“The increasing cost of higher education has made it exceedingly more difficult for students to afford a college degree. Students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and receive financial aid via a Pell Grant are more likely to enroll in higher education, persist in their coursework, and obtain a degree,” according to a new brief titled “A Pilot to Implement Universal Financial Aid Application Completion in California” from uAspire, a nonprofit organization ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through college. “Yet, despite evidence of the power of the Pell Grant, eligible students in California who didn’t complete the FAFSA in 2022 alone left $512 million in Pell Grants on the table.”
California took steps to increase financial aid completion rates by passing AB 469, a law requiring local education agencies (LEAs) to ensure all 12th-grade students complete the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). uAspire’s brief documents learnings and best practices from a pilot project conducted by the Financial Aid for All Coalition to address the divide between the requirements under AB 469 and the capacity of LEAs as well as to better understand the various supports and interventions needed on the ground to reach a 100 percent FAFSA and CADAA completion rate.