It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Leaves are falling. Temperatures are dropping (kind of). FAFSA completions are rolling in. With Federal Student Aid’s first data release of the 2020-21 cycle, the #FormYourFuture FAFSA Tracker has switched into the new cycle and will be updated weekly with information on FAFSA completions at the school, district, city, state, and national levels.
Back for its third year, the #FormYourFuture FAFSA Tracker has been embraced by practitioners and other FAFSA fanatics across the country to track student progress.
Why the emphasis on FAFSA completion? Earlier this year, NCAN reported that data from a National Center for Education Statistics survey show that students from the lowest socioeconomic quintile who completed a FAFSA were 127% more likely to be enrolled in the fall following high school graduation than their counterparts without a FAFSA completion.
The FAFSA Tracker shows FAFSA completion via two metrics: year-over-year percent change and the estimated percentage of the class of 2020 who have completed a FAFSA. Both are reported through the date of the most recent FSA release. Year-over-year percent change shows states’ progress on FAFSA completions relative to the previous cycle, while the percentage of seniors completing shows their absolute progress in helping the largest proportion of students to complete the form.
During the 2018-19 academic year (2019-20 FAFSA cycle), Rhode Island, Utah, Texas, Arizona, and California had the largest increases in completions year-over-year. Meanwhile, Louisiana, Tennessee, Delaware, Washington, DC, and New Jersey comprised the top five by percentage of seniors completing.
Additional features to the FAFSA Tracker for this cycle include the ability to roll over a state in the current week’s rankings and see a three-year comparison of the number of completions through the most current data release. Additionally, we revamped the “Make Comparisons” dashboard to offer a clearer visual of percent change at the national, state, city, district, and school levels. The weekly rankings page got a usability refresh as well.
NCAN hopes this tool will continue to be valuable to practitioners, policymakers, and the public. Questions, comments, and concerns about the Tracker can be directed to NCAN’s director of data and evaluation, Bill DeBaun, at firstname.lastname@example.org.