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Mississippi Ranks Third in FAFSA Completion 

Federal Student Aid Application Expected to Open by December 31 

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2023
Contact: Morgan Miller, (601) 321-5527; mmiller@woodwardhines.org  

JACKSON, MISS. – Mississippi now ranks third in the nation in completion of the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion. According to the National College Attainment Network’s Form Your Future national FAFSA Tracker, 70.1% of Mississippi’s 2023 graduating seniors have completed their 2023-24 FAFSA. The FAFSA is the federal application processed by colleges that provides access to various federal funding options such as need-based aid such as Pell, Federal Work-Study, and, if needed, Federal student loans. The Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid and some private scholarship providers also use information from the FAFSA. 

“This ranking continues to validate the work that many educators, teachers, counselors, advisors, career coaches, and mentors are doing to support Mississippi’s high school graduates’ next-step plans after high school graduation,” said Jim McHale, President and CEO of Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF). “Our Get2College program offers a unique resource in the state that supports education professionals, students, and families to create a college-going culture, including education and support in completing the FAFSA.” 

Get2College is WHEF’s flagship program, which provides free college counseling to anyone in Mississippi who requests it. The program also offers professional development for educators in College and Career Readiness (CCR), FAFSA, and college access.  

While a growing trend in state legislation across the country has been to mandate FAFSA completion for graduation or access to free college programs, Mississippi has taken a different approach. The College & Career Readiness class, required as a graduation requirement in Mississippi public schools since the class of 2022, includes financial aid education and financial literacy as units. The staff at Get2College create the workbook that accompanies the CCR courses in schools annually. 

“Mississippi’s FAFSA completion rates for high school seniors have been impressive for as long as I’ve been tracking the FAFSA,” says Bill DeBaun, Senior Director at the National College Attainment Network in Washington, D.C. “The Woodward Hines Education Foundation and its Get2College program have been a model for how to achieve high levels of FAFSA completion statewide.” 

Research conducted on Mississippi high school graduates in 2019 by the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University found that the leading indicator of Mississippi’s student enrollment in any form of postsecondary was completing the FAFSA. Students who completed their FAFSA were four times more likely to enroll in a postsecondary program following high school graduation. 

Nationally, seniors who complete the FAFSA are 84% more likely to immediately enroll in postsecondary education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For students in the lowest socioeconomic quintile, FAFSA completion is associated with a 127% increase in immediate college enrollment. 

FAFSA Changes This Year 

Each year, the upcoming aid year’s FAFSA opens on October 1. Due to the FAFSA simplification changes required by federal legislation under the FUTURE ACT, Federal Student Aid announced the 2024-2025 FAFSA application will open by December 31, 2023. The high school graduating class of 2024 will be the first group to have a more streamlined FAFSA to complete in exchange for less time to complete the form. According to Federal Student Aid, the October 1 opening date will resume in 2024. 

Get2College is ready to help the class of 2024 with their 2024-2025 FAFSA when it becomes available in December, but there are a few things that students and parents can do now to ensure they are ready. 

  • The Mississippi Aid Application (MAAPP) is open and ready to be completed. All Mississippi high school seniors can complete this single application to apply for the four state grants: MTAG, MESG, HELP, and FAITH.  
  • The Federal Student Aid username and password (FSA ID) is critical to the new simplified FAFSA. Students and parents should create their unique usernames and passwords now to allow enough time for the identity verification process to be completed by the time the FAFSA opens this month. This process takes at least three days to confirm information before the FSA ID can be used to log into the FAFSA. 
  • With the change of the FAFSA form, understanding who contributors are and which people will need access to be a contributor to a student’s FAFSA has changed. Federal Student Aid has several resources available that students and families can review to be prepared once the form opens. 

Get2College will be available to assist families in completing the FAFSA in-person or online in our three centers across Mississippi when the FAFSA opens by December 31. Resources on all things college planning and financial aid are available at get2college.org, including Cha-Ching, Get2College’s 24/7 chatbot. 

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About Woodward Hines Education Foundation 

Since its inception, WHEF has worked to increase college access and entry for people in Mississippi and has expanded that work to support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion. The foundation envisions a Mississippi where all people can secure the training and education beyond high school that will allow them to advance their quality of life, strengthen their communities, and contribute to a vibrant and prosperous future for the state. Learn more about WHEF by visiting www.woodwardhines.org. 

About Get2College 

Get2College, the flagship program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, is committed to providing excellent college planning services to Mississippi families to help students get to college and be successful there. The program offers free, comprehensive help to plan, prepare, and pay for education after high school as well as support for students to persist through and complete their education. Get2College also offers direct support to high school counselors and college-planning training to high school counselors, educators, and school leaders. Learn more about Get2College by visiting www.get2college.org.