How many students complete the FAFSA at your high school?

by Grace

If you’re curious how many students at your local high school complete the FAFSA, you can now check online.

For the first time, the Education Department is publicizing the number of seniors in each high school who have submitted and completed the Fafsa, which determines eligibility for many forms of financial aid. Students may have submitted their forms, but they may still be missing required information. Until the missing data is provided, the government cannot determine whether the student qualifies for federal aid.

High school counselors can use this information to see if their students are getting this part of the college application done.  I looked at our local high school to see what percentage of graduating seniors complete the FAFSA.  Out of about 210 students, only 121 (58%) had submitted FAFSA forms.  Over 90% of this school’s graduates typically go on to attend college, but apparently many do not anticipate qualifying for financial assistance.  Considering that this is a relatively affluent area in a high-cost part of the country, they are probably right.

Just out of curiosity, I looked at two other nearby high schools.

New Rochelle High School
Only 38% of the 770 high school seniors had submitted the FAFSA.  Since their student population is economically and ethnically diverse with over 90% of their graduates going on to college or other institutions of higher learning, I am somewhat surprised by the low percentage.  College Goal Sunday, a program dedicated to assisting students and families in accessing financial aid for college, hosted an all-day event at this high school in February.  I participated that day, and my impression was that  the school heavily promoted the availability of financial aid but many students remained unaware or uninterested.

Scarsdale High School
Only 23% of Scarsdale’s 370 high school seniors have submitted the FAFSA.  Virtually all their graduates go on to college, but it is unlikely that many from this very affluent community qualify for financial aid.

If you are curious you can check your local high school at Data Center FAFSA Completion by High School.

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7 Comments to “How many students complete the FAFSA at your high school?”

  1. The sticky thing about the FAFSA is that it requires informed parent cooperation. Over the years, I’ve seen and heard so many stories about clearly eligible families where the parents don’t do it. Possible explanations include:

    1. Don’t understand the system.

    2. Don’t care.

    3. Have privacy concerns.

    4. Their tax filings are largely an exercise in creative writing, and they don’t want to attract scrutiny.

    Unfortunately, only 1 and 3 are really fixable from the school’s end. I’ve heard 3 quite a few times, and I’ve started to suspect that 3 is often cover for 4.

    There should be some alternate route for dealing with 2.

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  2. Amy – After reading your comment I can see #4 being an issue around here – lots of self-employed “contractors” or similar. They wouldn’t want to draw attention to themselves. I personally have privacy concerns, although as time goes on I’m realizing many aspects of our lives are becoming open books.

    OTOH, if you own a business you may have more leeway to shift or even “hide” income and assets as a way to qualify for financial aid, so maybe my theory is incorrect.

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  3. “Amy – After reading your comment I can see #4 being an issue around here – lots of self-employed “contractors” or similar.”

    From listening to Dave Ramsey, I get the feeling that a lot of contractors have no idea how much money they are making or if they’re making money at all.

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  4. Yeah, I think that #4 is huge for Eastchester, and Tuckahoe too. It seems like every time there is an article in the paper about a big Mafia bust in the NYC metro area, at least one of the people involved will be from Tuckahoe.

    As for New Rochelle, I don’t think there is much of a middle class there. Everyone is ultra wealthy in those huge houses near the Thomas Paine cottage, or else they are really poor and may not be going to college. I suspect that must be a strange high school to go to.

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  5. Yes, Bonnie, that’s what I had in mind about Eastchester.

    New Rochelle has a bifurcated student body, that’s for sure. When I questioned a high school staffer about their high college attendance rate, she responded that of course it did not include the students who dropped out. A lot of graduates go on to vocational type programs, many of which are apparently offered in the CUNY community college system.

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  6. Last week I read that NRHS had to close its library to students due to rampant vandalism!!! I frequently hear about problems at our local high school library, where the librarians end up banning certain students because they’re too rowdy. Apparently high school libraries can be a place where behavioral problems become concentrated. Who knew?

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  7. “When I questioned a high school staffer about their high college attendance rate, she responded that of course it did not include the students who dropped out.”

    That makes a difference.

    That reminds me of when I was wet behind the ears and applying for graduate school. The graduate program I went to said it had a 100% job placement rate, which really impressed me. Only some years later did it dawn on me that students only went for graduation once they had a job in the bag. Otherwise, they lingered on, often for a very long time.

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