Takeaway: 1) Don't reinvent the wheel. 2) Coordinate efforts. 3) Provide one-on-one help. Read more lessons learned from the Kresge Foundation's review of the 2016-17 FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant Initiative participants.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary mechanism through which postsecondary students gain access to federal, state, and institutional financial aid. In order to encourage cities to take advantage of recent changes in the FAFSA, The Kresge Foundation partnered with the National College Access Network (NCAN) to launch the FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant Initiative during the 2016-17 school year. The grant program was designed to support metro-wide efforts to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors, and 22 cities were selected for the initiative.

By June 2017, most of the participating cities had succeeded in increasing their FAFSA-completion rates over previous years. The average FAFSA-completion rate for high school seniors in these cities increased to 54.6%. Ten of the 22 participating cities saw their completion rates increase by more than 5 percentage points compared to June 2015, and only four cities had a drop in the completion rate. Three cities—Greensboro, North Carolina; Charleston, West Virginia; and Los Angeles, California—had FAFSA-completion rates above 60%.

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