Education Department ramps up FAFSA outreach to bridge completion disparity

The U.S. Department of Education is intensifying its efforts to address the challenges hampering the rollout of the enhanced Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. To assist high schools, states, and private and nonprofit organizations in enhancing FAFSA completion rates among high school seniors, the department unveiled more technical and outreach support.

The focal point of this initiative involves a $50 million investment in organizations collaborating with schools and districts to expand college access and enrollment. ECMC, a nonprofit student loan management company, will spearhead the outreach campaign to promote FAFSA awareness.

The allocated funds aim to bolster the organizations’ capacity by deploying more advisers, counselors, and coaches to aid students and partners throughout the FAFSA application process. This includes offering FAFSA application appointments and events during extended hours, including evenings, weekends, and summer.

Moreover, resources will be designated for FAFSA submission clinics at the local level, facilitating transportation as necessary. Efforts will be made to communicate with parents and students via text, phone calls, and video conferences in multiple languages.

“Our objective is to engage with local, state, and regional partners across the country to emphasize the significance of encouraging all college-bound high school seniors to complete their FAFSA form, ensuring they receive optimal financial assistance for their higher education pursuits,” stated Cindy Marten, deputy U.S. secretary of education, during a recent press briefing.

FAFSA completion rates decline

Marten also reiterated the department’s commitment to narrowing the FAFSA completion disparity. The federal deadline for completing the

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