HONOLULU – The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) has launched a new online tool to track completion rates for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, submittals. Hawaii's FAFSA Data Dashboard tracks the current number of completed applications at high schools statewide and illustrates schools' progress individually, comparatively to other schools in the same complex area or across the state, and over time. FAFSA applications by high school seniors are a critical measure that serve as one predictor for college entrance.
"Each year the federal government offers more than $150 billion in federal student aid to help students pay for college, including free grant money that does not need to be repaid, along with scholarships, loans and tuition assistance," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "FAFSA applications open the door to college access for our graduates. We want to remind parents that this aid is not always need-based and it is important to complete applications as early as possible to avoid any delays in receiving aid."
Since the opening of the current FAFSA application period on Oct. 1, 2018, 42 percent of high school seniors have completed their applicationsas of January 11, an increase of three percentage points from the same time a year ago. This completion rate ranks Hawaiʻi as eleventh highest nationally as of January 11. HIDOE has set a goal to have 70 percent of high school seniors complete the FAFSA in School Year (SY) 2018 and 90 percent in SY 2020. The federal deadline for online FAFSA applications is June 30, 2019.
"Completing the FAFSA unlocks a world of opportunity for financial support at every one of our University of Hawaiʻi campuses," said UH President David Lassner. "We are doing everything we can to eliminate the financial barriers for everyone in Hawaiʻi to enjoy the many benefits of higher education, from increased earnings and longer lives to better health and more fulfilling community engagement. We urge every high school student and college student and their families to make completion of the FAFSA a priority."
HIDOE has partnered with Hawaiʻi P-20 and the University of Hawaiʻi to promote the Cash for College Challenge, aimed at increasing FAFSA completion rates through healthy competition among high schools. $40,000 in prize money is available for senior classes at schools that show the highest completion rates and largest increases and can be used to support senior class activities such as prom and graduation. This year's contest will end on March 15, 2019, and is sponsored by the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Bank of Hawaiʻi, Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian Bank.
"Helping our students achieve higher education is truly a community-wide effort. Our business and community partners' involvement show that Hawaiʻi values an educated workforce," says Stephen Schatz, Hawaiʻi P-20 Executive Director.
School workshops, outreach to parents, awareness campaigns, and improved training for counselors and teachers are also being conducted at the school level to promote FAFSA completions. For more information, visit bit.ly/HIDOECollegePrep.