Florida College Access Network (FCAN) has released a new data dashboard that highlights how states rank in the proportion of public and private high school graduates who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The dashboard also shows state rankings on the proportion of students who are eligible for a Pell Grant and who submit the FAFSA with errors.
The data were provided to FCAN by the U.S. Department of Education.
Florida’s 61.5% FAFSA completion rate for the 2017-18 school year represented a 0.5 percentage point increase, the 12th highest change in FAFSA completion nationwide compared to the 2016-17 school year. During that same time span, the overall FAFSA completion rate in the U.S. decreased by 0.2 percentage points.
Click image to view data dashboard
FCAN’s Florida FAFSA Challenge, a statewide campaign to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the FAFSA, has been part of the effort to boost the state’s completion rate. For the 2014-15 school year, Florida’s 52.6% completion rate ranked 41st in the U.S. The state’s current 61.5% completion rate places Florida at 31st in the U.S. — a significant gain in just three years — while still trailing the national 63.4% completion rate.
There is still plenty of room for those numbers to grow: while Florida ranks 31st in the U.S. in FAFSA completion, the state has the 3rd highest number of Pell Grant-eligible students. As a result, FCAN estimates that Florida high school graduates are leaving more than $100 million in Pell Grant dollars on the table each year.
Additionally, Florida had the 4th highest rate of FAFSAs submitted with errors. The state’s 9.4% error rate — the percentage of submitted FAFSA applications that were incomplete or incorrect — is the equivalent of 11,630 applications. FCAN estimates that if all of these applications had been completed correctly, it would result in more than $25 million in additional Pell Grant dollars for Florida students. Earlier this year, FCAN published data from the U.S. Department of Education listing the top mistakes students make when filling out the FAFSA.
“Florida schools and communities work hard to ensure all Florida students get the financial aid they need to attend college, and it shows in these trends,” said Laurie Meggesin, FCAN’s executive director. “The high rate of errors could be drastically reduced if the FAFSA form were made simpler for students and parents to complete.”
Want to know how your state is doing? Click here to check out FCAN’s new dashboard!