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Mississippi FAFSA Update Through March 15

Understanding the current data on FAFSA completion in Mississippi

Author: Bill DeBaun, Senior Director, National College Attainment Network

The 2024-25 FAFSA has thrown practitioners, policymakers, and the public a lot of curveballs this spring, to put it mildly, but it’s worth looking at the data to understand our current circumstances. Through March 15, FAFSA submissions for class of 2024 in Mississippi are down -37.6%. This amounts to an estimated 29.7% FAFSA submission rate for the class of 2024, which is a decline of 17.9 percentage points.

All in all, 5,734 fewer Mississippi seniors have submitted a FAFSA so far this year.

These data come from a FAFSA Tracker from the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), which transforms publicly-available high school-level data on submissions and completions into an interactive dashboard at the national, state, and local levels.

The current FAFSA submission performances leave Mississippi ranked 49th nationally by year-over-year percent change in FAFSA submissions and 31st by estimated percentage of seniors submitting.

Notably, this data and these ranks reflect FAFSA submissions, which may include FAFSAs with errors that need to be corrected, and not completions. In previous years, submissions have been about 7% larger than completions.

Nationally through March 15, FAFSA submissions are down 30.7%. The national class of 2024 FAFSA submission rate is an estimated 32.3% compared to 47.5% through the same date for the class of 2023. The difference represents nearly 600,000 fewer seniors who have submitted a FAFSA.

When we think about this year’s seniors catching up to the class of 2023, there needs to be an understanding that patterns of FAFSA submission often differ according to high schools’ demographics. For example:

  • Low-income high schools where half or more students are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch have an estimated FAFSA submission rate of 29.5% while their higher-income high school peers have a rate of 37.2%.
  • Similarly, schools that enroll fewer than 40% Black and Hispanic students have a submission rate of 37.2% compared to 30.7% for schools enrolling significant populations of these students.
  • City, suburban, small town, and rural high schools have about the same estimated levels of FAFSA submission through March 15.

Additional insights from NCAN’s FAFSA Tracker include:

  • Of more than 16,000 U.S. public high schools with FAFSA submission data, only about 13% have a positive year-over-year percent change in submissions through March 15.
  • States’ outcomes vary considerably. Ohio currently has the smallest year-over-year percent change at -19.3% while Tennessee’s FAFSA submissions have declined about 46% since last year.
  • To reach last year’s June 30 FAFSA completion rate, at least 1.5% of the class of 2024 will have to complete a FAFSA every week for the next nine weeks.

In response to the on-going challenges, the following resources will be valuable for practitioners, policymakers, the press, and the public:

  • NCAN’s Better FAFSA Resources include toolkits, training opportunities, social media collateral, FAQs, and other resources related to understanding the 2024-25 FAFSA.
  • NCAN’s FAFSA Tracker will continue to be updated every Friday afternoon with the latest FAFSA submission and completion data for high school seniors across the country.
  • NCAN continues to maintain a list of financial aid application deadline dates for state financial aid programs and university systems. NCAN strongly advises states and institutions to provide maximum flexibility for FAFSA filers and their families.

For additional information and resources, visit www.ncan.org and www.ncanfafsatracker.org. Have questions about the FAFSA Tracker? Email me at debaunb@ncan.org.