Increasing FAFSA Completion in Arizona

Increasing FAFSA Completion in Arizona: A Playbook For Success

Helios Education Foundation (Helios) is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to achieve a postsecondary education. Fundamental beliefs in Community, Equity, Investment, and Partnerships drive our work, and we invest in initiatives across the full education continuum. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for college and career and goes on to complete a high-quality postsecondary degree or certificate.

One recent project that exemplifies these principles has been our partnership with Valley Leadership. Each year Valley Leadership seeks to empower and mobilize leaders to impact Arizona’s most pressing issues. In partnership with Helios and other community leaders, Valley Leadership developed an Education Impact Team that works together to address key education needs. Under its initial “pivot” year of programming, Valley Leadership convened community leaders around education where increasing college-going emerged as a top priority. The development of this FAFSA Playbook was the result of the team’s inaugural efforts. The team hopes that the playbook will increase FAFSA completion across Arizona and help communities, regions, neighborhoods, districts, and schools increase postsecondary access. This document and supporting tools are the culmination of the FAFSA playbook work.

This brief has seven main sections. In Part I we describe and detail the economic benefits for increasing the FAFSA completion rates in Arizona. In particular, we identify how increased FAFSA completion rates lead to higher college-going rates which lead to greater state prosperity. Part II examines national trends and policies around FAFSA completion at the state and Federal level. In Part III, we highlight a calendar of important filing dates. In particular, we identify the dates everybody needs to know to maximize award amounts. Parts IV and V examine best practices and incentives for communities/ districts/schools to implement FAFSA opportunities. Part VI identifies a set of measurements and baseline data that can be used to monitor FAFSA completion progress. Finally, Part VII is a one-page handout. It is for students and families and contains the most important information they need to know. The one-pager is printed in both English and Spanish so that it can be quickly photocopied and given to multiple students and families.

As you work your way through this playbook we want to highlight for the reader that the playbook is meant to be a high level guide for opinion leaders, legislators, school board leaders, teachers, parents and even students. As a further resource, we encourage you to visit AZFAFSATOOLKIT.COM

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