Oct 25, 2022 - News

Student aid applications up this year

Data: Ohio FAFSA; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

More Ohio high school students completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) this year, suggesting a college enrollment uptick could be coming after a pandemic slump.

  • Rates are up in over half of Central Ohio districts, with many trending above a state-average 61%, per new state data for the Class of 2022.

Why it matters: More completed FAFSAs not only means more high schoolers are considering college, but also that prospective students will be fully informed of their aid options.

  • This is a priority for the state, which awarded $1.8 million last year to college access groups, educational service centers and colleges to encourage more FAFSA completion.

How it works: Students provide family demographic and financial information for the government to determine if they're eligible for federal grants or student loans.

What's more: FAFSA completion is a prerequisite for many scholarships, including those awarded directly from colleges.

  • Students who don't finish it could be leaving money on the table, Kirsten Crotte, Otterbein University's senior director of financial aid, tells Axios.

Zoom in: Columbus seniors registered a massive completion leap of 35%, up to 94% total.

  • One factor: The Class of 2022 is the first to participate in Columbus Promise, a partnership providing free tuition to Columbus State Community College that requires FAFSA completion.
  • Over 600 graduates enrolled — double the number of CCS grads who attended Columbus State last year.

Of note: The rates posted by the Ohio Department of Higher Education may not be exact, a spokesperson tells Axios.

  • They're calculated using the grade 12 student headcount that districts report each October, but enrollment often fluctuates throughout the year.

Meanwhile, college access program I Know I Can has been reconnecting with Columbus students through family workshops, classroom presentations and promo tables at sporting events and graduations.

What they're saying: Advisers meeting with students in person, post pandemic shutdowns, "makes a world of difference" and prevents them falling through the cracks, Ashley Logan, I Know I Can director of college advising, tells Axios.

The latest: The Class of 2023 FAFSA opened Oct. 1 and early figures suggest a nationwide increase, Forbes reports.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more