It’s October, and state leaders are encouraging high school seniors to apply for college and federal college aid.
And another national website shows Idaho is playing catchup.
In 2020, 46.3 percent of Idaho high school seniors filled out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to Data Insight Partners, a Las Vegas firm that tracks national FAFSA completion rates.
That number put Idaho ahead of only six other states, all in the West: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
The FAFSA is a critical online form, which students must complete in order to apply for federal student loans, grants or work-study aid. Students also must fill out the FAFSA in order to apply for the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship.
While state leaders consider the FAFSA a linchpin to college access and affordability, the Data Insight Partners research also suggests a troubling trend. In 2019-20, 10,610 Idaho high school seniors filled out a FAFSA — a 3 percent decrease from the previous year.
The 2021-22 FAFSA filing period opened on Oct. 1. And in Idaho, it coincides with the annual push to encourage high school seniors to pursue college. On the Apply Idaho website, seniors can download their direct admissions college acceptance letter, and fill out college applications, free of charge.
The State Board of Education also is encouraging seniors to fill out a FAFSA as quickly as possible, since colleges can run out of aid quickly.
“This year’s high school seniors haven’t had a typical high school experience because of COVID-19, but there are many opportunities waiting for them,” said Byron Yankey, the State Board’s college and career advising program manager.