FAFSA Completion Rates Vary by City

on December 13, 2016

According to a report from the National College Access Network (NCAN), FAFSA completion rates vary a lot from city to city. This demonstrates an opportunity for improvement in FAFSA completion rates, as secondary schools and cities share best practices and FAFSA simplification efforts gain traction.


NCAN compared 2015 FAFSA completion rates at 68 cities. Memphis, TN, had the highest FAFSA completion rate, at 68 percent. North Las Vegas had the lowest FAFSA completion rate, at 25 percent.  The overall average completion rate was 48 percent. Completion rates did not correlate with secondary school enrollment or poverty rates.


Cities with completion rates of 60 percent or more included Memphis, TN, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Chicago, IL, Fresno, CA, and Los Angeles, CA. Cities with completion rates of 33 percent or less included Anchorage, AK, Phoenix, AZ, Indianapolis, IN, and North Las Vegas, NV. 


Nebraska’s FAFSA completion rate in the first month of the 2017-18 FAFSA application cycle is triple the corresponding period in the 2016-17 FAFSA application cycle. So, Nebraska continues to lead the nation in improving its FAFSA completion rate.


The NCAN report is based on FAFSA completion data by high school and school district from the U.S. Department of Education. This database is limited to high schools where at least five students have filed the FAFSA.

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