Federal Student Aid Applications Down Almost 4% Since Last Cycle

It was sharpest at Title I schools…

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(Liberty Headlines) The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden closure of school buildings this spring.

In the first weeks of the pandemic, the number of new applications fell by nearly half compared to last year’s levels, fueled by a precipitous decline among students at low-income schools, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.

The numbers have risen as states and schools have launched campaigns urging students to apply for aid, but they remain down overall from last year.

It’s raising alarms among education officials who say thousands of students may be opting to delay or forgo college.


The FAFSA, short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is required for students to be eligible for federal Pell grants and student loans. It’s also often a requirement for state aid.

In the four weeks starting March 13, the number of completed applications was down 45% compared to the same period the year before, according to the AP analysis.

It was sharpest at Title I schools, a federal designation for public schools that have larger shares of low-income students, which saw a 52% decrease, compared to a 39% slide at other public schools.

Overall, applications were down by 70,000 as of June 19, representing a 3.7% drop for the entire application cycle.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.