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Abstract

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most important step for students to receive their portion of the billions of grant aid dollars disbursed in federal student financial aid; however, every year many low income and community college students fail to complete the FAFSA. Over the past twenty years, surveys have shown four main reasons students do not complete the FAFSA: the complexity of the FAFSA, loan debt, “other,” and no financial need. This article reviews current efforts, policies and practices aimed at increasing FAFSA completion rates at the national, state, and local levels. It also shows that many of these efforts are not assessed or evaluated for effectiveness. Special attention on FAFSA completion practices are made for financial aid administrators at a community and local level that focus on personal one-toone assistance, which research has found to be the most effective means of increasing FAFSA completion rates.

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