Last year, more Mississippi high school seniors applied for college financial aid, according to data from Federal Student Aid, an office of the US Department of Education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary application through which students gain access to federal, state and institutional financial aid to attend college. As of August 23, 2019, Mississippi ranked 3rd nationally, with more than 74% of high school seniors having completed the form, compared to the national average of 62%.
Of the Mississippi high school seniors who have completed the FAFSA this year, 66% of them may be Pell Grant eligible. The Pell Grant is awarded to students who have high financial need.
“In order to access critical financial aid, all students who plan to enroll in a postsecondary program need to complete the FAFSA, but it is particularly important for low-income students, who may not otherwise have access to money to pay for college,” said Get2College Program Director Ann Hendrick. “We also look for our Mississippi FAFSA numbers to increase due to the new College and Career Readiness (CCR) course which is required for graduation for the high school class of 2022. While FAFSA completion is not a requirement of the course, the course includes a unit to increase awareness about student financial aid and FAFSA completion. “
Completion of the FAFSA is a good predictor of a student accessing postsecondary education. Get2College, a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, has discovered, through their new research from the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Mississippi State University, students who completed a FAFSA had over four times (4X) greater odds of enrolling in college than those who did not complete a FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA by March 31, or earlier enables students to potentially qualify for funding from federal student aid, Mississippi student aid, institutional dollars, and some private scholarships.
“I am proud of the statewide team effort to increase FAFSA completion rates in Mississippi,” said Institutions of Higher Learning Director of Student Financial Aid Jennifer Rogers. “This work is so important, because FAFSA completion gives students access to not only federal financial aid but game-changing state financial aid as well. The state HELP Grant, which requires students to complete the FAFSA, awards full tuition to qualifying students, an amount that can make the difference between a student earning a college degree and stopping out.”
Get2College offers one-on-one, hands-on FAFSA completion assistance in their offices in Jackson, Southaven, and Ocean Springs and throughout the state in high schools. Virtual FAFSA completion assistance is also available to students and families who need FAFSA support remotely. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit www.get2college.org.