A Worrying Trend for High School Seniors


As of January 15th, 2021, only one out of three high school seniors have filed a FAFSA — which is down about 10% from this time last year, according to the FAFSA Tracker which uses data from the U.S. Department of Education. And the numbers are even worse for seniors who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FAFSA completions are down by 13%) and students of color (down by 15.4%).

Here is what makes this such a worrying trend: NerdWallet estimated that students who are Pell Grant-eligible missed out on $2.6 billion in free FAFSA college aid in 2018 simply because they did not submit the FAFSA. Students who are Pell grant eligible are students who live in households with low incomes. 

Four-year college programs are not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that students not bound for a four-year college should not complete the FAFSA. There are all types of alternative educational pathways that allow students to qualify to receive need-based aid. If you need to make the case to these students, this interactive is an excellent resource:

INTERACTIVE: The Overlooked Value Of Certificates And Associate’s Degrees from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce. Thanks to my colleague Amanda Volz for sharing this resource with me. It will be one of many she will share in future professional development opportunities. 

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Here are four perfect PD opportunities for folks that want to learn more about the topic: 

About the Author

Brian Page


Making a difference in the lives of students through financial capability is Brian’s greatest passion. He comes to NGPF after fifteen years of public school teaching where he was the ‘11 Ohio Department of Education recipient of a Milken National Educator Award, the CEE Forbes Award winner, and a Money Magazine/CNN “Money Hero”. He served on the working group for President Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. He has private school experience as a Trustee for the Cincinnati Country Day School and was a past Ohio Jump$tart President. Brian holds a BBA and M.Ed. When Brian isn’t working alongside his NGPF teammates he is likely spending time with his wife, three children, and dog; hiking, or watching Ohio State football.



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