October 18, 2022

FAFSA Season Opens Oct. 1: Here’s How to Prepare

By: Caroline Doglio, National College Attainment Network

With October comes all the exciting autumnal things, trees changing colors, Halloween, and the opening of FAFSA season. As FAFSA numbers continue to grow, getting closer to pre-pandemic numbers slowly but surely, we’re sure schools remain eager to raise those numbers even higher. The National College Attainment Network (NCAN) has a robust library of resources that we are happy to provide in these efforts.

The Class of 2022 began to show signs of rebounding from the pandemic. FAFSA completion grew 4.6% by this past July 1 nationally, though we are still not at pre-pandemic numbers. This growth represents approximately 52.1% of seniors in 2022 completing the FAFSA. By comparison, the pre-pandemic class of 2019 finished at 53.8%. Alabama and Texas were standout states in terms of year-over-year growth, and, notably, both implemented a universal FAFSA policy this past academic year.

District and schools, and the myriad professionals that make them run, have their work cut out for them. There have never been more demands on counselors, teachers, district and school leaders, and the other caring adults that pave the way for students toward college and career readiness. The past three years have been devastatingly difficult, and the prospect of helping students complete the FAFSA, a notoriously not-fun form, may be daunting.

It doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help.

This month NCAN will begin sending out our first of this cycle’s monthly reminder emails. These emails are geared towards K-12 practitioners and supply suggested to-dos depending on where in the cycle we are, as well as help in catching up if needed or what to look ahead for. Those interested can sign up for these emails here.  

These emails can be used conjointly with NCAN’s FAFSA resource library, which has a monthly calendar of action items as well as resources on activities that can promote FAFSA completion such as:

  • A FAFSA planning calendar 
  • Info on laying the groundwork and engaging external partners 
  • Completing the actual FAFSA form 
  • Training and capacity building 
  • Communication 
  • Accessing and using data 

Need more on how to put together an effective FAFSA completion campaign? We’ve got that, too.

By the way, NCAN’s Form Your Future FAFSA Tracker, which counts completions at the national, state, city, district, and school levels, will return for the sixth straight year in early October.

More specific to this FAFSA cycle, FSA is introducing multi-factor authentication, or as they’re calling it, “two-step verification.” NCAN understands that this introduction will likely create barriers for students located in places with limited Internet or cell phone reception or in school districts that have restrictive cell phone and Internet policies. These barriers may bring a different array of questions to practitioners than in years past. To help prepare for this adjustment, NCAN has an article outlining the process, with tips and resources from FSA.

As always, NCAN is here to assist with FAFSA-related questions. Please feel free to contact info@ncan.org and let us know how we can be helpful!