The FAFSA Challenge


Tyler Dyer, News Editor

Forty high schools from 19 school districts across the state will be participating in the 2021-22 Connecticut FAFSA Challenge, according to Connecticut’s governor Ned Lamont. In a news release, Gov. Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker introduced the initiative designed to increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rates, improve post-secondary access, and close learning and opportunity gaps among high schools school students throughout the state. According to the release, FAFSA completion is one of the best predictors of whether seniors will pursue higher education. FAFSA is vital to making post-secondary education more accessible for students since more than 70% of jobs in the state require an education beyond high school.
“I’m proud to see these schools prioritizing FAFSA completion through the FAFSA Challenge and working to increase the number of students who can access financial aid for college and career school,” Lamont said in the release. “It’s a terrific demonstration of how Connecticut is using federal relief dollars to spark new thinking in our schools and support students achieve critical post-secondary milestones.”
The FAFSA Challenge is now entering its second year and features more participating schools. Participating schools will pilot creative strategies to help students and families complete the FAFSA and access resources to support college affordability. As part of the challenge, schools are encouraged to increase FAFSA completion rates by 5% by June 2022. Last year, schools had increased their completion rates by 4%.
The FAFSA challenge will provide schools with microgrants to develop strategies that will build awareness of the federal form and provide families support when completing the forms. It features programs from Connecticut RISE Network, a local nonprofit organization that brings schools together monthly to review data, share practices, and engage in problem-solving. The Department of Education and RISE Network will work while aspiring for free virtual training sessions on FAFSA for educators. The training will be available to all high schools, and registration details will be announced in the coming weeks.