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College Possible Washington students complete the FAFSA at double the rate of Washington average

A Large Room Full Of Tables With People Sitting Around The Tables With Laptops.

At College Possible our goal is to ensure students graduate college with the least amount of debt possible. There are a variety of tactics we employ to meet this goal – none more important than supporting completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – which has proven more difficult for students and their families this year. In the winter of 2023, the Department of Education rolled out what is dubbed the “Better FAFSA.” This new version promised a reduction in questions, thus simplifying the process. The roll out has been very bumpy, including several months’ delay in the application form being available and a slew of system errors that have made navigation of the form extremely challenging for students and families.  

 All students planning to go to college, and those already enrolled, are highly encouraged to fill out a FAFSA to understand the financial aid they qualify for. The FAFSA also indicates a portion of tuition that is expected to be paid by the student and their family – this is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFT) which was updated in the “Better FAFSA.” The change enables more students to become eligible for the Pell grant (which provides financial aid for students most in need). This key change opens the door to increased financial aid for most College Possible students. 

As a result of a fumbled “Better FAFSA” rollout, the application completion rates are down nearly 40 percent nationally (compared to last year). The FAFSA challenges have greatly impacted higher education institutions as well. Awarding financial aid is delayed, and therefore many colleges have extended the deadline for students to confirm enrollment. This delay may greatly decrease the numbers of students who enroll in college this fall.  

 College Possible Washington is committed to ensuring we help as many students as possible. One of our strategies is a partnership with Capitol One to implement drop-in financial aid workshops through the summer. The goal is to help students (not just those in our program) and their families navigate the new FAFSA. We have completed three sessions so far at the Capitol One Lounge location downtown.  

During these sessions, we offer individualized student support, provide laptops to increase tech accessibility, and share resources and next steps after FAFSA submission. Our College Possible coaches spend ample time walking students through the process, answering specific questions, and troubleshooting errors in the system to work toward the shared goal of application submission. 

By offering these drop-in workshops, we expect more students will receive their financial aid packages in time to make informed decisions on where to enroll in the fall. We are proud to share that over 80 percent of the students in our program have completed the FAFSA, compared to the Washington state average which currently sits below 40 percent. We now look to the summer months where we can double our FAFSA support efforts, in service of all Washington students. 

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