Good news! Data on the completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, have been received and are set for weekly distribution to participating Iowa schools.

Currently, 364 Iowa high schools receive the FAFSA completion reports, which detail the progress of each high school senior in the FAFSA process. With this information, schools can provide more individualized assistance to their college-going students and ensure that FAFSA applications are completed.

“Since completing the FAFSA is a key indicator for enrollment in postsecondary education, we know how important the FAFSA completion reports are for schools,” said Liz Yaddof, community engagement consultant for the Iowa Department of Education’s Bureau of Iowa College Aid. “Iowa schools play a vital role in helping students complete their FAFSA, and the completion reports provide valuable information they can use to target students who may need additional guidance.”

With this year’s implementation of the 2024-25 Better FAFSA form by the U.S. Department of Education, unexpected delays have impacted the collection and release of the completion reports. According to the National College Attainment Network, Iowa is the only state that proactively provides this type of report to high schools to assist with FAFSA completion.

“The completion reports have helped increase our FAFSA completion rate,” said Shalon Frye, veteran school counselor for the Independence Community School District. “The information we receive really helps the students and families I work with on college readiness. It’s another piece of information I can use to ensure they are on the right track to qualify for any and all financial aid opportunities available for them.”

Each report informs districts about who has completed the FAFSA application, who has not started the process and any errors in submission of the application, such as missing signatures. The Department works with Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) to build the weekly reports.

“For many students, preparing for college can bring new challenges,” Frye said. “Some kids aren’t great about logging into the system or think their parents have already completed the form for them. The completion reports help to confirm that they have everything done and are set up for future success.”

Additionally, Iowa schools can also view historical data on FAFSA completion on the Department’s FAFSA dashboard. The dashboard provides FAFSA completion data by school building for each year, which can help Iowa schools compare their current completion rates to prior years.

“We aim to provide as much information on FAFSA completion as we can to Iowa schools,” Yaddof said. “The completion reports can help schools bridge the gap between high school and college enrollment and ensure that students are college-ready.”