October 18, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Convenes First-Ever Summit Dedicated to Helping More High School Students Fill Out Their Financial Aid Forms

Governor Hochul Convenes First-Ever Summit Dedicated to Helping More High School Students Fill Out Their Financial Aid Forms

SUNY, CUNY, CICU, NYSED, HESC Discuss Strategies for Students to Complete the Simplified FAFSA Application

New York Students in 2022 Graduating Class Missed Out on $200 Million in Federal Financial Aid Due to Low FAFSA Completion Rate

Summit Coincides with College Application Month and Free Application Weeks at SUNY, CUNY, and 46 Independent Colleges and Universities

Governor Kathy Hochul today convened the State University of New York, City University of New York, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the New York State Education Department, and the Higher Education Services Corporation for the first-ever FAFSA Completion Strategy Summit. The summit, held in Albany, brought together key stakeholders, including high school guidance counselors, to discuss changes to the federal aid application, while strategizing ways to increase the FAFSA completion rate in New York State, which hovers around 50 percent.

“Access to higher education can change the trajectory of someone’s life, and all New York students deserve the opportunity to receive the financial support they need to achieve their degree,” Governor Hochul said. “I’m proud to convene this first-ever summit so that we can develop solutions to help potential students better understand the benefits available to them and increase the FAFSA completion rate. I look forward to working together to ensure all New Yorkers can invest in their education.”

Under the FAFSA Simplification Act, the 2024-2025 FAFSA application is expected to relaunch in December 2023 with changes to make it simpler to apply for federal aid, especially for students from lower-income families. Recently, SUNY launched the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps to help students complete the new federal application for college financial aid. SUNY received a nearly $300,000 grant from AmeriCorps to launch the initiative. CUNY has launched a new web guide to FAFSA boosting the information readily available to students and launched a #FileFAFSAEarly social media campaign to spread awareness about the benefits of filing FAFSA early and to encourage students to do so.

According to an analysis by the National College Attainment Network, high school graduates in the class of 2022 left $3.6 billion in Pell grants unclaimed nationwide by not completing the FAFSA. In New York State alone, the class of 2022 missed out on $200 million in federal aid by not completing the FAFSA. Studies have shown that students completing the FAFSA are more likely to attend college. About 90 percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA go to college directly after graduation, compared to just 55 percent of graduating seniors who do not complete the application.

Summit participants learned about promising practices from New York State high schools, as well as from four of the nine states that have implemented universal FAFSA policies for all high school students and significantly increased FAFSA completion rates as a result.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “A college education is a ticket for upward mobility; however, many prospective students never apply to or attend college because of their financial situation. In 2022, more than 80,000 graduating seniors in New York State did not complete the FAFSA application – leaving $200 million in federal financial aid on the table. By working with our K-12 and higher education partners across the state, we can increase the FAFSA completion rate and show students that a college education, especially at SUNY, is affordable and obtainable through state and federal aid. I thank our partners across our state for joining SUNY to help ensure New York students get the financial aid they need to attend and succeed in college.”

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, “Getting more students to complete financial aid forms will make college more affordable for many of them and in some cases, possible. That’s why it’s critical to find new ways to boost financial aid application rates. Today’s summit provided a novel opportunity to identify the practices that have encouraged more prospective college students to apply for financial aid in New York and across the country.”

Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Lola W. Brabham said, “The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a crucial tool in helping students and their families unlock financial aid to make their college dream a reality. Every year in New York, more than $200 million in Pell Grant funds are unclaimed because eligible students have not completed their FAFSA. Today’s completion strategy summit is imperative to ensuring that students and families receive the student aid they are entitled to.”

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr said, "A student's financial background should not limit access to higher education. The FAFSA program bridges the gap between students' aspirations and financial resources. Unfortunately, many students are missing out on these opportunities because they are unaware of them or believe they don't qualify. We must work together to increase FAFSA completions across the state and ensure that every student who wants to go to college can access every dollar of financial aid they are eligible for. It's time to work together to increase FAFSA completions, making higher education more attainable for all."

State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “The FAFSA form is the key that unlocks the door to higher education for so many New Yorkers. Too many students are falling through the cracks and not filling out the FAFSA form, meaning they are not learning about the various financial aid programs that might be available to them to help make their education goals a reality. Meaningful collaboration is essential to increasing FAFSA completion rates in our state, and with Governor Hochul’s leadership and by working with our partner agencies, we can make significant progress toward better supporting students in this process.”

Higher Education Services Corporation President Dr. Guillermo Linares said, “The FAFSA application process is pivotal in ensuring that every student has access to federal and New York State financial aid opportunities. Today’s FAFSA Summit provided an open forum for policymakers, educators, public servants and advocates to come together to share best practices and explore innovative solutions that help increase the number of students completing the FAFSA. By working together, we can ensure that every eligible student gains access to the resources they need to succeed.”

Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced that SUNY, CUNY, and 46 private colleges and universities in New York State will have free application opportunities for high school seniors throughout the month of October. This is the first time SUNY, CUNY, and New York’s private institutions have joined together to waive application fees for students applying during New York State College Application Month. Applicants can apply to up to five SUNY schools for free, a $250 savings.

The complete list of participating colleges and universities, information on when fees will be waived, and how to apply to each school can be found here.

HESC, SUNY, and CUNY have scheduled virtual and in-person events throughout the month to encourage students to learn more about the New York State financial aid, inform students about their college options, and assist them in completing their applications. For a list of more than 70 financial aid events hosted by HESC click here.

SUNY sessions can be found here and a list of more than 100 events hosted by CUNY can be found here.

The New York State College Application Month initiative encourages high school seniors to apply for college early with a focus on students from low-income families, first-generation students, and students who may not otherwise apply for college.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

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