Granite Edvance receives federal award to support FAFSA outreach

June 6, 2024

Funds will enable nonprofit to enhance existing support to students and families

Concord, NH — The New Hampshire nonprofit Granite Edvance has received federal funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s “FAFSA Student Support Strategy” to continue increasing the number of NH students who complete a 2024-25 FAFSA and enroll in college.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critically important component of the financial aid process for colleges and even some trade schools, providing access to federal grants and other need-based aid. Many scholarships also use the form. Overhauled and shortened by the federal government in the past year and re-launched December 31, 2023, the new FAFSA contains several key changes designed to increase form completion and college access. Multiple delays and errors, however, have created challenges for current and prospective college students and their families. According to the National College Attainment Network, just 42.5% of the high school class of 2024 has completed a FAFSA nationwide, a 14.4% drop compared to last academic year. In New Hampshire, FAFSA completions by high school seniors are down 11.7%, with just 6,824 forms filed.

Granite Edvance, whose mission is to help NH students navigate their education and career pathways, had already escalated its 2024 FAFSA support in response to challenges with the form, offering regional FAFSA-filing events, one-on-one FAFSA-filing appointments, extended appointment hours, webinars, and timely updates. The award, offered through the U.S. Department of Education and administered by Educational Credit Management Corporation, will enable Granite Edvance to significantly increase that support.

“The decrease in FAFSA completion this year due to delays and complications is not just a statistic,” said Granite Edvance President and CEO Christiana Thornton. “The numbers represent young people who may be walking away from opportunities because of frustrations and even misconceptions about this form. We are committed to helping students of all ages navigate their future pathways, and we see this work as critical to that mission and to the future of our state.”

The additional federal funding will enable Granite Edvance to promote the importance of the FAFSA, informing students and families that it’s not too late to file; hire temporary staff members to directly support students and families throughout the state in FAFSA-filing; facilitate additional filing events across New Hampshire; and advertise those events as well as Granite Edvance’s free services, including 1:1 filing support. The initiative will target not just graduating seniors but students who may have filed FAFSAs in prior years and have not done so this year due to confusion or frustration over the new form.

The changes to the FAFSA are ultimately expected to benefit students and their families. The new form is shorter and easier to complete, pulls data directly from federal tax returns, and has an updated aid calculation formula that’s estimated to significantly increase the number of students eligible for aid. Last November, the U.S. Department of Education released data estimating that the number of NH students eligible for a Federal Pell Grant would increase by more than 12,000 this year.

“Though we’re optimistic that the new FAFSA will help make college and other postsecondary options more accessible in the future, we can’t let the Class of 2024 pay the price,” Thornton said. “We’re excited to partner with colleges around the state to spread the message that it’s not too late to file a FAFSA and provide as much support as we can for students and their families.”

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