Paying for college is challenging, but receiving some financial aid can ease the burden on students and families. South Dakota school counselors and administrators agree it is important for students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA). However, a majority of those same school officials surveyed this fall report needing additional assistance to encourage students to fill out the FAFSA and enroll in postsecondary education.
The survey was conducted as part of a statewide FAFSA completion initiative, a project led by the South Dakota Board of Regents. Mapping Your Future, a non-profit providing college access assistance in South Dakota, joined with the South Dakota Department of Education and other higher education officials to conduct the survey.
FAFSA completion is a major goal of the Free College Application Campaign, where application fees at South Dakota colleges and universities are being waived through Tuesday, November 30th. Completion of the FAFSA, which is an indicator of postsecondary pursuit, has dropped nationally since the onset of the pandemic in spring 2020. South Dakota’s FAFSA completion rate, which was increasing prior to the pandemic, has also decreased.
The survey’s purpose was to identify student and parent barriers to FAFSA completion, the role administrators and counselors play in helping students complete the FAFSA, and new opportunities to provide FAFSA completion support to students, parents, administrators, and counselors.