West Virginia ranks fourth in the nation in FAFSA completion rates
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – According to a recent announcement from the National College Access Network (NCAN), West Virginia is one of only four states to see gains in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates so far this year. And the state ranks fourth overall nationally in FAFSA completion — jumping up from 10th place last year.
Thirty-seven high schools in West Virginia met or exceeded the state’s spring benchmark for increasing the number of 12th graders who complete the FAFSA, the primary application for state and federal financial aid for college. In January, the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) set a goal of ensuring that 60 percent of West Virginia high school seniors complete the form by September 1. As of May 6 (the most recent date for which data is available), 52 percent of West Virginia 12th graders had completed a FAFSA.
“Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps in pursuing higher education,” Brian Weingart, Senior Director for Financial Aid at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS), said. “By completing this one form, students can be considered to receive thousands of dollars in grants — that’s ‘free money’ that you don’t have to pay back.”
Nationally, researchers and policy leaders have recognized that increasing the number of students who complete the FAFSA is a proven strategy for increasing college-going rates, as cost and affordability are leading factors influencing students’ decisions to pursue postsecondary education.
“Applying for financial aid can be a little overwhelming and sometimes students simply don’t realize they could qualify for aid,” Dr. Adam Green, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Commission, said. “Submitting the FAFSA and receiving a financial aid award letter can be a game changer — suddenly college doesn’t seem so far out of reach.”
To ensure more students reach this crucial milestone, the Commission, WVCTCS, and college and university partners across the state have been working with high school counselors and administrators and community partners to increase awareness of the FAFSA and help students and families complete the form.
Students can complete the FAFSA any time after January 1 in the year they intend to go to college. Filing the FAFSA allows students to be considered for the Federal Pell Grant, which this year provided students with up to $5,815 to cover the cost of tuition and other education expenses. Students who filed the form before April 15 will also be considered for up to $2,700 through the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. Additionally, completing the FAFSA is a requirement of applying for state scholarship programs, including the PROMISE Scholarship. More information about these programs and other financial aid opportunities is available at cfwv.com, the state’s free college-planning website.
The following high schools met or exceeded West Virginia’s 2016 FAFSA completion spring benchmark of ensuring 55 percent of students complete a FAFSA by April 15:
- Bishop Donahue Memorial High School
- Bluefield High School
- Bridgeport High School
- Cameron High School
- Cross Lanes Christian School
- East Hardy High School
- Frankfort High School
- George Washington High School
- Greenbrier East High School
- Hedgesville High School
- Hundred High School
- Hurricane High School
- Jefferson High School
- Keyser High School
- Magnolia High School
- Mingo Central High School
- Nicholas County High School
- Paden City High School
- Paw Paw High School
- Pendleton County High School
- Petersburg High School
- Pocahontas County High School
- Ravenswood High School
- Ripley High School
- Ritchie County High School
- Roane County High School
- Sissonville High School
- Tug Valley High School
- Tyler Consolidated High School
- University High School
- Valley High School – Fayette County
- Wahama High School
- Washington High School
- Webster County High School
- Williamstown High School
- Winfield High School
- Wirt County High School
A complete list of FAFSA completion rates by high school is available at www.cfwvconnect.com/financial-aid-outreach .
CFWV is a college- and career-planning outreach initiative led by the Commission in collaboration with WVCTCS, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.
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Media note: The NCAN announcement referenced in the article is available at this link: http://www.collegeaccess.org/BlogItem?dg=93febb26b6c94744b9d394b9d79946e5