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Arizona Students Jump On College Aid Applications
This year Arizona high school seniors reversed a four-year drop off in federal financial aid applications.
Nationwide, more than 14 million students, about 61 percent of seniors, completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as a FAFSA.
In Arizona, 36,000 high school seniors filed for federal financial aid. An increase of almost 17 percent over the previous year and one of the biggest jumps in the country.
“In the past, one of the biggest challenges was the timing,” said Mary Wrobel, a counselor at Phoenix’s Metro Tech High School, in an intervierw with KJZZ earlier this year.
Students had the option to start the application three months earlier and they were also able to use tax information from the previous year.
Schools such as Metro Tech High School are also using data to target students who have not completed or started their applications. More than half, 55 percent of seniors there completed FAFSA applications this year — the highest rate in the Phoenix Union High School District.
“Their faces get so bright when they hit submit and it comes up that they got a Pell Grant,” Wrobel said. “They’re like, ‘What, I just did that? I got almost $6,000 free to go to school, and it wasn’t that painful.’”
The National College Access Network reports students who fill out a FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to go to college.
“Being able to see the financial aid available to them is an encouraging factor for students to let them know that higher education is possible,” said Carrie Warick, the group’s director of policy and advocacy.