginia Higher
Education Policy Commission (Commission), said increasing the proportion of
students completing the FAFSA is critical. "The FAFSA is a crucial step in
preparing for college because the application is the gateway to receiving
many federal and state grants and scholarships," Weingart said. "Students of
all ages and income levels, who are considering attending or re-enrolling in
college next fall, should complete the FAFSA."


The FAFSA is the application utilized by the federal government to determine
whether students can receive the federal Pell Grant, the largest source of
need-based financial aid in the country. In West Virginia, the FAFSA is also
utilized to determine whether students are eligible to receive the West
Virginia Higher Education Grant, another need-based aid program, and is one
of the required steps in applying for the PROMISE Scholarship, the state's
largest merit-based scholarship program.


Weingart says ensuring that more students submit the FAFSA is a key
component of helping more West Virginia students pursue education and
training beyond high school.  Surveys of high school seniors conducted by
the Commission reveal that students cite concerns over cost as the top
reason for not pursuing some form of postsecondary education. To overcome
that obstacle, Weingart said the Commission has increased its efforts to
promote awareness of the FAFSA and assist families with completing the form.
He said the Commission and its partners offer statewide FAFSA workshops
through a program called 'College Goal Sunday' and online resources through
a college-planning web portal available at www.cfwv.com.  Staff also visit
high schools across the state throughout the fall and spring to conduct
daytime and evening workshops. "Yet many of the students who need the funds
the most are also the hardest to reach," Weingart said.


The problem is not unique to West Virginia. Studies conducted by the U.S.
Department of Education estimate that nationwide approximately one million
college students who could have qualified to receive the federal Pell Grant
did not submit the application.


Weingart said the U.S. Department of Education's new FAFSA tracking tool,
available at
http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/datacenter/fafsahs.html, is a step in the
right direction. The tool provides updated reports every two weeks and shows
how many students in a school's senior class have started and completed a
FAFSA. However, due to the need to develop systems that protect student
privacy, the tool does not indicate which students have submitted the


Despite that constraint, Weingart said he thinks the tool will help promote
FAFSA completion. "The school-wide count will help principals, counselors,
and other school staff gauge the effectiveness of their current efforts and
adjust their approach as necessary," he said. "I hope we can utilize this
new feedback system to boost applications between now and the upcoming state
FAFSA deadline."


There is no deadline to complete the FAFSA in order to apply for federal
need-based programs; however, students must complete the FAFSA by April 16
in order to be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant
Program. While the U.S. Department of Education's FAFSA tracking tool
focuses on application completion rates of high school seniors, adults
planning to attend college and current college students should also complete
the form.  To learn more about the FAFSA and state deadlines, students can
AvDcj8sy0M4=> www.cfwv.com or call the Commission's free financial aid
hotline at 1-888-825-5707.




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