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Lieutenant Governor Flanagan Encourages Students to Complete FAFSA



Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today joined the higher education community to urge students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Currently, FAFSA completion rates are down 20.5 percent nationally. In Minnesota, completions are down 16 percent from last year, due in part to technical difficulties associated the with new FAFSA form launched in December. The U.S. Department of Education has worked to address all issues with the form, and across the U.S. leaders are encouraging students to finish filing.

“A student’s financial aid package is often the determining factor in whether they enroll,” Lieutenant Governor Flanagan said. “In Minnesota, we have made historic investments to better support our students and break down financial barriers to ensure anyone who wants to attend college has that opportunity. To all Minnesotans: the time to apply for financial aid is now.”

With this decline in completion rates, the state’s current FAFSA filing rate is 33.3 percent. Increasing FAFSA completion has been a focus for state officials in recent years. In 2021, the State of Minnesota set a goal to increase FAFSA filing by five percentage points every year, with a focus on closing gaps in filing for Black, Indigenous, and other students of color.

Over $2.5 billion in financial aid is awarded in Minnesota every year. This includes federal, state, and institutional aid. Over the last few years, landmark new programs have been created to support students. These include the Fostering Independence Grant, which covers the full cost of attendance for Minnesotans who were in the foster care system and the North Star Promise program, which covers tuition and fees for students who earn less than $80,000 a year. But the only way for students to access these funds is by completing the FAFSA, or if they are undocumented Minnesotans, the Minnesota Dream Act.

“This is an all hands on deck moment,” said Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) Commissioner Dennis Olson. “Our students and families are not alone in navigating this process. From high school counselors to college financial aid staff to college access groups like College Possible and Achieve Twin Cities, the entire higher education community is scaling up our efforts to help each student though this process.”

Joining Lieutenant Governor Flanagan in her call to action was OHE Commissioner Dennis Olson and representatives from Minnesota State, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Private College Council, St. Thomas University, Augsburg University, Bethel University, Concordia University-Saint Paul, College Possible, Achieve Twin Cities, and LeadMN.

Flanagan announced that OHE has awarded two $15,000 grants to nonprofits College Possible and Achieve Twin Cities. These groups work directly with high school students in navigating each step of the college-going process. With the grants, both organizations will scale up their efforts over the summer, providing additional one-on-one support to Minnesotans.

OHE is also partnering the Minnesota Department of Education to get information on the FAFSA and Minnesota Dream Act directly into the hands of high school seniors and their families.

Contact information for organizations working to assist Minnesota families in completing their financial aid applications can be found here.

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