This year’s financial aid process was riddled with errors. Here are the completion rates by school district

The U.S. Department of Education revamped the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) late last year, promising to make it easier for college students to get the money they need to pay for their education.

The new application, which opens the door to grants, scholarships, loans and work-study opportunities, worked well for some students, but thousands of others experienced delays, glitches and other challenges, leading to a nationwide drop in FAFSA completion rates this year.

According to the California Student Aid Commission, as of Monday, applications in this state are dropped by approximately 6% (i.e. 103,440 applications) compared to last year. This includes 27,443 fewer applications from new applicants and high school seniors.

Completing the FAFSA is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go to college. According to the National College Attainment Network: “Seniors who complete the FAFSA are 84% more likely to immediately enroll in postsecondary education. For students in the lowest socioeconomic quintile, completing the FAFSA is associated with a 127% increase in immediate college enrollment.”

How did school districts do?

FAFSA completion data from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that despite the statewide decline, some California school districts have been able to maintain levels close to last year’s, including Los Angeles Unified, Glendale Unified and West Covina Unified. Still, three dozen school districts reported completion rates of 80% or higher in 2023; this year, that number dropped to 11.

To get a better idea of ​​how far your school district has managed to overcome FAFSA renewals, check out the table below. Please note: According to the U.S. Department of Education, this data reflects the number of FAFSA forms received from new applicants who are no older than 19 years old. Additionally, the data only includes public schools.

How “universal” FAFSA requirements affect completion rates

Across the country, More than a dozen states There are now “universal FAFSA” policies, which require public high school seniors to complete the application. To ensure that this requirement does not become a barrier to earning a diploma, students can opt out By having their parents sign a waiver of liability. College Access Advocates Accredit these policies with the goal of minimizing the impact on participating states’ FAFSA completion rates, despite this year’s problematic implementation.

Shelveen Ratnam, a spokeswoman for the California Student Aid Commission, said the drop in the state’s completion rate “may not be as severe” thanks to California’s recently implemented version of that completion law.

Financial Aid for Community College Students

The FAFSA deadline for California community college students and foster youth is September 3, 2024, which means there’s still time to get help. Here’s how:

Did you miss the deadline to apply for financial aid for four-year colleges? You can appeal for Cal Grant consideration by submitting this form.

What questions do you have about local community colleges?

Community colleges can be a gateway for students, whether they are continuing their education or looking for a fresh start. We want students and those who support them to have the information they need to thrive in the California community college system.