AZ FAF$A Challenge

October 2019 Newsletter

Take The FAF$A Challenge

The Arizona FAF$A Challenge is back for it's second year with more exciting friendly FAFSA competitions and incentives! This school year, Arizona has set a goal to achieve a 52% FAFSA completion rate among its high school seniors. All seniors are encouraged to complete the FAFSA to help fund their college education and to help reach our state goal.

FAFSA Completion Dashboard

The Arizona FAF$A Completion Dashboard is now available! Schools are able to view their FAFSA completion progress throughout the school year, and compare their FAFSA completion rates year-to-date. The dashboard is updated every Friday and contains FAFSA data for over 400 high schools throughout Arizona. As of October 18th, Arizona has achieved a 12% FAFSA completion rate, with a little over 9,000 completed FAFSA's on file. This is a great accomplishment that Arizona has reached in just 3 weeks since the 2020-2021 FAFSA became available.

Mini-FAFSA Challenge Winners!

This year, the Arizona FAF$A Challenge added the "Mini- FAFSA Challenge" to its list of friendly FAFSA challenges. This is a monthly award presented to the schools with the highest FAFSA completion rate for their senior enrollment category.

Our October 2019 Mini-FAFSA Challenge winners are....

October 2019 Most Innovative Player

The Governor’s Office of Education and The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education are pleased to award Desert Edge High School with the October 2019 Most Innovative Player Award! Working as a team, Desert Edge High School has built a college-going community for their students. Realizing the importance of the FAFSA, they have built FAFSA completion into their senior government class curriculum. They also celebrate their students with a college signing day celebration at the end of the year which includes 2-year, 4-year, vocational, and military partners who attend to assist in celebrating their seniors.

Last year, Desert Edge High School was consistency in the top 5 schools leading the way in FAFSA completion.This year we are thrilled to award them as the October 2019 Most Innovative player and share their best practices!

FAFSA Best Practices

FAFSA 101 Presentation to Prepare Students: In September, the Career Center Specialist at Desert Edge High School visits each of the senior Government classes to conduct a 20-minute presentation on the basics of FAFSA. The presentation explains what the FAFSA is and why its important to complete, what documents are needed, types of financial aid, how to apply, and next steps-what happens after you submit a FAFSA.

This fun YouTube Video about FAFSA helps get the students attention before the presentation:

District FAFSA Night: Desert Edge High School participates in their district-wide FAFSA event. The school promotes the event to students and their families as part of a district collaborative effort. Agua Fria High School District also coordinates with its college access partners to ensure that students and their families have assistance with the FAFSA.

FAFSA Assignment: Government teachers assign all of their senior classes to complete the FAFSA as an assignment. Students must complete the FAFSA and show their Government teacher their FAFSA confirmation page OR if a student is unable to complete the FAFSA then they complete an essay on the purpose of the FAFSA. As an incentive, the Government class with the highest number of FAFSA assignments completed wins a pizza party to celebrate!

Tracking Progress: The Career Center Specialist, Jim Craven, runs a FAFSA Finish Line report each week to distribute to the Government teachers so that they can track who has completed the assignment or reach out to the students who have an incomplete application on file. He also follows up weekly with individual students who have not completed the assignment to be sure they don't have any questions about FAFSA completion.

Administrative Support : A large part of their success comes from the support of their school administration encouraging their FAFSA efforts. Desert Edge works as a team with their administration, teachers, counselors, and career specialist to ensure that FAFSA completion is a team effort and that all of their students are college and career ready when they graduate.

Desert Edge Most Innovative October 2019 Winner!

Desert Edge High School has also provided some FAFSA Finish Line Helpful Tips

Jim Cravens FAFSA Finish Line Data Tips

Wrong Academic Year: (2019-20 instead of 2020-21). Many students received congratulatory emails from FAFSA not realizing it was for the incorrect year. These students can be identified by pulling the FAFSA Finish Line report for the prior year (2019-2020 FAFSA). If they show up on that list, they must complete it again for the correct year (2020-2021 FAFSA).

Partial Matches: The FAFSA Finish Line data retrieval searches for Last Name, First Name, DOB, and Zip Code. If only three of these match, it is a Partial Match and not counted as complete. The most common error is the spelling of the last name, particularly those with two last names and the use of hyphens (or not). The second most common partial match is a different zip code used for FAFSA than what appears in the school data base. I went to each of these "Partial Match" students and asked them to help me determine the non-matching item. Once identified, change the data on the spreadsheet uploaded to FAFSA Finish Line and check to see if it now matches. You may have to ask the student to pull up their FAFSA account to see what doesn't match.

Missing signatures: Often the result of parents who have not signed electronically. In some cases they may be required to send in a hard copy of the signature page. This takes some additional time to process. I notify the students of the issue and remind them of the importance of this step.

Nominate your School for the November - Most Innovative Player!

The award recognizes high schools and community organizations each month throughout the school year for their innovative efforts and work towards FAFSA completion.

Anyone can submit a nomination, so we encourage counselors, teachers, students, parents and the community to nominate their high school or community organization that they feel deserves the award!

  • November – Click HERE to submit a Nomination
  • December
  • January
  • February