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New funding announced to boost FAFSA completion

Update | Monday, July 26, 2021

A second round of funding has been announced for a statewide initiative aiming to improve the number of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Aid, or FAFSA.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) have announced FAFSA 22, an extension of the FAFSA 21 initiative launched in the spring to ensure that Ohio’s students have the support they need to complete the FAFSA. An additional $1.8 million will be provided in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding for FAFSA completion projects during the upcoming school year.

The FAFSA allows students to qualify for federal Pell grants, state grants, and most scholarships. Historically, it has been one of the best predictors of enrollment in colleges, universities, and training centers. High school seniors who complete the FAFSA are 84% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education. 

“When students succeed, Ohio succeeds, and the FAFSA 21 initiative has led to unprecedented outreach and support for students,” said ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner. “We hope to continue that momentum into the upcoming school year, with FAFSA 22 continuing to help to put students’ goals – and a promising future – well within reach.”

“With so many great options for postsecondary education, it’s important for students to make informed decisions about the paths they pursue,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. “It would be a shame for students to pass up opportunities because they aren’t aware of money that’s available to them. If I was a student who was eligible to receive, for instance, a $6,000 Pell Grant to support my goal of going to college, I’d want to know about it. That’s why we are partnering to encourage students to complete the FAFSA. You need to turn in a FAFSA in order to really check out all your options.”

In April, awards totaling $966,772 were shared among 23 recipients, including college access groups, educational service centers, and colleges and universities. Funds were used in a variety of ways to promote FAFSA completion, including, among others:

  • The Lake/Geauga Educational Assistance Foundation held nine financial aid nights, facilitated one Saturday filing session, hosted a booth at a community event, and hired a bilingual advisor to translate all materials into Spanish. This led to the completion of 316 additional FAFSAs.
  • Toledo Tomorrow hosted 19 sessions for students, led four virtual college nights for parents and guardians in partnership with local colleges, facilitated a phone-calling campaign, and distributed flyers and postcards, resulting in 645 completed applications in the three school districts it serves.
  • Learn to Earn in Dayton and the Montgomery County Educational Service Center activated a network of “FAFSA champions” and collected/publicized FAFSA data among its partner schools every two weeks to galvanize continued momentum, increasing completion rates, especially with partner schools that historically have low FAFSA completion.
  • I Know I Can in Columbus hosted a Senior Fest, supported an Instagram campaign, distributed yard signs, hosted completion events, held four FAFSA workshops, and facilitated 706 one-on-one advising sessions, for an increase of 558 completions as of June.

FAFSA completion rates have declined dramatically – both in Ohio and across the country – in the time of COVID-19. This change represents funding that goes unclaimed and contributes to a decline in postsecondary enrollment in Ohio. FAFSA completions aim to reverse that decline.

More information about the FAFSA 22 initiative is available at

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