FAFSA Completion


College applications and FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form one must complete to apply for financial aid) completion rates have been down dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a low-income student does not complete the FAFSA the chances of that student attending college are slim.


We supported three initiatives specifically focused on improving FAFSA completion rates among New York City high school students.

  • We partnered with Central Park East High School (CPEHS), an East Harlem high school, to create an in-depth guide detailing how it achieved a near perfect FAFSA completion record. The guide was featured on The 74 Million.
  • We provided emergency-response support for College Access: Research & Action (“CARA”) to work with select high schools aimed at improving college access outcomes for its class of 2021 students. CARA trained and paid high school students (“Peer Leaders”) to work in high schools that have significant numbers of students in need of additional post-secondary planning support. The Peer Leaders guided students through the college applications, Opportunity Programs and financial aid processes. This initiative dramatically increased CUNY and FAFSA application completion rates.
  • We supported College Advising Corps (CAC) advisers to redouble FAFSA engagement efforts, using CAC tools such as texting campaigns. NYU-CAC advisers were able to troubleshoot student questions about college matriculation, remind students to monitor the transfer of their high school transcripts, offer guidance regarding monitoring and balancing financial aid, and assist students with course selection and enrollment.