The Class of 2022 drove a 4.6 percent increase in FAFSA applications from 2020, according to new data from the National College Attainment Network.
According to the data collected from NCAN by a tracker between Oct. 1 and June 30, about 52.1 percent of the senior class of 2022 completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Although this figure is higher than the number of students who filed a FAFSA in 2020, the number of students applying for federal aid still has not surpassed pre-pandemic rates. About 53.8 percent of the Class of 2019 submitted the FAFSA.
In an interview with Politico, Bill DeBaun, senior director of data and strategic initiatives at NCAN, said that FAFSA completion rates still have not reached pre-pandemic levels because “the economy is very hot right now. High school seniors are thinking about, ‘Do I want to go into the workforce or do I want to pursue a college education?’ For some students, when starting wages are so high right now, they may think to themselves, ‘I’m gonna delay it for a semester or a year.’”
The data showed strong gains from students attending low-income public schools, a 9.1 percent increase in completion rates from the year prior. These gains were much larger than those at high-income schools, which showed an increase in FAFSA completion rates of only 2.2 percent.
Schools with large numbers of underrepresented minority students also showed positive increases. This year alone there was a 9 percent increase in FAFSA completion for high schools where 40 percent of the population is Hispanic or Black, compared to a 1.5 percent increase in schools with large white populations.
Texas was the state with the largest percent change in FAFSA completion—compared to 2021, completion rates rose 25.9 percent.