State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps, which will help prospective students complete the new federal application for college financial aid. SUNY received a nearly $300,000 grant from AmeriCorps to launch the initiative, which will begin with 48 students across six SUNY campuses.
SUNY Old Westbury is among the initial campuses participating.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application is expected to relaunch in December 2023 with changes to make it simpler to apply. The FAFSA Completion Corps will be comprised of current SUNY students selected and trained to provide in-person assistance helping more New Yorkers complete the FAFSA, which is the starting point for most federal and state financial aid.
"The financial aid process can be cumbersome and confusing, especially for first-generation students, so many of whom our campus serves,” said SUNY Old Westbury President Timothy E. Sams. “Peer-to-peer education and assistance offers a wonderful opportunity to help prospective students overcome this challenge. We are proud to have our students be part of the FAFSA Completion Corps."
According to SUNY, about half of high school students complete their FAFSA application, leaving hundreds of millions in federal and state financial aid untouched and lessening their chance at a college education.
“SUNY is an extraordinary value proposition, and more than half of SUNY undergraduates are able to attend tuition-free thanks to state and federal financial aid,” said SUNY Chancellor King. “We are excited to launch the FAFSA Completion Corps so more New Yorkers can receive the financial aid they deserve. Across SUNY, we are using every tool we have to help New Yorkers be fully informed of their college options and know how to get available funding.”
An analysis by the National College Attainment Network showed that the high school class of 2022 left about $3.6 billion in Pell Grants nationwide unclaimed by not completing the FAFSA; in New York State, $200 million was left unclaimed in Pell Grants.
Studies have shown that students completing the FAFSA are more likely to go to college. About 90% of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA go to college directly after graduation, compared to just 55% of seniors who do not complete the FAFSA. The impact is dramatically higher for high school students in the lowest socioeconomic quintile, as FAFSA completion is correlated with a 127% increase in immediate post-secondary enrollment.
As part of the program, at the end of the AmeriCorps service term, students will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which may be used to repay qualified loans and to pay current educational expenses at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs.