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With weeks to go, FAFSA completion rates vary widely across state

by Greg Weatherford | Feb 09, 2017

Contact: Greg Weatherford, associate for communications (804) 786-2323, (804)317-3879 (m), gregoryweatherford@schev.edu 

For immediate release

RICHMOND — With just weeks to go in February, Financial Aid Awareness Month, seniors in Virginia’s public high schools have submitted more than 33,000 FAFSA forms for financial aid. That’s 37% of the total eligible to apply.

FAFSA submissions by school vary widely, with a high of 96%. A full list of Virginia schools’ rates, updated weekly, is available at SCHEV’s website (links below). Last year Virginia public schools recorded 51% FAFSA completion overall.

Many students do not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, because they do not think they will be eligible for financial aid. Others are discouraged by the complexity of the forms.

But ignoring the FAFSA would be a mistake, say financial-aid experts. Most people are eligible for some form of aid. In Virginia, more than $54 million in federal grants and loans went unclaimed in the past academic year because thousands of eligible students did not complete FAFSA forms, according to research by financing business NerdWallet.

“Success in higher education and in life after school is made easier when students and families have to pay less out of pocket,” said Peter Blake, director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. “Students and families should take every chance they can to reduce the costs of getting an education, and filling out the FAFSA is an important part.”

Making college more affordable is among the top goals of The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, the Commonwealth’s strategic plan for postsecondary education. Improving completion rates for the FAFSA form is part of the SCHEV’s 1-2-3 Go! initiative to help students and families prepare, apply and pay for college.

Institutions have different deadlines to submit financial-aid applications, though March 1 is common. Priority deadlines for Virginia’s public colleges and universities can be found on SCHEV’s website (link below).

Additional resources:

A full list of FAFSA completions by Virginia public schools, updated weekly, is available here: www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/resources/123go!/SFP/fafsa-completions

A list of Virginia institutions’ deadlines to submit financial-aid applications can be found here: www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financial-aid-deadlines-2

This federal site includes a wealth of information about student financial aid: www.studentaid.ed.gov.

Media resources about Virginia higher education, including news advisories and releases, are available at www.schev.edu/media.

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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan: schev.edu/index/statewide-strategic-plan

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