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The FAFSA Unlocks Millions of Dollars in Grants and Loans for Students and Families

February 11th, 2019

The federal government is the single largest source of financial aid for college. Access to federal financial aid helps to increase college access, affordability, and, ultimately, attainment in Arizona. After all, most students cannot afford to pay the full “sticker price” for a college education.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) enables students and families to apply for all types of federal student aid, such as grants, work-study, and loans. Additionally, many states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for state and institutional aid. In this way, the FAFSA is the key that unlocks the door to financial aid.

In 2017, more than $2.16 billion in federal aid came to Arizona thanks to the FAFSA, making FAFSA completion, and the federal financial aid it unlocks, an important factor in our state economy. This is why it is vital to increase FAFSA completion rates in Arizona and why College Success Arizona works to educate students, families, and policymakers about the importance of the FAFSA.


It is also why the Arizona FAFSA Challenge—supported by Gov. Ducey and numerous partner organizations—matters so much. The goal of the challenge is to increase FAFSA completion to 50 percent in 2019, up from 43 percent in 2018. If Arizona meets this goal, $250 million more in federal financial aid could come to the state over the course of the academic careers of students who receive aid.

Read and download our latest issue brief on the FAFSA and the economic impact of federal financial aid in Arizona.

The Importance of Federal Financial Aid in Arizona

Federal financial aid can have a significant positive impact on students’ and families’ finances. Think of it this way: the average federal financial aid award in Arizona, $9,831, represents a 16 percent financial increase for a family making $60,000 per year.

Federal aid is especially important for low income students and families. Arizona does not have a comprehensive state-sponsored need-based grant aid program. In the absence of such a program, students primarily depend on the federal government, or higher education institutions themselves, to provide the need-based grants they need to afford in college.

In Arizona, 36 percent of undergraduates receive a need-based grant from the federal government through the Pell Grant program, which is a source of free money for undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need.

Moreover, 27 percent of undergraduates in Arizona receive a federal student loan. Across all public institutions in the state, federal Pell Grants and loans account for 62 percent of the financial aid distributed.

Resources for Students and Parents:

Learn more about the FAFSA: FAFSA.gov

Learn more about how to complete the FAFSA: https://formyourfuture.org/the-guide/

Learn more about federal financial aid: bit.ly/2t7AFsY

Learn more about the Pell Grant program: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/pell

Learn more about the Arizona FAFSA Challenge: https://fafsachallenge.az.gov

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