Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
St. Paul, MNOne of the barriers to accessing higher education is financing the rising cost of tuition and fees. Unfortunately, too many students do not apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) are pleased to announce an initiative aimed at increasing enrollment in postsecondary education by raising awareness of the need to complete the FAFSA and offering students help in doing so.
Minnesota high schools are encouraged to apply for participation in the FAFSA Completion Project, administered by the U.S. Department of Education (the Department). Participating districts will have access to FAFSA completion data and student information about how to pursue a college education.
"Nationally, we know that 90 percent of students who complete a FAFSA will enroll in postsecondary education," said Larry Pogemiller, Director of OHE. "We are fortunate in Minnesota to have a FAFSA completion rate of 70 percent, well above the national rate of 59 percent, but still leaving too many students behind."
In 2010, the Department implemented the FAFSA Completion Project designed to assist local educational agencies and secondary school administrators in determining which of their students have completed a FAFSA for the upcoming school year. The initial implementation included 20 participants; aproximately 80 schools will be included in the expansion of the FAFSA Completion Project.
Districts with two or more high schools are invited to apply no later than March 2 for the opportunity of being selected through a randomized selection process. While at this time the project is limited to districts with at least two high schools, information will become available soon inviting districts with a single high school to also take part in the project.
"For many students, the rising cost of higher education is a major barrier in their road to success," Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. "Yet by 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require a postsecondary education. We must ensure every student has the tools they need to break down these barriers and succeed in school and in life."
Those districts that meet the technical and evaluation requirements and want to apply for the 2012-2013 FAFSA filing year should send an e-mail to Dena Bates at FAFSACompletion@ed.gov. Please include in the subject line "FAFSA Completion Project." The e-mail should include the name of the LEA and the name, position, e-mail address, and phone number(s) of a primary contact person. Requests to participate in the FAFSA Completion Project must be received no later than March 2, 2012. At the end of this period, entities will be chosen to participate in the FAFSA Completion Project through a standard randomized process.
For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, 651-2590-3902 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.