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More high school seniors filing for college aid


FAFSA completion numbers are up in Iowa and around the United States after an earlier start date and a series of awareness campaigns.

As of June 30, nearly 22,000 high school seniors in Iowa had completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, up more than 8 percent from the year before. Nationwide, the number of seniors who completed FAFSAs was up more than 9 percent, according to the National College Access Network.

FAFSA completion is required to receive federal financial aid, as well as most forms of need-based state aid. In February, Iowa College Aid launched a webpage comparing school-by-school FAFSA completion rates ( in conjunction with then-Gov. Terry Branstad’s announcement of a statewide FAFSA push. Iowa College Aid also administers the FAFSA Completion Initiative, which works with participating schools to identify seniors who have not completed a FAFSA. That effort began in 2013-14 and has grown from 13 schools to 83.

“These numbers are excellent news for Iowa,” said Karen Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid. “Almost half of Iowans who file the FAFSA qualify for the Pell Grant alone, so not filing is tantamount to leaving free money on the table. We’re working to raise the college attainment rate in Iowa, and we know that students who file the FAFSA are more likely to go to college.”

A change last fall in the FAFSA timeline extended the filing window by three months. Students can now file a FAFSA beginning October 1 for the following academic year. Nationwide, numerous campaigns designed to promote the new opening date also served to raise awareness of the FAFSA in general.

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