Tips to Boost FAFSA Participation

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Looking for ways to boost FAFSA completion rates in your school district?

Erin Bibo, deputy chief of college & career programs with DC Public Schools, shared success strategies in a recent column published by Homeroom — the official blog of the US Department of Education.

“Financial aid plays a huge factor in students’ college-going decisions and success,” Bibo wrote. “For a large urban district like DC Public Schools, where 77 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced price lunch, getting graduating seniors to complete their FAFSAs on time isn’t an optional task, it’s a necessary one.”

In 2014, DC Public Schools launched a multi-year effort aimed at increasing FAFSA completion rates. The district saw a 3 percentage point increase in FAFSA completion from year one to year two, and is “aiming for an additional 3 percentage point increase this year,” Bibo said.

Two keys strategies: Setting goals and accessing data through the FAFSA Completion Portal — a tool created by the office of Federal Student Aid.

In DC, school leaders receive a biweekly email with updated completion rates for all schools and the district,” Bibo noted.

The format offers “helpful context on their progress compared to peer schools, generates some healthy competition, and serves as a nice prompt for school leaders to log-in to the portal to see exactly which students have and haven’t completed their FAFSAs,” Bibo noted. “We also follow up directly with schools who are lagging behind, or who have requested a strategy session to improve their completion rates.”

Read the full column and access more financial aid resources on NACAC’s website.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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