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New Tools Announced Aimed at Increasing Financial Aid Awards


FAFSA completion key to federal and state financial aid awards

Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

St. Paul, MN--Two new digital tools released by the U. S. Department of Education aim to increase the number of students receiving federal and state financial aid.

A letter from Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, went out today to every high school superintendent in the state, informing them of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) FAFSA Completion Tool and the Financial Aid Toolkit. Both are designed to help high school principals and counselors identify which students need to fill out the FAFSA, and to encourage students and parents to fill out the FAFSA together.

Filling out the FAFSA is a necessary step to receiving student aid, including the two largest need-based grant programs, the federal Pell Grant and the Minnesota State Grant. FAFSA completion is also needed for federal loans and most institutional aid.

"One of the biggest barriers to accessing higher education is financing the rising costs of tuition and fees," said Larry Pogemiller, Commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE). "While the FAFSA completion rate in Minnesota is higher than the national average, there are still students and families missing out on financial assistance because they fail to take this first step."

According to a report prepared by the Office of Higher Education in 2011, 77 percent of Minnesota resident undergraduates completed the FAFSA in the fall of 2009. The older a student gets, the less likely they are to complete the FAFSA, with a completion rate of 60 percent for student over the age of 35.

Students of color complete the FAFSA at higher rates (78% in fall 2008; 89% in fall 2009) than their white peers (71% in fall 2008; 75% in fall 2009).

Fifty-eight percent of high school seniors completed the FAFSA in 2012-2013; 70 percent of those students enrolled in postsecondary education.

Nationally, the reasons students cited for not completing the FAFSA include not thinking they would qualify, they found the form long and confusing and they had no need for federal student aid. Over the past three years, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education has significantly increased its efforts to make more students and families aware of the need to fill out the FAFSA, as well as offering assistance with completion.

Currently, the FAFSA takes an average of only 23 minutes to complete online, and is entirely free and secure.

For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at

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