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State Holds Summit to Improve Financial Aid Completion


The State University of New York, City University of New York, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the New York State Education Department, and the Higher Education Services Corporation joined together on Wednesday for the first-ever FAFSA Completion Strategy Summit. The summit, held in Albany, brought together key stakeholders, including high school guidance counselors, to discuss changes to the federal aid application, while strategizing ways to increase the FAFSA completion rate in New York State, which hovers around 50 percent.

According to an analysis by the National College Attainment Network, high school graduates in the class of 2022 left $3.6 billion in Pell grants unclaimed nationwide by not completing the FAFSA. In New York State alone, the class of 2022 missed out on $200 million in federal aid by not completing the FAFSA. Studies have shown that students completing the FAFSA are more likely to attend college. About 90 percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA go to college directly after graduation, compared to just 55 percent of graduating seniors who do not complete the application.

Under the FAFSA Simplification Act, the 2024-2025 FAFSA application is expected to relaunch in December 2023 with changes to make it simpler to apply for federal aid, especially for students from lower-income families. Recently, SUNY launched the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps to help students complete the new federal application for college financial aid. SUNY received a nearly $300,000 grant from AmeriCorps to launch the initiative. CUNY has launched a new web guide to FAFSA boosting the information readily available to students and launched a #FileFAFSAEarly social media campaign to spread awareness about the benefits of filing FAFSA early and to encourage students to do so.

Summit participants learned about promising practices from New York State high schools, as well as from four of the nine states that have implemented universal FAFSA policies for all high school students and significantly increased FAFSA completion rates as a result.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “A college education is a ticket for upward mobility; however, many prospective students never apply to or attend college because of their financial situation. In 2022, more than 80,000 graduating seniors in New York State did not complete the FAFSA application – leaving $200 million in federal financial aid on the table. By working with our K-12 and higher education partners across the state, we can increase the FAFSA completion rate and show students that a college education, especially at SUNY, is affordable and obtainable through state and federal aid. I thank our partners across our state for joining SUNY to help ensure New York students get the financial aid they need to attend and succeed in college.”

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