White House Encourages More Students to Apply for Financial Aid

March 07, 2014

[Updated (3/7/2014, 3:58 p.m.) after the president's announcement.]

President Obama announced on Friday a push to get more students to apply for federal student aid.

Under the president’s "Fafsa Completion Initiative," the Department of Education will help states identify students who haven’t completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa, so the states can focus their completion efforts on those students.

The collaboration builds on a pilot that the department began in 2010 with 100 school districts.

Filling out the Fafsa is a necessary step in applying for Pell Grants and other forms of federal student aid, and the form's complexity has been seen as a deterrent for some young people. The Obama administration has already taken several steps to simplify the form, including allowing filers to bypass some questions online and to automatically fill in other questions with income data from the Internal Revenue Service.

The first lady, Michelle Obama, who accompanied the president as he announced the new initiative in Miami, recently encouraged high-school students to fill out the form and to take other steps necessary to go on to college.

The White House also announced on Friday that the department had updated its "Fafsa Completion Tool" to include Fafsa-completion numbers for the high-school graduating class of 2014, and was expanding that tool to include more than 25,000 high schools nationwide.

The announcement came three days after the White House released a budget that proposed billions of dollars in new spending for colleges, states, and students.