Press Release

As California’s March 2 financial aid deadline approaches, Ed Trust–West calls for renewed effort to ensure that all high school seniors complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications

OAKLAND, CA (February 25, 2014) – An analysis of newly available FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Cal Grant application data from the California Student Aid Commission released today by The Education Trust—West finds that while the number of California high school seniors who complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications is up from last year, there are still too many students across the state who are not applying for financial aid.

The new data reveal that the number of high school seniors who completed FAFSA and Cal Grant applications rose from 2012 to 2013, from 54 percent to 61 percent for FAFSA and from 50 percent to 58 percent respectively. Still, the fact remains that nearly 170,000 12th graders (42%) from the class of 2013 did not complete a Cal Grant application. The new findings can be found in the latest ““Equity Alert”” brief from The Education Trust—West, titled, Doorways to College Aid, the follow up to last year’’s full report, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California. The brief also includes a list of the Top 100 high schools in California for FAFSA completion.

““We are glad to see the increases in FAFSA completion and Cal Grant application rates, but there are still far too many students falling through the cracks,”” said Dr. Orville Jackson, Senior Research Analyst at The Education Trust—West, a statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization. ““Our research gives us a good sense of what works to get more students to apply for aid and go to college. The challenge now is to get those practices spread to schools and districts across California.””

The brief reveals that schools and districts using data driven practices, including an electronic Grade Point Average (GPA) verification for their high school seniors outperformed other districts by 15 percent, with an average Cal Grant completion rate of 71 percent compared to 56 percent for other districts. As one of the main policy recommendations offered in the brief, The Education Trust—West is enthusiastically supporting AB 2160, legislation introduced last week by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that would require all public high schools to electronically submit verifications of student GPAs to the California Student Aid Commission.

““Education is the greatest gift we can give to our children,”” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), author of AB 2160.  ““California is providing more help than ever to help families pay for college but too many students leave aid on the table.  Students who apply for aid are twice as likely to enroll in college and more likely to graduate.  This simple solution will ensure more students get help getting ahead.””

For a copy of Doorways to College Aid, click here.  To get a copy of the Addendum, featuring a list of the Top 100 high schools in California for FAFSA completion, click here. To access our California Financial Aid Tracker and to see how well schools and districts are doing in getting students to complete applications for college financial aid across the state, click here. The web tool provides data on every public high school in California for which data is available showing the percentage of 12th graders who completed a FAFSA or a Cal Grant application. The web tool also presents data on how these rates changed from the class of 2012 to the class of 2013. Data can be broken down by school, school district, or legislative (Assembly or Senate) district.


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About The Education Trust—–West
The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.