Increasing FAFSA Completion in Florida

Increasing FAFSA Completion in Florida

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 Partnership 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 in our work in improving FAFSA completion. With its origin in Arizona, our FAFSA work started in partnership with Valley Leadership, a community-focused organization aimed at mobilizing leaders to impact the most pressing issues facing the state. There we collaborated with community leaders and stakeholders to develop the Arizona FAFSA Playbook as part of the Education Impact Team’s inaugural efforts. The goal of the work, like here in Florida, is to increase the college-going rate for the state.

With the success of the Arizona FAFSA Playbook, Helios then began to have conversations with stakeholders and community leaders in Florida. After being encouraged to create a playbook for Florida, Helios then partnered with the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) to develop a Florida-specific playbook. This document and supporting tools are the culmination of that work. We hope that the playbook will increase FAFSA completion rates across Florida and help communities, regions, neighborhoods, districts, and schools increase postsecondary access.

This brief has seven main sections. In Part I we describe and detail the economic benefits for increasing FAFSA completion rates in Florida. 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 everyone should 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.

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