Guest Post from NCAN: FAFSA Submissions Are Down 40+%; How to Find Your Schools’ Data

February 29, 2024

Last month on this blog, I wrote about the hurdles associated with the 2024-25 FAFSA, which class of 2024 seniors are submitting this year. Unfortunately, those hurdles still exist. Through mid-February, seniors have submitted 42% fewer FAFSAs than last year, according to the FAFSA Tracker published by my organization, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN).

As a reminder:

  • The FAFSA is so different from previous years that every practitioner needs training (or at least PD) on the new process, which pulls student and family federal tax information directly in from the IRS and ideally streamlines the process considerably.
  • Colleges and universities won’t receive the information students submitted until mid-March at the earliest, which means that award letters will not likely arrive until at least April. With College Decision Day traditionally being May 1, this gives students a much smaller window to consider their pathways after high school.
  • NCAN has a Better FAFSA resources page with resources you can share with staff, students, and families.
  • Still have ESSER dollars to spend? Secretary Cardona’s November 2022 “Dear Colleague,” letter advises that “[Providing] strong career and college advisement and navigation supports” is an allowable use for remaining American Rescue Plan funds. The letter highlights how North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction used ESSER dollars to work with the National College Advising Corps on “helping students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and postsecondary applications and carrying out other activities to foster a college-going culture within the schools they serve.”

A big update since the last post is that “mixed status families,” where one or more “contributor” (parents or guardians) do not have a Social Security Number, can now submit the form (using a complicated, temporary nine-step fix). This workaround can help students record a submission date to satisfy earlier priority aid deadlines from institutions, private scholarships, or state aid programs. We expect a more permanent fix from the U.S. Department of Education “in the first half of March.”

Given the declines in FAFSA submission we are seeing nationwide, it’s going to be extremely important that districts, schools, and their partners all put their shoulder to the wheel to help students access the financial aid they need for college.

A good first step here is understanding where your high school (or schools) is in terms of FAFSA submission. (Later on we’ll get data on completions, too, but FAFSAs aren’t being processed yet, so there are no completions to report.) Here’s how to get that info:

  1. Visit The FAFSA data are updated every Friday and include FAFSA submission data through the previous Friday.
  2. Under “FAFSA Data by State/Territory,” pick your state or territory to download a Microsoft Excel file.
  3. Look up schools either by NCES ID (column A) or name (column B). Submissions for the class of 2024 through the date at the top of the Excel are in column E, and submissions through the same date for the class of 2023 are in column G.
  4. To have a sense of the FAFSA “finish line” total submissions for the class of 2023 (through June 30, 2023), view column I.
  5. Once we have FAFSA completions, the worksheet titled “District Level Data” will estimate the percentage of seniors who have completed a FAFSA.

Alternatively, use NCAN’s FAFSA Tracker, which visualizes these data at the national, state, and local levels:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the tab at the top titled “School Submissions by Cycle”
  3. Use the dropdowns to select your state, district, and school. If a school you’re searching for doesn’t appear, set District to “All” and try again.
  4. Have questions, comments, or concerns? Reach out to me at

AASA is working NCAN and will continue to keep you abreast of news, updates, and resources that can help to make this FAFSA cycle run smoother. Although the new FAFSA means expanded Pell Grant eligibility and increased Pell Grant awards for many students, the class of 2024 still faces significant challenges this spring to get back to the levels of FAFSA completion previous classes have achieved.