The numbers are now in and it appears the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) changes of allowing earlier submission using previous year’s tax return data have resulted in more FAFSA applications being submitted and being submitted sooner. According to data from the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid that was analyzed by the National College Access Network (NCAN), 61% of high school seniors submitted a FAFSA by June 30 compared to only 56% of the Class of 2016. Furthermore, roughly 1.1 million FAFSAs were submitted by December 31 — something that wasn’t previously possible given the form didn’t become available until January.
NCAN reports that applicants who submit the FAFSA are 63% more likely to attend college. Additionally, about $24 billion in federal student aid goes unclaimed each year mostly because applicants failed to realize not filing the FAFSA could cost them dearly.