Takeaway: Achieve Atlanta's FAFSA success guide shares lessons and tips for urban school leaders or school district staff interested in raising FAFSA awareness and completion in their community.

In 2016, the percentage of APS students who had completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) the previous year was 51%. Reflecting the national trend, APS students and their families were leaving valuable federal aid on the table, which made their transition from high school to post-secondary study that much harder. For many families, college was simply out of reach for financial reasons.

In response, Achieve Atlanta made it a priority to improve FAFSA completion rates among Atlanta Public Schools students, believing that in addition to the obvious financial benefits, the experience of completing the FAFSA might build momentum to successfully navigate the path to college. At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Achieve Atlanta engaged in a series of deliberate action steps aimed at driving FAFSA completion among that year’s Senior class. The positive results were striking, as almost 300 more families completed the FAFSA than the year before, boosting the previously stagnant completion percentage by 10 points.

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