On average, nearly half of 12th graders at most Minnesota high schools didn’t submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid last year, according to data from the University of Wisconsin.
The FAFSA — a lengthy, complicated form required to receive federal aid for higher education, as well as to access aid from many states and institutions — is a critical step toward attending college, but each year, as many as one in seven college-going, aid-eligible students in the United States don’t complete it.
Research shows low-income students and first-generation students are less likely to file the FAFSA because of a number of barriers, including the form’s complicated financial questions and the confusing nature of the aid process.
Some face additional obstacles when their applications are marked by the Department of Education for verification, a process that disproportionately involves low-income students and requires them to submit additional financial information. Experts have raised concerns over “verification melt” in recent years, since many students flagged for verification abandon the cumbersome application altogether.
Among Minnesota’s college students, the FAFSA filing rate has remained steady, at roughly 80% between 2010 and 2018, according to data from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. FAFSA completion rates are higher among the state’s students of color, compared to their white peers.
Explore the map below to see how many students completed the FAFSA at Minnesota high schools last year, according to records compiled by the University of Wisconsin’s Student Success Through Applied Research Lab.