Colorado sees uptick in FAFSA applications from high school students
More high school seniors in Colorado are considering going to college next fall following a three-year, pandemic-induced decline, new state data shows.
Driving the news: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, opened Oct. 1 for the 2023-24 academic year, and thousands of students statewide have hopped on the opportunity.
- As of Oct. 19, about 10.4% of the state's estimated 70,000 seniors had completed the FAFSA, per the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
- The latest figures are more than 3 percentage points higher compared to the same time last year, department spokesperson Megan McDermott tells Axios Denver.
Why it matters: An uptick in FAFSAs could signal a rebound for college enrollment levels next fall, and that prospective students will be fully informed of their aid options.
- This is a priority for the state, which recently wrapped up its fifth annual Free Application Days program for students applying to public colleges and universities.
- State lawmakers also allocated $1.5 million last year to local education providers to boost FAFSA completion rates.
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.
- FAFSA completion is a prerequisite for many scholarships, including those awarded directly from colleges. Students who don't submit it could be leaving money on the table.
State of play: Colorado's FAFSA completion rate has slid in the last three consecutive academic years, state data shows.
- Just 43.3% of high school seniors submitted a FAFSA for the 2022-23 academic year compared with 48.9% for 2019-20.
What's next: By 2026, the Colorado Department of Higher Education's goal is to reach a FAFSA completion rate of 80%, McDermott tells Axios Denver.
- The state's higher-ed department is hiring a full-time FAFSA coordinator to help students get there.
The big picture: Financial aid application submissions appear to be rising nationwide, early federal figures show.
- More than 4% of high school seniors across the country have submitted their forms, Forbes reports.
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