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February is Financial Aid Awareness Month

Two college graduates hugging.

CHESLA is partnering with the Connecticut State Department of Education to support the first statewide Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Challenge.

The goals of the Connecticut FAFSA Challenge are to increase FAFSA completion rates, college access and success among historically marginalized students. The Connecticut FAFSA Challenge will build awareness around the importance of the FAFSA and promote FAFSA completion in 16 districts throughout the state. The 16 districts selected to join the FAFSA Learning Community based on their applications were: Ansonia, Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, East Haven, Hartford, Meriden, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Norwich, Putnam, Waterbury, and West Haven.

The challenge targeted districts with high schools that had FAFSA completion rates below 50% during the 2019-20 school year; free and reduced lunch rates above 45% during the 2019-20 school year; and a senior class larger than 50 students in 2019-20. Those selected for the challenge will benefit from additional resources and support including, but not limited to data tracking assistance, targeted communications to increase FAFSA awareness and completion, and grant funding for districts that demonstrate the highest increase of FAFSA completion rates. 

Connecticut’s 2019-20 FAFSA completion data shows that only 68.5% of Grade 12 students completed the FAFSA and 12,416 of Grade 12 students did not complete the FAFSA last year. 21 Alliance Districts had FAFSA completion rates below 50% and 60 high schools had FAFSA completion rates below 50%. Every year, students nationwide miss out on a staggering $3 billion in available federal funding by not submitting the FAFSA.

Learn more about CHESLA here.