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February 5, 2021 View as Webpage
Filing a FAFSA Pays Dividends
“Each year, students leave $2.5-3 billion on the table by not completing the FAFSA." – Kim Cook, Executive Director, National College Network (NCAN)
A completed FAFSA (Free Application Federal Student Aid) is essential for college students hoping to receive scholarships, grants or loans. Indeed, the Stark Community Foundation’s nearly 100 local scholarship opportunities require a FAFSA Student Aid Report to complete an application.
The current pandemic has impacted every aspect of society including college entrance and persistence rates. Recent news has documented the drop in Fall 2020 enrollments as students and families face budgeting and financial challenges. A ripple effect of these considerations has been a decrease in the number of FAFSA applications.

As of December 2020, Ohio FAFSA applications for the 2021-22 school year were down 10.9%1 and Stark County high school student applications were down 8.4%. This decrease is unfortunate as NCAN data reflect that 92% of students from low income families would qualify to receive grants.
One might say that the drop in applications for aid was counterintuitive to addressing the challenge."FAFSA non-completion rates present an enormous opportunity because FAFSA completion is so strongly correlated with good postsecondary student outcomes."

Students who file a FAFSA can go a step further by using College Scorecard to determine the return on investment for their education – in any field – as well as the most advantageous way to achieve those credentials.
Anticipated changes include: 1) Significantly reducing the number of questions on the form –from 108 to a maximum of 36; and 2) Using
simple federal aid calculations to determine which FAFSA filers will receive a guaranteed maximum or minimum Pell Grant improving early awareness for families planning for the cost of college. Additionally, these changes will result in expansion of Pell Grant eligibility, increase the number of students qualifying for the maximum Pell Grant and restore eligibility to students with drug convictions and incarceration.
2 Bipartisan Support for FAFSA Simplification Eases Path to Accessing Financial Aid, NCAN, December 21, 2020,
"A simpler, faster FAFSA will free up ...advisors and counselors to spend more time discussing students’ college-going plans, and a more easily predicted Pell Grant award will allow families to set their intentions on college, knowing they will receive financial aid. I cannot emphasize how much of a game changer this will be for students." - Tina Fernandez, NCAN Board Member.
The Stark Education Partnership (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) collaborates with education, business, civic and community members across the entire spectrum – cradle to career – to create and respond to opportunities that will provide ALL students with education and career success.