February 28, 2017

Florida has risen to the challenge of helping its high school seniors gain access to financial aid – and making higher education more attainable and affordable.

The Florida FAFSA Challenge – an initiative of the Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) – strives to boost the proportion of public high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by at least 5% over last school year.

According to Florida CAN’s analysis of the most recent FAFSA data available, Florida has met the goal with more than a month to spare before the campaign ends on March 31.  This is thanks to the progress made by 268 schools and 30 districts that have achieved the goal to date.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen a growing number of schools, districts and communities working together to help their students make college more affordable,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy.  “It’s great to see that all their hard work is making a difference for students across the state.”

Florida’s collective efforts to boost FAFSA completion are having an impact: This year’s increase in FAFSA completions will result in an estimated $20 million more in Pell grants compared to last year, according to Florida CAN’s calculations.

Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps students need to take to access college or career school.  Students must complete the form to qualify for federal financial aid programs to pay for their college expenses. Yet according to Florida CAN’s research, each year Florida’s high school graduates leave behind more than $100 million in Pell grants alone because they do not fill out the form.

How is your school or district doing?

Curious about how your school or district is faring in the Florida FAFSA Challenge?  You can find out on Florida CAN’s FAFSA Finish Line dashboard, which includes data for over 600 public schools in the state.

The dashboard also allows users to view school, district and state-level FAFSA completion rates using nine different filters and search options.

Chart: FAFSA completion among 12th graders attending Florida public schools

Click image to view FAFSA completion rate data for all public schools in Florida

To see which schools and districts are currently leading this year’s Florida FAFSA Challenge, including the schools with the highest and most improved rates, check out the Florida FAFSA Challenge leaderboard.

The Florida FAFSA Challenge continues through March 31. In early April, Florida CAN will announce and celebrate the top-performing schools and districts in the state.

Click here to view a printable version of the press release on the Florida CAN website.

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