Student with counselor looking at a laptop
Molokaʻi High School and Mckinley High School tied for first place in the 2018 Cash for College challenge.

A new online tool to track completion rates for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, submittals was launched by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE). Hawaiʻi’s FAFSA Data Dashboard tracks the current number of completed applications at high schools statewide and illustrates schools’ progress individually and comparatively to other schools. The dashboard is a key component to HIDOE and the University of Hawaiʻi’s Cash for College Challenge aimed at increasing FAFSA application completion.

FAFSA applications by high school seniors is a critical measure that serves as one predictor for college entrance. Since the opening of the FAFSA application period on October 1, 2018, 42 percent of high school seniors have completed their applications as of January 11. That is an increase of three percentage points from the same time last year, and Hawaiʻi is ranked eleventh nationally.

“Each year the federal government offers more than $150 billion in federal student aid to help students pay for college, including free grant money that does not need to be repaid, along with scholarships, loans and tuition assistance,” said HIDOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “FAFSA applications open the door to college access for our graduates.”

Cash for College Challenge encourages FAFSA completion

HIDOE has set a goal to have 70 percent of high school seniors complete the FAFSA in school year 2018 and 90 percent in 2020. HIDOE, Hawaiʻi P–20 and UH have teamed up for the Cash for College Challenge. $40,000 in prize money is available for senior classes at schools that show the highest completion rates and largest increases.

“Completing the FAFSA unlocks a world of opportunity for financial support at every one of our University of Hawaiʻi campuses,” said UH President David Lassner. “We are doing everything we can to eliminate the financial barriers for everyone in Hawaiʻi to enjoy the many benefits of higher education, from increased earnings and longer lives to better health and more fulfilling community engagement.”

For more information on the FAFSA Data Dashboard and the Cash for College Challenge, read the HIDOE news release.