All In For Financial Aid
What is California’s new #Allin4FinancialAid Policy?
As of January 2022, California has a new financial aid application completion requirement for local educational agencies (LEAs), including high schools, school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. LEAs must ensure that high school seniors are completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) (California Budget 2021-22 and AB 469). LEAs are responsible for implementing this requirement when the new financial aid application season launches on October 1, 2022.
How is California Doing on Financial Aid Completion?
California educates approximately 1 out of every 10 K-12 students in the nation. Alarmingly, thousands of aid-eligible students from lower-income communities and students of color attend high schools with some of the lowest financial aid application rates in the state. Students who would benefit the most from financial aid are less likely to apply. Only 50% of California’s senior class of 2021 completed the FAFSA or CADAA.
Why is the #Allin4FinancialAid Policy important?
In Ed Trust—West’s Hidden Figures brief, we estimated that $550 million in federal and state aid could be left on the table if California schools and districts don’t do more to reduce racial equity gaps in financial aid completion rates. California ranks number one across the nation in unused aid, leaving the most Pell Grant dollars on the table due in part to low financial aid application completions. These funds are critical to enabling more students from low-income communities to access higher education or vocational certificates.
How can Local Education Agencies (LEAs) Implement California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy?
One of the most significant barriers to attaining a degree is college affordability–but it does not have to be. Beginning October 1, 2022, all local educational agencies in California are responsible for ensuring that their high school seniors complete and submit the FAFSA, CADAA, or opt-out. It’s time to inform all high school seniors and their parents/guardians that aid is available to help them attend college. Explore the recommendations and implementation resources below:
We encourage LEAs to set a goal to reach or exceed 80% financial aid application completion for all high school seniors. Setting goals will support your LEA in establishing shared objectives to focus actions, prioritizing available resources, and engaging in goal-oriented practices that prioritize as a county-district-school-community–wide effort. Establish friendly competition and celebrate your students, high schools, districts, and county offices of education for success in increasing financial aid application completion rates and developing a college-going culture.
⇒ Activity: Do you know your school’s/district’s current financial aid completion rate? Click here to learn. Based on this information, what financial aid completion rate could you set as a goal for your school/district? For example, increase FAFSA/CADAA completion rate in my district to 85% by 2023-24.
- Check out step-by-step videos on how to complete a financial aid application by Visalia Unified School District’s College & Career Readiness Department
- Review “Funding Financial Aid Completion Efforts in California by Utilizing Different Funding Sources” by The Education Trust–West
- Download this PowerPoint that provides an overview of California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy to present to your staff and team
- Download this Implementation Worksheet to utilize with your staff and team as you work on implementing California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy
- Download Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Local Education Agencies about California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy by The Education Trust–West
- Review Building a College Going-Culture and Celebrating Students’ Financial Aid Efforts by The Education Trust
- Take a self-assessment designed to help you decide where to strengthen your FAFSA/CADAA efforts and provide you with tools
⇒ Activity: What funding sources can your school/district utilize to fund financial aid completion efforts? Click here to learn.
Ed Trust—West is happy to partner with your high school, district, and county office of education to assist with implementing California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy. Contact us to request a FREE briefing.
Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth by John Burton Advocates for Youth
Financial Aid Guide for California Homeless Youth by John Burton Advocates for Youth
Financial Aid Checklist for CA Dream Act Application (CADAA) by Immigrants Rising
California Dream Act Overview by Immigrants Rising
California Dream Act Map, outlining the four phases required to successfully complete the CA Dream Act Application and receive all financial aid for which you are eligible, by Immigrants Rising
A Parent’s Guide to Financial Aid by GO Public Schools
Student and Parent resources by California Student Aid Commission
Financial Aid Checklist for Students and Parents by California Student Aid Commission
⇒ Activity: What are the financial aid completion rates of racial/ethnic student groups, foster youth, homeless youth, and undocumented students at your school/district? How will you design targeted outreach to support these student populations?
Communication: We have crafted a sample outreach email that you can use to reach out to organizations for help with California’s #Allin4FinancialAid Policy
Vendor List of Organizations: We have compiled a vendor list of organizations across the state that can support your high school, district, and county office of education with financial aid completion.
While this policy is new to California, many known best practices exist. For example, LEAs can collect financial aid application completion data for every high school senior to monitor progress and target specific resources for students who face barriers to completion or need extra assistance. LEAs can also identify community-based and partner organizations in their region to support via workshops, application support appointments, and special events. Lastly, since it can be of great help to schedule private meetings with students and their parents/guardians, strengthening systems to contact families may be necessary. To learn more, check out our Financial Aid Toolbox.