The Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is available now for students to complete, with over $150 billion in federal financial aid available to use for college or career school. Yet, less than half of high school seniors fill out the form before they graduate, causing many of us to ask the question – why don’t more students complete the form?
This past summer, National College Access Network (NCAN) conducted research to discover why this is.
NCAN surveyed 150 low-income high school graduates ages 17 to 20 who have enrolled or hope to enroll in college to learn more about their thoughts on financial aid. Of the sample, half of the students completed a FAFSA while the other half did not.
Of the students who didn’t complete a FAFSA, more than half said they “don’t know anything about financial aid.”
The study argues there is an abundance of information available on the FAFSA, but the information is often too complex for students to understand and is not reaching them effectively. Take the notion of financial aid eligibility for example. NCAN points out that the process of articulating the difference between which students are eligible and which ones aren’t is pointless if students aren’t aware of what financial aid is to begin with. To get more students to understand what kinds of financial aid is available and how to get it, they have to be aware it exists first.
To meet this need, NCAN has launched Form Your Future, a new digital marketing campaign aimed to raise awareness of the FAFSA. NCAN has partnered with celebrities and social media personalities revered by young people to promote the campaign.
NCAN is encouraging all schools and community organizations that help students navigate the financial aid process to take advantage of the campaign and utilize its resources to expand their outreach. To get involved or access the Form Your Future Outreach Toolkit, visit formyourfuture.org.