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Case Study

Access to Student-Level FAFSA Completion Data in Iowa

As of 2019, all public high schools in Iowa receive student-level FAFSA completion data. An ambitious effort to overhaul the process of student-level data sharing was accomplished by Iowa College Aid in coordination with the Area Education Agencies’ Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership (AEA PREP). All schools now receive weekly FAFSA reports from their regional AEA PREP, which has data sharing agreements with local schools. These reports are also stored in a central location where the school’s local access manager, usually a school counselor, can access past reports. Reports include information such as whether each student has completed the FAFSA, is missing signatures, or has been selected for verification. 

In the past, high schools relied on students’ self-reports to estimate their FAFSA completion rates in a timely way. Thanks to the Student Aid Internet Gateway (SAIG), hosted by the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), states now have access to student-level data. However, although states can now access FAFSA data, some still face challenges getting the data from FSA into the hands of districts, schools, and community-based organizations, underscoring the importance of learning from states like Iowa. According to the National College Attainment Network, other states with exemplary FAFSA data-sharing procedures include California, Arizona, and Rhode Island.

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This website was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.