Florida’s year-to-year improvement in FAFSA completion through the end of March resulted in more than $37 million in additional Pell Grant dollars being awarded to graduating seniors this school year!

That’s according to research conducted by Florida College Access Network following the completion of the organization’s statewide 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, which sought to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Overall, the state improved FAFSA completion by 9.1%, which exceeded the 5% goal established by the campaign.

“Our research shows that completing the FAFSA is a top predictor of whether a high school’s graduating high school class attends college,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy. “This is a huge gain in one year and will surely lead to more students attending college and in the long run, contributing to our state’s economy and work force.”

Each year, Florida high school graduates leave behind more than $100 million in Pell Grant dollars alone, according to Florida CAN’s research. Pell Grants are a subsidy of the U.S. federal government and are typically awarded to students with financial need who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. And unlike a loan, federal Pell Grants don’t have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances.

Miami-Dade County ($6.3 million increase in Pell Grants awarded, 9.5% increase in FAFSAs completed) led the way among Florida school districts in terms of Pell Grant dollars awarded compared to last school year. Orange County ($5.5 million, 16.1%), Broward County ($3.3 million, 7.1%), Palm Beach County ($2.7 million, 8%), and Hillsborough County ($2.6 million, 9.1%) rounded out the rest of the Top 5.

Click here for the full district-by-district breakdown of the estimated change in Pell Grant dollars awarded during the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge.


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