Statewide FAFSA Rates Are Increasing
Schools are encouraging more seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As of June 28, the statewide FAFSA completion rate was 62% – an increase of two percentage points over the previous year. Twenty-five schools increased their rates with seventeen schools increasing by over 5 percentage points. Data shows that high school seniors who complete the FAFSA, especially economically disadvantaged students, are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education. One of the highlights of last year’s efforts to increase FAFSA completion rates was the Cash for College FAFSA Challenge. Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian Bank sponsored the challenge to award schools and their senior classes who increased their rates and had the highest number of seniors completing the FAFSA.
FAFSA completion continues to be a priority for the Hawai‘i State Department of Education. Each year the federal government offers over $150 billion in federal student aid to help students pay for college and over $8 million is left unclaimed in Hawai‘i. This aid could have helped more of Hawai‘i’s economically underserved students attend college. The belief is that financial cost can be a major barrier to attending college, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Students benefit when high schools make the financial aid process easier and more accessible.