Report: “FAFSA Filing Among First-Year College Students: Who Files on Time, Who Doesn’t, and Why Does It Matter?” (The paper has been accepted for publication in Research in Higher Education and is available from the authors upon request.)
Authors: Lyle McKinney, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Houston, and Heather Novak, a statistical analyst in the office of institutional research at Colorado State University at Fort Collins
Summary: The researchers studied the behavior of first-year students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at community colleges, public four-year colleges, and private nonprofit four-year colleges using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study. They examined characteristics associated with late versus early filing of the application, known as the Fafsa, and made the following findings:
- Community-college students are especially likely to not file a Fafsa or to file it late.
- Late filers receive less total state and institutional grant aid, on average, than do those who file early.
- Delaying college entry and attending part time are strongly associated with not filing a Fafsa or filing it late.
- The additional grant aid received by early Fafsa filers over late ones would be enough to support students taking an additional course during their first year.
Bottom Line: The results of the study suggest that Fafsa-completion efforts should be focused on high-school students who are likely to attend community colleges and on students who enroll late at community colleges.